As the years go by, many therapeutic activities have grown to explore more ways to ease chronic pain. Be it from pet or pilates, therapies today have taken many alternative forms to help you become healthier in mind, body and soul. People say alternative therapies can be a helpful replacement or addition to their pain management routines.
Doctors sometimes refer to alternative medicine as “complementary” or “integrative medicine,” to indicate that it is part of a holistic, well-rounded approach to improving one’s health that can still include conventional therapy.
If you want to give it a go, but aren’t sure which treatment is right for you, we’re here to help. We have handpicked a range of alternative therapies along with their benefits for you to choose which one may be a good fit for your wellbeing.
1. Bonding with a Pet
Having a loving animal in your home can improve your mood, relieve stress and activate your levels of oxycontin, also known as the love hormone.
The therapeutic benefits of pets are well known to animal lovers.
In 2016, a survey by The Human Animal Born Research Institute and the Cohen Research Group found 74% of pet owners reported better mental health thanks to their fluffy friends, and 84% reported that their pets reduced their anxiety.
Pets, of course, are also a major responsibility that comes with their own emotional and physical needs. If you don’t have the right circumstances to take on a pet of your own, you can still be around them by volunteering at an animal shelter or walking in the local park to meet some four-legged friends or signing up to host a pet for short periods of time (like borrowmydoggy.com).
Benefits of pets:
- Reduce stress, anxiety, depression
- Improve mood
- Improve empathy
- Ease loneliness
2. Equine Therapy
Visiting a stable to ride horses isn’t just a fun activity. A growing number of horse riding centres offer therapy sessions to the public, citing evidence that riding or interacting with horses can help people confront difficult emotional and mental health challenges.
Horse therapy or equine-assisted therapy typically gives people time to ride, feed and groom a horse. The UK charity Key4Life uses equine therapy to help rehabilitate young offenders and even brings horses into prisons for inmates to interact with.
Dr Robin Zasio, an anxiety expert, has described horses as uniquely effective at relieving anxiety. Gaining the trust of a horse can increase your own confidence and trust in yourself.
Experts say horses are attuned to human emotions. “Horses pick up on everything you’re feeling whether you are anxious, uncertain or aggressive, they can turn away from you or ignore you,” said Key4Life founder Eva Hamilton MBE.
Benefits of equine-assisted therapy:
- Increase your confidence, adaptability, empathy
- Improve your mental health from stress and depression
- Treat anxiety-related conditions
- Boost oxytocin level to reduce pain
- Build your problem-solving skills and social skills
- Improve trust in self
- Impulse control
- Build emotional awareness
If you’re seeking a quiet respite from the world, meditation therapy could be the perfect answer.
Meditation therapy is defined as a method of relaxation and consciousness. It can help you concentrate on one type of stimuli, like a sound or a mental image, “while eliminating outside stimuli from one’s awareness.”
One of the most popular meditation therapies is mindfulness meditation, which may reduce depression, anxiety, stress and even help you cope with chronic pain. Research has also linked meditation to improved memory, reduced, less bias against others and an overall decrease in negative emotions.
Benefits of meditation:
- Reduce depression and stress
- Improve cognitive function
- Decrease negative emotions
- Reduce craving for addictive substances
4. Yoga & Pilates
Both yoga and pilates aim to put less stress on your body in a very inclusive way that is not limited by any fitness background.
The difference lies in their technique foundation and focuses.
Yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates meditation and breathing techniques to decrease tension in the mind and body. It is no secret that yoga has become enormously popular for those in suffering with Chronic Pain as yoga is less punishing on your joints than other forms of exercise. Doctors have linked yoga to better outcomes for patients with osteoarthritis as well as it being beneficial to the heart, balance, back and mental health.
Additionally, almost every professional sports team in the world uses it in some form to help athletes cope with and prevent injury.
Like Yoga, pilates is also a form of low impact and low-intensity exercise but it focuses on building strength and stability while applying mindfulness.
Invented by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, the exercise has been developed and gained popularity since the last few years. HFE opinion poll shows that 70 percent of UK’s fitness enthusiasts prefer pilates to yoga.
Based on the survey, it appears that pilates benefits more to people struggling with injuries like back pain, neck problems, tight shoulders and hips.
Benefits of yoga:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve heart health
- Reduce chronic pain
- Improve flexibility and balance
- Heal muscle-related injuries
5. Music therapy
For some, music can be another solution to ease stress. The pleasure of listening to your favourite tracks often helps to reorient your mind and heal you from chronic pain.
British Association for Music Therapy explains that music therapy can work in various settings including hospitals, therapy centres, schools and care homes.
Even during meditation or yoga, music therapy can be incorporated to create the perfect mood and atmosphere, boosting the right energy to the mind and body.
Together with a music therapist, you can tailor the right session based on your music preferences without having the needed skill nor experience with music. You can listen to your music, perform and compose songs or play an instrument to reach specific goals with the help of music.
Music therapy is perfect for anyone of any age in any condition as it lifts endorphin levels to emulate analgesic effects in the long term.
So, besides helping express your feelings and connect better with yourself, music therapy can be applied to improve a wide range of mental and physical health issues.
The NHS has even embraced this during Covid-19 with some hospitals moving their music therapy sessions online. There are loads of options you can browse online and you can try booking appointments with therapists for virtual sessions.
Music therapy can be beneficial for
- Coping with chronic pain
- Support during cancer treatment
- Support pre and post-surgery
- Pain management
- Treating neurological disorder
- Treating mental illness
We hope these alternative therapies can be useful to improve your health. If you want to discuss alternative therapies or you have already tried them, feel free to share your experience on our Facebook page Together for Better Days. It’s a great place for holistic health tips, advice, support and read the success stories of others who have tried alternative therapies too.
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