Alternative Healing Therapies: The Uses And Benefits

Going through a global pandemic can be stressful. Many studies have showed an increase in stress an anxiety across North Americans. There are many different ways to try and cope with your mental and emotional health. On one end there is the field of science and medicine. In fact I have recently turned to therapy to help cope with both the pandemic as well as a personal traumatic situation at home. But there are also some alternate therapies and ancient healing methods that are also gaining popularity world wide during this time. Some of these techniques include physiotherapy, yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, and Ayurveda. I wanted to share some of the benefits I have found through some of these alternative healing methods.

1. Ayurveda

Ayurvedic treatments are based on ancient Indian practices and use medicines made from herbs and plants to restore balance in the mind and body. It is an all-natural form of treatment that also incorporates massages as a mode of healing. 

Image credit: Pexels

 

2. Physiotherapy and Chiropractics 

Physiotherapy and chiropractics take a more holistic approach to heal physical pain, looking at the body as a whole and focussing on overall well-being and lifestyle of the individual. Both practices work on the principle that the body can heal itself when it is correctly aligned, which in turn helps the nervous system function at its optimum.

It is not difficult to find a chiropractor nowadays, as it has become a popular choice of treatment for ailments such as back pain, whiplash and problems of the spine. 

 

3. Acupuncture 

Acupuncture involves inserting very fine thin needles into the various acupuncture points within the body. This then stimulates the nerves and muscles to release natural pain-relieving chemicals that help one heal without painkillers. 

4. Homeopathy

While homeopathy might not yet be widely recognized  as a field of medicine the world over, there is a growing number of believers who swear by it. Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of diluting natural substances to a great extent, thus making it a holistic treatment with no side-effects.

5. Aromatherapy

This mode of alternate healing makes use of essential oils (oils that are extracted from plants). It is believed that inhaling particular oils (via steam or a diffuser) or infusing them into the body (with an aromatherapy massage or adding a few drops to your bath) helps alleviate pain, stress, insomnia, depression and other mental and physical disorders.

Image credit: Pexels

6. Yoga

This ancient Indian technique of keeping the body and mind in sync has gained immense popularity the world over and is widely practiced in Western nations too. It involves physical aspects such as correct posture, stretching and breathing exercises but also has a spiritual side to it involving meditation and visualization . 

 

7. Hypnotherapy

Some people are still a bit wary of this method of healing, but hypnotherapy – putting the patient in a deep state of relaxation in order to access their subconscious thoughts, beliefs and memories – does have its fair share of followers. 

 

It is believed that our actions/ fears/ ailments are a direct result of our subconscious. Hence by seeking the root of the problem, we can change unwanted behaviours and cure deep-seated traumas such as depression, anxiety, phobias and addictions.

 

How to deal with trauma during a global pandemic

Let me start off by saying this blog is not easy to write. My family and I have been through weeks of crisis, trauma, sadness, heartache, hope, happiness, tears, laughs, the list goes on and on and while most of what has happened in the last few weeks I will keep private (especially since parts of my emotional experience I haven’t even been able to express yet with my partner),  I felt the need to share at least a slither of what has happened, in hopes, and I don’t know who, but somewhere out there, there is someone else who needs this help. Not that I wish for anyone to have to deal with a truly traumatic experience while also trying to navigate a global pandemic, but if there is someone, I want you to know you are not alone.

I also felt the need to put some words on paper as a therapeutic part of my personal healing. Maybe it is selfish of me, since I am not the one with double digit broken bones, but I am the one with the broken heart that is slowly being put back together piece by piece and sharing the experience , these words , it makes the trauma real. It helps me process it and hopefully be whole again myself.

So here is what I am willing to share, as we have shared some of it on social media already. On September 13th, the day before our one year wedding anniversary, my husband was in a very serious mountain bike accident. He spent several days in the ICU, suffered multiple broken bones, and a mid to severe brain trauma injury. Thankfully, every day he gets a little healthier, stronger, and better, and we are so lucky for that.

What I am not willing to share, yet  is the specific emotional turmoil this has caused, maybe one day but not now. That is not the point of this blog, the point of this blog is some words, I won’t say of wisdom since I am by no means (and hope I never am) an expert in dealing with trauma, but words from first hand experience of trying to navigate a traumatic experience while also trying to navigate a global pandemic, COVID 19.

