Is stress, anxiety or depression is taking a toll on your mental health? If so, medical research has shown that it's quite possibly harming your physical well-being as well. A survey of more than 7,000 adults with arthritis found that those who reported symptoms of depression or anxiety had more physical complaints than those who did not experience psychological distress. So next time you're feeling down, try some of these mind-body boosters for an instant lift:

1. Stretch

Exercise, even light exercise, is at the top of the list of strategies that can help improve both your mental and physical health. Simple stretches can reduce tension, increase flexibility, and improve blood flow.

2. Take a Deep Breath

Close your eyes, breathe in deeply through your nose, and release your breath slowly, so that it takes five to ten seconds. Repeat ten times. It doesn't matter if you are standing, sitting, or lying down.

3. Clean Up Your Act

Make your bed, wash the dishes, straighten out the living room, or perform any quick, light chores that will help revitalize your immediate environment. If you need help, ask a family member or friend, or hire someone you trust to lend a hand.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Focusing on what is happening in the moment can significantly improve the quality of your day, says Los Angeles psychotherapist Allison Cohen, MA, MFT. "When you are consumed with what happened yesterday, what may happen today, or what could happen tomorrow, it zaps your energy and creates an anxiety loop that taxes your physical and mental health," she explains. "Being fully present in each activity or conversation increases your joy and decreases your stress." Even with the phone, TV, and computer on, you can still be mindful, but turning them off and taking a break from electronics may be especially helpful.

5. Manage Your Time

Take five minutes to look over your calendar. Make sure you have scheduled some breathing room into your day-to-day activities so you are not overextended. More importantly, take what you know about your own habits into account: If it takes you awhile to get going in the morning, for instance, schedule appointments for later in the day. Try to give yourself enough time to get where you need to be so you don't add stress to your day by constantly running late.

6. Express Yourself

Talk, laugh, or cry to release any pent-up feelings that are preventing you from relaxing and enjoying your day. Call a friend, neighbor, or family member for a chat or to arrange a visit.

Allison Cohen, MA, MFT, reviewed this article.



Drexel University. "Leadership Development Resources. Healthy Living: 11 Great Ways to De-stress." Web. 2012. Accessed 16 June 2013. 

Gordon, Dan. "Stretch Yourself." UCLA Magazine. 1 July 2011. Web. Accessed 16 June 2013. 

Harvard Medical School Health Publications. "Emotional Well Being & Mental Health." Web. Oct 2012. Accessed 16 June 2013. 

Hill CL, et al. "Psychological Factors and Quality of Life in Arthritis: A Population-Based Study." Clinical Rheumatology 2007; 26(7):1049-54. Web. Accessed Oct. 2012.