Complementary and Alternative Therapy Methods to Improve Mental Health

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Do you know that complementary and alternative therapeutic methods have recently gained popularity all over the world? This is because they help in lowering stress levels, improving general quality of life, and promoting psychological well-being.

While standard treatments such as psychotherapy and medication remain essential for mental health care, including complementary and alternative therapy can bring extra advantages and facilitate holistic recovery.

In this article, we will look at several such methods, ranging from mindfulness meditation to weighted blankets, and talk about how they might help improve your mental health.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is based on Buddhist teachings, and the primary idea is to practise being in the present moment while growing awareness of oneself and the environment. You should also be mindful of your breathing habits, particularly how you inhale and exhale. As a result, the goal is to breathe deeply and slowly and to let go of distracting thoughts by focusing on your breathing. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while also improving emotional regulation and tolerance. You simply need to choose a quiet spot and the most suitable position for yourself (sitting, sleeping, etc.) to practise!

2. Yoga

Yoga is another effective way to boost mental health. The goal is to integrate the mind, body, and breathing patterns by using bodily postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to unite,” and has profound roots in Indian philosophy and spiritual practices. Yoga reduces symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while also promoting a sense of harmony and well-being. Furthermore, it improves flexibility, enhances sleep, and can even be used for recovering from addiction.

3. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of plant-derived essential oils to improve physical and mental health. These oils can have a variety of therapeutic effects when inhaled or used topically, including relaxation, decreasing stress, and enhancing one’s mood and sleep quality. It works best when inhaled because the aroma molecules in essential oils flow directly from the nerves that are responsible for smell into the brain, thus influencing the amygdala which controls the emotions in people. Some of the oils used in aromatherapy include lavender, peppermint, clove, chamomile, jasmine, lemon and rosemary.

4. Music Therapy

Music therapy uses music as a tool to address emotional, cognitive, and behavioural problems in a therapeutic setting. This could be listening to various styles of music or playing a musical instrument that you enjoy. Singing and dancing can also help you release feelings. For example, if you are distressed, you will sing loudly or play loud cheerful music under the guidance of your therapist. Music therapy helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and insomnia, while also increasing emotional regulation and social connection.

5. Art Therapy

Art therapy uses creativity and expressive arts to encourage healing and psychological development. Individuals can explore and share their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a nonverbal manner using a variety of forms of art such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. With its ability to promote self-discovery, resilience, and self-esteem, art therapy has demonstrated success in addressing symptoms of trauma, grief, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.

6. Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy, often known as nature therapy or green therapy, focuses on the natural world’s ability to improve mental health. Spending time outdoors in natural settings, such as parks, forests, or gardens, can help reduce stress, anxiety, and worry while improving your state of mind. Alternatively, activities such as community gardening might help you overcome feelings of isolation, meet new people, and feel closer to others. Another option is animal-assisted therapy, which involves interacting with trained animals such as dogs, cats, horses, or dolphins to boost mental health. You may read more about ecotherapy in an article written for our blog by Zafra Ali Aswar here.

7. Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets with equally distributed weights, usually constructed of glass beads or plastic pellets. The blanket’s gentle pressures help ease tension, anxiety, and improve sleep quality by raising serotonin, melatonin levels and while decreasing cortisol. Weighted blankets have become popular as a non-pharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders, ADHD, and sensory processing difficulties.


Complementary and alternative therapy methods are effective tools for improving mental health and well-being. From mindfulness meditation and yoga to aromatherapy and ecotherapy, these different techniques provide people with a variety of skills for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. However, to efficiently incorporate them into your mental health care practices, you must approach these therapies with an open mind, and ensure collaboration with trained professionals.