Mind–body techniques

Mind–body techniques are based on the belief that what we think and feel can affect our physical and mental wellbeing. 

When our emotions or mental state are under pressure, our physical body can be affected. Similarly, physical symptoms can have a negative impact on our mood and mental wellbeing. Mind–body techniques may also be called psychological techniques, emotional therapies or spiritual healing.

Examples of mind–body techniques include art therapy, counselling, hypnotherapy, laughter yoga, life coaching, mindfulness meditation, music therapy, relaxation, spiritual practices, and support groups. Some techniques, such as support groups and counselling, have now become part of standard cancer care. Spiritual practices are included because of the important part they play in many people’s lives and their value in providing emotional support.

Many complementary therapies focus on the mind–body connection in different ways. Acupuncture, tai chi, qi gong, yoga and massage can help with both emotional and physical problems. However, as these techniques are first directed at the physical body (e.g. moving the limbs into a certain pose), they are outlined in Body-based practices.

A qualified therapist can help you manage any strong emotions that arise during the treatment session. For details on how to find a practitioner to help you explore mind–body techniques, see Professional associations.

What are the benefits?

Scientific studies suggest that mind–body techniques can benefit people who have cancer by reducing the symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatments.

These include pain, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, fear and difficulty sleeping, which can all affect mood and overall wellbeing. 

What are the side effects?

Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the emotions they experience during or after a session. This usually settles soon afterwards. If not, contact your therapist for further support.

Learn more about these mind–body techniques:

This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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