Looking after your mental health is as important as sustaining your body with healthy and nutritious food. The wellness of your body and mind is crucial in achieving your goals, whether big or small. That’s why the self-care revolution has been gaining ground in recent years. People have realized how essential mental health is in keeping their lives better and more balanced.
Over the years, talk therapy and synthetic drugs have been the most widely used treatments for mental health conditions. Although these have been effective for many, the drugs have severe side effects for some. Meanwhile, others believe talk therapy is not suitable for their condition or is not effective in addressing their symptom.
Globally, in 2020, about 3.94% of the population is suffering from anxiety disorders. If not appropriately addressed, this could lead to depression. And in some cases, if this worsens, it could lead to suicide which is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for about 700,000 deaths yearly. People wanted alternative treatment options to help them and not exacerbate their conditions.
There are many alternative options to help with mental health conditions. The key is finding one you would be most comfortable doing. Many holistic treatments stem from ancient traditions connecting the body and the mind to attain harmony and beneficial transformation. If you would be interested to know more, there is this great learning you can read that might help improve your condition. That said, here are other alternative treatment options you can explore:
Many believe that yoga is only for physical wellness. Looking at slender and limber women and men doing the lotus pose and other crazy positions on their mats in a studio can make one think this is very difficult. But with an efficient and well-trained yoga instructor, even an old lady with arthritis can do a head-to-knee forward bend.
Yoga combines physical movement, deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness to keep one healthy and centred. The stretching and strengthening poses give one endurance and strength and help regulate mood and emotions.
Yoga exercises have been found to increase the level of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are the chemical hormones in the body that helps reduce pain, relieve stress, improve mood and give one a sense of positive well-being. They’re most commonly known as the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Surprisingly, endorphins also decrease anxiety which can help if you have GAD or generalized anxiety disorder.
2. Animal-Assisted Therapy
Do you realize that watching a short video clip of a kitten playing with a yarn can instantly boost your mood? The proliferation of cat and dog videos on video streaming sites has helped many people suffering from mental health conditions in recent years. That is just watching, but a close interaction with a pet can do better for somebody with mental health conditions.
AAT or animal-assisted therapy is a formal, structured set of activities that involve handling animals, specifically cats and dogs, in a controlled setting to achieve improvement of symptoms of mental health illness.
For some people, looking at a dog in the eye can help release oxytocin. Oxytocin, also commonly known as the love hormone, is a chemical messenger produced by the body that helps ease anxiety and other symptoms of depression. The same feeling surges the first time a mother holds her child after childbirth.
3. Herbal Remedies
Natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular to help with mental health conditions. Some target pain, others help address the difficulty in sleeping, and some help induce calmness and relaxation. These remedies may not be scientifically backed, so using them should be cautiously approached and it is recommended to seek the advice of your GP or doctor prior to use.
Some of the most popular ones used today are:
• St. John’s Wort – This herbal remedy is known to increase the level of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is the chemical messenger vital in many body functions, including digestion, mood, sleep and wound healing.
• Ginseng – A popular Chinese herbal medicine that may help improve mental clarity, increase energy and motivation and reduce stress.
• Lavender – This flower has been known to help improve sleep and give a sense of calm. That’s why it’s used in many ways, including oils, teas, and supplements Most of these are taken orally in the form of capsules or drinks like tea. But you may also find them in oils or topical creams.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese concept of treatment that uses thin needles to target areas of the body to treat pain and achieve a harmonious balance. The old tradition believes that illnesses result from an imbalance of chi in the body. Chi or qi is the energy that flows along the body’s pathways, and acupuncture connects those points to restore balance in the body and feel wholeness.
The needles manipulate several points in the body at a time to improve chi. The insertion of needles is compared to strumming a guitar string. Once you pluck a string it will create a vibration on the entire length of the string and create beautiful music.
The treatment may help treat anxiety by imbibing a sense of calm, improving digestive function, reducing muscle tension, and alleviating pains. A session of acupuncture can also significantly improve one’s heart rate, which is the leading symptom of GAD and panic disorder.
Psychological distress is often brought about by chronic pain and worry. Reflexology, specifically foot reflexology, can help in addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression, like those mentioned. It works by applying pressure on the different zones of the feet that correspond with the various parts of the body. Doing this can help promote health in the body’s organs, release stress, and alleviate pain.
6. Art Therapy
Artistic mediums can help people express their thoughts and emotions uniquely and healthily. A trained and qualified professional with knowledge of visual arts like photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, and other art forms can help support, maintain and improve a person’s psychosocial, cognitive, physical, and spiritual health.
The resulting artwork will not be criticized or judged but instead appreciated for the emotions evoked and expressed while a person goes through the process of creating it.
Your mental health is essential in keeping many aspects of your life healthy and balanced. If you feel that traditional treatments are ineffective in your condition, you may try other options like animal and art therapy and herbal remedies.
Alternative treatments can often work well alongside traditional treatments such as talk therapy, counselling and psychology. Each one of us and our circumstances are unique, so it is important that you find a combination of therapies that works best for you and consult a health professional or GP for advice and guidance.