Among mind-body practices, stress relief is a primary goal. This is actually a body of practices unto itself: Stress management is a critical component in the treatment and prevention of conditions like chronic pain and heart disease; and patients with terminal illness can experience an improved quality of life by reducing their stress levels.
Stress has a direct and documented affect on health. The "stress hormone" cortisol is a factor in heart disease, high blood pressure, pain and mental disorders, among other issues.
There are lots of approaches to stress management -- ways to decrease the amount of cortisol coursing through the body. Yoga and meditation help to ease the mind. A stress-management counselor might recommend cognitive practices like visualization (perhaps going to your "happy place"), mantras and journaling to lower stress levels. There are also behavioral approaches, like giving yourself more time before an appointment so you don't have to rush. Sometimes listening to music can help, and using creative outlets like painting and drawing can ease stress, too. Along these lines, many hospitals offer art and music therapy to their patients.
For more information and complementary and alternative therapies, look over the links below.
More Great Links
- CAM Basics. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/
- From Acupressure to Yoga: Twice as Many Hospitals Now Integrate Alternative Therapy. MarketWire. October 2003. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_pwwi/is_200310/ai_mark1205690822
- Latest Survey Shows More Hospitals Offering Complementary and Alternative Medicine Services. Medical News Today. Sept. 17, 2008. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/121662.php
- Prayer and Spirituality in Health: Ancient Practices, Modern Science. NCCAM/NIH. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2005_winter/prayer.htm
- The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camsurvey_fs1.htm
- Whole Medical Systems. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/backgrounds/wholemed.htm
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