7 Different Therapies That Benefit Your Physical And Mental Health (And How They Work)
When you hear the word “therapy”, what do you visualize? You probably picture lying back on a couch while a counselor discusses your childhood with you. Talk therapy is only the tip of the iceberg, though, when it comes to improving your mental and physical health.
There are hundreds of treatment modalities for various conditions, so please take heart and don’t give up if your initial efforts don’t work. Once you find the right protocol, you will be amazed at your progress. What are some of the alternative therapies available, and how do they work?
Acupuncture has existed in Asian medicine for centuries, and any modality with that kind of staying power has to work wonders. Today, western medicine verifies many of the therapeutic effects. Research shows that during the procedure, the brain releases endorphins, which make you feel better. Additionally, the process has an anti-inflammatory effect and benefits immune function.
Acupuncture works for both physical and mental disorders. At your first session, expect to spend 15 to 20 minutes discussing your health concerns with your practitioner. Some people attain full recovery within ten treatments, while others require ongoing maintenance to sustain the positive effects.
2) Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy uses gentle touch to manipulate the joints in your skull. If you are a parent, you might remember your baby’s soft spot. That’s because your cranium case consists of several bones fused at synarthrodial joints. This form of treatment applies gentle pressure to these joints, and your therapist may maneuver your neck and spine, too.
Practitioners believe the therapy works by normalizing the environment around your spinal cord and brain. It enhances your body’s natural healing ability, and it may ease dysfunctions, including:
- Sports injuries
- Chronic pain
- Neurological injury
3) Massage Therapy
If you ever overdid it in the gym, you might have found yourself rubbing your sore muscles. Massage therapy alleviates pain through several avenues. It relaxes painful muscles and tendons, eases stress, and stimulates competing nerve fibers to impede aching signals between the body and brain.
If you can’t spring for a traditional treatment, which can cost anywhere from $60 to $100, you can learn techniques at home to use on yourself or your partner. Learning a new skill together can strengthen your relationship, and the therapeutic touch also brings you closer.
4) Transcutaneous and Transcranial Stimulation Therapy
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units work by delivering electrical pulses through adhesive pads that attach to the skin. The best news? You can find these products at online retailers, often for under $100. They are small and convenient to carry, fitting in your pocket to them as needed during the day. They also last, unlike aspirin stashes — making them the ideal gift for the chronic pain patient you love.
Transcranial stimulation therapy does for mental health what TENS units do for chronic pain. They consist of using an electromagnetic coil near your skull to stimulate the nerve cells in the center of your brain associated with depression. It activates the region, alleviating symptoms of the disease.
5) Nutritional Therapy
Maybe you heard the saying, “Food is medicine.” Nutritional therapy builds on that principle to remedy both mental and physical disorders. While it sounds new-age, it has roots in ancient practices from Greece to China.
This practice focuses on consuming a variety of whole foods and using personalized dietary and supplement regimens to remedy everything from inflammatory bowel disease to depression. It can also help you to control your weight, which also reduces your risk of developing chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.
6) Art and Music Therapy
These therapeutic modalities benefit people with mental health disorders. Both practices empower patients to explore their emotions and express them in a safe, appropriate way. The critical aspect of this treatment is to incorporate a therapist to help guide your expression in a healing direction.
However, if you don’t have a counselor, you can still explore your inner world with these practices. The next time you feel a confusing haze of emotions, draw a picture representing the chaos you feel. You will likely find that the process enables you to label your feelings. If you are a pent-up ball of nervous energy, put on a fast-paced song and dance yourself into a frenzy. You’ll burn off some of the anxiety and think more clearly afterward as a result.
7) Wilderness Therapy
In Japan, people engage in a practice called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Wilderness therapy incorporates facets of this as a treatment modality. However, formal programs go beyond communing with nature. They foster self-efficacy and personal accomplishment through meeting goals. In-patient programs also transform the therapeutic relationship because you inhabit close quarters shared by your treatment team.
Some inpatient programs are intense, and those that are overly restrictive often bear scrutiny. Investigate the group you join if you decide to give this option a try. There are substantial mental health benefits to getting outside. If you aren’t in a formal program, you can try going for a hike as an intervention when you feel emotions start to overwhelm your reason.
Benefit your mental and physical health with these alternative therapies
You don’t have to lie on a couch in a psychiatrist’s office to undergo effective therapy. If you need to improve your mental or physical health, explore these eight options.
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