How Mental and Physical Health Can Reduce Stress

Sep 8, 2022


The mind-body connection: Mental and physical health are closely aligned. Here’s how to manage both.

Try this at home: Reduce stress 

Stress doesn’t just affect your mind. According to the American Psychological Association, it can cause chronic pain, respiratory distress, inflammation and digestive issues. Try these mindful techniques to lower your stress and improve your overall health. 

  • Take a nap. An hour of sleep can give you a mental break from stressors and deliver a jolt of midday energy. 
  • Meditate. Simply taking a few minutes to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and quiet your thoughts can help you relax. 
  • Laugh it off. Laughing can relieve your overall stress — and a recent study found that frequent laughter can have significant long-term benefits on body weight and overall well-being. 
  • Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts regularly can help you work through problems and come up with positive solutions. 

Lower your blood pressure without medication 

If you are concerned about high blood pressure — which can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease — consider these at-home solutions to solve it. 

  1. Stay active with isometric exercises, such as planks and certain yoga poses, which can reduce blood pressure. Walking for 30 minutes a day has a positive impact, too.  
  2. Focus on nutrition by cutting back on salt, alcohol and caffeine, which can raise blood pressure. And eat foods rich in potassium, such as bananas and leafy greens, which help the body reduce sodium levels.  
  3. Cut out stressors, which can increase heart rate and constrict blood vessels (see “Try this at home: Reduce stress” for tips). 

Monitor the mind to help the body 

Bill Taetzsch, PhD, is teaching people in Butte County how to use their minds — with the help of biological sensors — to benefit their bodies. Through a scientific process called biofeedback, people can train their brains to improve aspects of their physical health, such as reducing pain, lowering blood pressure and combating the body’s response to anxiety. 

“Daily stressors can numb the brain, which reduces the brain’s ability to respond to external stimulation,” Dr. Taetzsch says. “We can retrain the fight-or-flight mechanism through breathing techniques that support the body’s best response to stressful situations.” 

In a biofeedback session, Dr. Taetzsch connects a person to sensors that monitor breathing patterns and heart rate. Using a program that teaches breathing techniques, muscle relaxation and mindful meditation, they learn to increase voluntary control over their brain’s automatic response to stressors.  

People then utilize these skills in various training environments that help them improve their ability to achieve a state of relaxation. They are instructed to practice these stress management techniques on a daily basis so they can readily apply them in real-time situations when they are sensing an increase in their anxiety, muscle tension or pain level.