women

Reduce Stress : Alternative Therapies (part 1)

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1. Learn about Ayurveda

Ayurveda (pronounced “i-your-vay-da”) is an ancient science of living a long and healthy life, defying disease and aging, and promoting well-being and good health through a variety of practices. Ayurveda may be the oldest known health care system, probably over 5,000 years old!

“In Ayurveda, stress equals imbalance.”

In Ayurveda, stress equals imbalance. When the body isn’t balanced, pain, illness, injury, disease, and psychological and emotional problems result. The theory of Ayurveda is complex, but to simplify, it uses certain foods, herbs, oils, colors, sounds, yoga exercises, cleansing rituals, chants, lifestyle changes, and counseling to put the body and mind into the ultimate state of health. It also has at its heart a very specific philosophy that suggests disease and even the aging process can be halted, even reversed, through certain practices.

2. Try Ayurvedic Therapy

The ayurvedic system divides people (and everything else—weather, tastes, seasons, temperatures, and so on) into three main dosha types. Many people are a combination of two or even a balance of the three doshas, but most people lean toward one dominant dosha. One’s dosha determines what kinds of foods, herbs, oils, colors, sounds, yoga exercises, cleansing rituals, chants, lifestyle changes, and counseling will be most beneficial.

An ayurvedic physician can determine your dosha, sometimes through nothing more than feeling your pulse. Typically, a rigorous and detailed analysis is made of a patient who seeks ayurvedic therapy, including detailed questions covering everything from physical makeup to habits, likes and dislikes, and profession.

3. Know Thyself: Biofeedback

A biofeedback session involves getting hooked up to equipment that measures certain bodily functions such as your skin temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and muscle tension. A trained biofeedback counselor then guides the patient through relaxation techniques while the patient watches the machine monitors. When heart rate or breathing rate decreases, for example, you can see it on the monitor. You learn how your body feels when your heart and breathing rate decrease. Eventually, after a number of sessions, you learn to lower your heart rate, breath rate, muscle tension, temperature, and so on, on your own.

4. Get Creative

Creativity therapy is a general term for using creativity on your own to help relieve your own stress. You can write poetry, play the piano, even mold homemade playdough to help relieve your own stress and express your creativity. When you become immersed in creation, you can achieve a kind of intense, all-consuming focus similar to the intense focus and concentration you can achieve through a meditation practice. Allowing yourself to become one with your creation—your painting, your drawing, your poem, your short story, your journal entry, your sculpture, your music—helps you to let go of the stresses in your life.

5. Give Creativity Therapy a Try

Set aside thirty to sixty minutes each day. Choose your creative outlet. Maybe you will write in your journal, practice the cello, paint with watercolors, or dance to classical music. Then, sit down in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed, and start creating.

Try not to look at your creations or analyze your own performance, at least not carefully, until you’ve practiced creative therapy for one month. When the month is over, look carefully at what you’ve accomplished. Words and images that recur in writing or painting or drawing are your personal themes. Movements or sounds can also have meaning for you, personally, if you are dancing or playing music. Spend some time meditating on what they could mean for you.

6. Follow These Helpful Tips

Here are some tips to remember when engaged in your creativity therapy:

• As you work, don’t stop. Write or draw continuously. If you stop, you’ll be more likely to judge your work.

• Don’t judge your work!

• Promise yourself you won’t read what you wrote or survey what you drew until the session is over. Otherwise, you’re likely to start judging.

• Don’t be critical or disappointed in what you come up with. There is no wrong way to do this, unless you are judging yourself.

• Feeling stuck? Just start writing or drawing without any thought or plan, even if you end up writing “I don’t know what to write” for three pages or drawing a page full of stick figures. Eventually, you’ll get tired of that and something else will come out.

• Commit to the process. Even if it seems like it isn’t working at first, thirty minutes (or just ten to fifteen minutes when you first try it) each and every day will yield results if you stick with it.

• Don’t think you can’t do creative therapy because you “aren’t creative.”

Everyone is creative. Some people just haven’t developed their creativity as much as others.

7. Learn about Dream Journaling

While “the stuff that dreams are made of” is still a matter of some controversy, many people believe that dreams tap the subconscious mind’s hopes, fears, goals, worries, and desires.

Dream journaling is a way to begin keeping track of the images, themes, motifs, and emotions in your dreams. Because it helps you to work on your own mind and train your mind to dream in a way that benefits you, dream journaling is a good stress management tool. Its mental training helps the mind to become more stress resilient.

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