There are a variety of drug free, holistic treatments for pain and anxiety today that can compliment medical or therapeutic practices and help reduce both physical pain and emotional distress. In this article, 7 Holistic Treatments – Pain and Anxiety, we will be taking a brief look at a few of these drug-free methods and the benefits each of them offers for managing pain and anxiety.
Mindfulness is a practice that has its roots in Eastern tradition. It is the practice of conscious awareness of the person’s inner states, feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and even external events. Mindfulness involves observing one’s experience without necessarily trying to change it or labeling it as good or bad. It can be applied in an effort to be more present and engaged with what’s going on around you or with what is happening within you. It means being present in the present. When practicing mindfulness, we pay attention to a single thing at a time and observe it with focused intention and without judgment.
When applying mindfulness for pain, we pay attention to that pain, which might seem paradoxical. However, when we pay attention to the pain, we reduce the stream of negative thoughts that can increase the experience of pain and e can reduce both the pain and the emotional effects it has. Mindfulness can reduce pain dramatically, with better effects the longer it is practiced. It can reduce the experience of pain too, helping us reduce the unpleasantness of it significantly.
Mindfulness can also help improve the quality of life for people who experience chronic pain and also boost mood which can also have a positive effect on pain levels. Remember the old saying “misery loves company”? – well, if your mood is negative, anxious or depressed that actually increases your sensitivity to things you find discomforting. Essentially, you are primed to find more discomfort.
As for anxiety, mindfulness also involves paying attention to the anxiety and observing it without judgment. You actually focus on the feelings and symptoms of anxiety rather than attempt to suppress them or change them. This allows you to calm down and become more aware that the anxiety is a response of their body. The practice of mindfulness can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and is useful for anxiety disorders also.
Acupuncture is a treatment with a long history, being practiced in China for many hundreds of years. It remains a somewhat controversial treatment today, but there has been growing scientific evidence in recent years to support its effectiveness for a variety of conditions. (*some insurance companies now cover accupuncture for cardiac patients) Acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into specific points of a person’s body at varying depths. It has been suggested that acupuncture stimulates certain nerves in the body.
Acupuncture can be used to help with pain, especially for migraines and back pain. People with chronic pain can benefit significantly from it as a drug free option to increase quality of life. Reportedly, it can relieve pain significantly in about 50% of the cases. It’s worth mentioning that with a good acupuncturist the procedure is not painful and can be almost painless or fully painless, so there is no significant pain associated with the needles. The practice also has much fewer side effects than medication.
Acupuncture has also been found to be useful for anxiety. It can help reduce anxiety in general and also to improve symptoms of certain anxiety disorders. The results usually begin to appear after a single treatment and become more significant after continued sessions.
Acupuncture is a focused treatment, addressing a specific problem through the application of needles to certain points (also called meridians) on the body. Usually, the acupuncture is directed at resolving a specific issue. However, if acupuncture is effective for the individual’s pain or anxiety, it might be useful to return to it for other difficulties that can be appropriatly treated through acupuncture.
3. Medical Hypnosis
Medical hypnosis is an advanced form of hypnotherapy used in medical settings to help people manage pain, anxiety, increase their ability to relax, or better approach their treatments. While hypnosis is a controversial treatment that often is incorrectly associated with performance or stage magic, the legitimate use of it by a clinician with advanced training can be highly effective. Hypnosis can help reduce pain or even nausea, being used, for example, with cancer patients who are struggling with some of the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments
Hypnosis involves an altered state of consciousness, as happens with meditation, but the person who is being hypnotized does not lose awareness or memories. They can not be manipulated into doing something specific (nobody can make you cluck like a chicken), rather, they enter a state in which they are more relaxed and more open to positive suggestions. The person’s focus is directed at a single thing, so their distress becomes less and their pain and anxiety is reduced.
Hypnosis can have pain relieving effects, ranging from moderate to strong. Hypnosis can be useful for a multitude of conditions associated with pain. Some people might respond better to hypnosis than others, but approaching it with an open mind can help make it more effective from the start.
Anxiety also can improve through the use of hypnotherapy. It can be helpful, as it is easier for the person to be more open and relax physically in the moment. Some results of hypnotherapy for pain and anxiety might be seen after the first session, however, there is usually a treatment plan for several sessions that occur progressively further and further apart. It’s important to seek this type of service only from a licensed therapist with advanced training in medical hypnosis.
4. Medical Meditation
Medical Meditation is another practice that is quickly gaining recognition in the medical community. Medical Meditation has a wide array of benefits and few to none side effects. Medical Meditation involves the practice of focused attention (for example, attention focused on breathing, repeating a mantra, or on something else). Medical Meditation is a well-established practice that helps reduce pain, relax, improve one’s physical and mental health, and obtain a wide variety of benefits, such as a greater control over one’s thoughts and inner states, which is clearly very helpful for anxiety.