According to reports, 53% of Americans said their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID 19. The pandemic has caused fear and anxiety over health, loved ones, job loss, the list goes on. According to the CDC, it has caused people to loose sleep, worsen chronic health problems, and worsen pre-existing mental health issues. All of that sounds hard enough right? Well now add another layer of anxiety, of fear, of uncertainty when a loved one is in the hospital.

Some obvious impacts were right on the surface level

Forget the personal, emotional and physical impacts for a moment. Let’s first talk about the actual concrete things we had to deal with. Because of COVID 19, my husband had to be tested when he arrived at the hospital. Until his test results came back, I could only be with him for an hour a day, and I could only visit him  through a window. Once his test came back negative, he was allowed one visitor, once a day during a certain time period. That meant once I arrived, I wasn’t allowed to leave his room except to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital or even have lunch at the cafeteria. So usually I would be in the room for 12 hours a day, just stuck there with my thoughts. No one to talk to, no one to cry with, no one to hug when I started to feel sad. All I could do was watch my loved one, helpless, and in return feel hopeless and heartbroken for 12 hours straight. On top of that you have to wear a mask the entire time, and you are constantly hearing about COVID from doctors and nurses talking to each other. It makes the pandemic so much more real and so so much scarier.

Some of the impacts were a little deeper and harder to express 

I count my blessings every day that this is the first truly traumatic experience I have had to go through. In the early days post accident, I could’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was just going through the motions but I wasn’t actually here. My body felt numb, it all seemed like a bad nightmare that had to end but no matter how hard I tried, I could’t wake up. The mornings were the worst, I would wake up with such anxiety that every inch of my body was in pain because I didn’t know what new experiences I would have to go through, or what information I would have to try and take in that day. I had to be strong on the outside for him, our family, our friends, but on the inside I was breaking down mentally, physically, emotionally.

How to cope with it all…or at least try to

I need to start off with thanking every single nurse that watched my husband. I wrote down every single one of their names so I can thank them at a later day. Not only were they taking care of my husband, but they also took care of me. Hugged me when I cried, joked with me when I needed a laugh, came running if I heard a beep that scared me (even though the beeps were totally normal and they were on top of everything). They were amazing not just at their jobs, but at supporting us and I am so thankful.

That is the first point I wanted to make, it is ok to not be strong all the time.

As I mentioned, I was trying to be strong for those around me, I was trying to go through the motions, to make sure all tasks were taken care of. I tried to distract myself from the pain, but the moments I actually felt ok, were the moments after a good cry. The moments that I let myself go. The moments that I let myself feel emotions. You don’t have to be strong all the time, and in fact it is import for you to be able to process your feelings to be able to accept what has happened, and be able to heal.

Not only is it ok to breakdown, but it is ok to lean on friends

When I was sad, down, hyperventilating (which happened a lot) I would message a girlfriend or my mom or dad. I know I am very lucky to have such an amazing support group, and some people aren’t in the same position as me, but not holding it all inside and expressing and sharing your feelings will help you cope and help you avoid a complete and utter breakdown when it all eventually does come out.

It’s also ok to reach out to someone outside of your inner circle… 

I had never tried therapy before, but a few people recommended seeking some professional help since I was really struggling to with my own mental state I decided to give it a try. It was the best thing that I ever did. Having an opportunity to express my feelings, emotions, and experiences to someone who was on the outside and unbiased and could really share and who could also give professional advice on how to handle my emotions. 

It taught me how to cope… 

Every day, sitting in the hospital room my mind would always go to the negative, the worst case scenario. In therapy I learned that cortisol is a chemical in your brain that spurs negative thoughts. But what the therapist taught me is that we still have control over where our thoughts go, and that if we are thinking about negative events that could occur down the road, why not instead turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. As hard as it is (and easier to turn to the negative idea) work a little extra harder to turn those thoughts down a positive path. 

Writing it down really helped me… 

Sometimes there were things I didn’t want to share with friends, family, or even my therapist, so I decided to start a journal. It was the one outlet where I could really express all of my emotions without any judgment or holding back any of my thoughts. Being able to let it all out helped me create a safe outlet. I was able to prioritize my fears and concerns. Writing it down helped me manage my stress levels by clearing my mind. 

