For those living with a chronic condition, facing each new day is often times a daunting task. Our days are catered around how we wake up each morning. Planning often becomes a non-existent reality and we are fortunate if we make it from the bed to the bathroom and back. You are bound by medical limitations by no fault of your own and many of the traditional medical therapies available to you often have more side effects than benefits.
Fortunately, there are alternative therapies out there that may help you manage your conditions more productively.
Science seems to be getting on board more and more with the many benefits of having a spiritual practice. Whether you already have one or are looking to possibly start one, do your homework, be open and explore various faiths until you find what works for you. In my case, I am polytheistic so my spiritual practices are based on principles from various religions and belief systems.
Meditation has been shown to increase the brain’s gray matter density, which can reduce sensitivity to pain, enhance your immune system, help you regulate difficult emotions, and relieve stress. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has been proven helpful for people with depression and anxiety, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
On the other hand, prayer helps to elicit the relaxation response, along with feelings of hope, gratitude, and compassion—all of which have a positive effect on overall well-being. There are several types of prayer, some of which are rooted in the belief that there is a higher power that has some level of influence over your life. This belief can provide a sense of comfort and support in difficult times.
Journaling is also a wonderful way to help work through the mental strains of having a chronic illness. There are many types of journals and you don’t have to be an English scholar or write long entries to keep one. Simply the act of getting your thoughts and feeling down on paper can be very therapeutic, even if it’s just a few lines a day.
There are several types of massage therapies that one can get – Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Trigger Point massages are examples. The therapist may also bring in the use of hot rocks to work deeper into the tissues. The benefits of this therapy include managing anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines, myofascial pain syndrome, and temporomandibular joint pain. It also works to lower blood pressures, stimulate the body’s natural detoxification through the lymph nodes, and it just plain feels awesome!
Reiki works on different levels of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being. It is not only one of the oldest healing systems in use; it is also one of the most versatile. This ancient Japanese method of healing uses energy to balance the body and mind. In fact, Reiki is believed to improve just about any aspect of life, from physical health to emotional well-being to stress reduction and mental clarity. It accelerates the body’s self-healing abilities, aids in sleep, reduces blood pressure, helps relieve pain, and helps spiritual growth and emotional clearing.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing originating from India. The primary goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to help people live long, healthy and balanced lives without the need for prescription drugs, complicated surgeries or suffering through painful conditions.
Ayurvedic medicine can help treat inflammatory, hormonal, digestive and autoimmune conditions through use a well-balanced healthy diet, lifestyle changes, stress relief and various herbal remedies. Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach to western medical treatment that fails to address the huge diversity among patients, Ayurveda takes into account individuality when prescribing holistic treatments.
These are just a few of many different options that are available to explore on your journey towards managing and even thriving with a chronic illness. And as with all additions to your treatment plan, please consult with your doctor or specialist prior to beginning any new treatments.