Medical Meditation can be used as a form of pain relief, but unless you have a great deal of previous training, you are likley going to need to begin with a professional. A clinical professional with advanced training in this area can help you gain more control over your reaction to experiences and increase your ability to self-drive relaxation; reducing stress and pain too.
For anxiety, Medical Meditation can improve the control an individual has over their thoughts, helping cut negative ideas that might make the anxiety build up. The person also can learn to relax and breathe when they choose to, helping address the physical symptoms of anxiety as well. The practice of meditation, once learned, can be practiced without the need for any special location or materials. What is also significant is that it has a variety of health benefits which increase the more a person practices meditation.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is a treatment approach that is primarily known and used for trauma. Like many holistic methods it is controversial, but is also simple and can be very effective. The basis of EMDR is that certain eye movements help the brain reprocess traumatic or difficult events. When used for traumatic events, the therapist may make specific motions with their fingers, asking the patient to follow them with their eyes while they talk about the traumatic event. Eye movements reduce the emotional charge of memories as they help the brain reprocess it.
However, EMDR is not just for trauma. It has been used effectively one of the more popular treatments for pain, too. For instance, people with chronic pain through the application of an EMDR protocol can also experience a significant reduction in the pain, better mood, and more control over their own pain levels.
EMDR can help with anxiety as well. It seems that it is best applied when it is used with traumatic anxiety, as the person might be asked to recall and talk about situations that have caused them anxiety in the past. There is less research on EMDR for other anxiety disorders, however, it does seem to be effective to address trauma and reduce anxiety. (EMDR is an approach that requires specialized training to be practiced, so it’s important to only seek treatment from trained, clinical professionals.)
Yoga refers to a variety of practices that also originate in Eastern spiritual tradition. There are many different variations of yoga that might have different purposes. Yoga involves a series of poses, breathwork and physical exercises that are meant to help a person relax, get more in touch with their body, and as a form of exercise.
There are different types of yoga. Some provide a more intense workout, while others focus on different goals. There are yoga poses and approaches that are directed at providing pain relief. Yoga is especially useful for some forms of back pain. However, it is important to be careful when doing yoga, as some poses might not be good for pain or might aggravate it due to the physical demands they might have. In general, yoga as a form of exercise might be less demanding, especially some forms of it, and provide the benefits of pain relief other forms of exercise have due to the biological effects of exercise. Exercise is a natural painkiller, so practicing yoga can help with pain relief.
Yoga can also help with anxiety. Firstly, yoga is a form of exercise, which means that it has the benefits exercise has in general, associated with pain and distress – like endorphin release. Yoga also promotes a more relaxing way of breathing – bringing your heart rate and breathing into a more relaxed pace. There are also specific poses that address anxiety and help relax. Yoga can help improve a person’s physical condition and help them become more physically active.
7. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
EFT is a relatively new holistic treatment that is gaining more popularity. Research is limited, but the field is relatively young and the public response has been positive. EFT is based on acupuncture, but rather than using needles, it uses pressure. EFT is a form of physiological acupressure that uses tapping instead of needles. The practitioner taps specific points on a person’s body while the person thinks about a specific problem and voices affirmations. EFT has been used by medical practitioners, although it is still not fully recognized.
EFT can be used for both anxiety and pain. EFT has also been used to teach patient’s with Parkinson’s to self-regulate their anxiety, which can have positive effects on their mobility. And more recently for equestrians with fears following an injury. with It can be adapted to these problems by tapping specific points on the body, voicing specific affirmations, and focusing the patient’s attention on the pain or anxiety. It can help relax and reduce stress, which benefits both pain and anxiety.
Overall, these holistic treatments for pain and anxiety offer similar benefits – they all offer drug free relief from pain and from anxiety although through different methods. Some of them, like mindfulness and meditation, offer a wide variety of benefits in addition to reducing pain or anxiety, while others focus more on the problem at hand. Different people might benefit more from one type of treatment rather than the other, so the choice of treatments for pain might depend a lot on individual differences. Some of these treatments are also more established, meaning that it might be easier to find a licensed practitioner or a course teaching how to practice something, like yoga or mindfulness, in one’s home. Holistic treatments also might not always work as the primary treatment. For instance, for chronic pain it would be important to establish the cause with a doctor before seeking a holistic way to relieve pain. However, these holistic treatments can be very effective when done in addition to primary treatment or on their own in some cases. It’s always wise to talk with your physician before adding a new modality to your treatment plan for pain.
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7 Holistic Treatments for Pain and Anxiety / Houston / Live Better Live Now