Take a moment to breathe…

The hospital is a really hard place to be. Especially in the ICU, where families are going through really difficult times. Now put a global pandemic on top of that, where you aren’t allowed to leave the room except to go to the bathroom, so a friend sent me over some breathing techniques for when I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Take a minute to yourself and try and clear your mind and just focus on your breathing. It will help calm you down in the moment. 

And if you need to, take some real time for yourself…

Everyone kept telling me that it was also important to focus on myself and my wellbeing. In the moment I didn’t understand, I felt I had to be at the hospital all day everyday to be there for my husband. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, or taking any time to myself. It wasn’t helpful. I didn’t have any energy  and I wasn’t able to be strong for my husband, or myself. I felt like I was losing my mind, and so one night instead of staying at the hospital for 12 hours, I left a little early, went home, and slept in my own bed and it was the reset I needed. At first leaving him all along, I felt so guilty, but everyone kept reminding me that I needed to also make sure my own bucket was full. Just taking one evening to myself, with a nice glass of wine, and some distracting laughs from friends helped me regroup and refocus. 

Try and focus on the positives…

As hard as it can be during one of the most difficult times of your life, trying to look for positive moments and events each day can try and keep your mind from going to a bad space. I decided to write down three things that I am thankful for each day. Focusing on positive moments, no matter how small they were, helped me realize that there were things to be thankful for and reminded me that as hard and dark as the days seemed, that even though this was going to be a long road, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. 

These are a few things  that helped me get through one of the most difficult times of my life. Leaning on friends, family, outside sources, and just trying to find moments and positivity  as hard as it may seem in the moment. I am no expert by any means but I have gone through this first hand. Going through a global pandemic is difficult as is, but add a traumatic experience on top of that and it can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. Everyone kept telling me that it is important to take care of myself as well as my husband, because if I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wouldn’t have the strength or energy to take care of him too. Find the outlet that helps you cope with the situation at hand. And just take it day by day, because focusing your mind on anything outside of the present isn’t going to help you be strong in the moment. 

 

 

 

My favourite at home workouts

Ok I will be the first to admit I haven’t done the best job at keeping fit during this pandemic, but it finally hit me just how bad I have been. I tried to put on my “fat” jeans and they are on the rather tight side. And despite BC entering phase 3, and more gyms and workout studios are opening up, you may not be at that comfort level just yet. So I decided to test out a few online workouts and wanted to share some of my favourite that are helping me get back into not just my fat jeans but my skinny jeans too.

 

Breathe at home

I was going to Breathe Studio daily before the COVID 19 shutdowns, and I was very impressed at how quickly they were able to transition online. They started offering the same classes they did in studio through instagram live, facebook videos, and even zoom classes so the teachers could watch and interact with you. I have always loved the high energy of these aerobic, HITT, and yoga classes, and was surprised to find that same energy online. I love sweaty along to the feel good classes at home.

 

Lilly Sabri 

A girlfriend of mine told me about Lilly Sabri, and I was hooked after the first class. I love that she posts daily workout videos including 7 and 14 day challenges that target all of your muscles and help both slim you done and tone your body. Along with her full workouts, she also offers lots of 5 and 10 minute videos that target specific muscles and areas.

Daniela Dib Fitness 

 

I always made sure to book Daniela’s classes when I was going to soulcycle. She is uplifting, encouraging, motivating, but also HARD. There were times I thought I was going to collapse right off of the bike. Because of this I was super excited when she decided to migrate and start her own online business. On her public page she offers a few IGTV fitnesses challenge videos, but the real workouts are on her members only page. Just a small paypall donation gives you access to some incredible pilates and fat burning classes, and trust me, her energy is so contagious you won’t even feel like you are working out (well you will because you will be sweating buckets).

I know this is a difficult time right now, but I have found that keeping up with exercise has kept me as sane as can be through it all. I hope that you will also find some enjoyment through these amazing workouts, or please feel free to share some of the online classes you have really been enjoying!!

Stay healthy my friends,

xo

Mia

The Self Care Domino Effect: Look Good, Feel Good

I know these last few months have been hard for all of us. Dealing with isolation, social distancing, and working from home. There are days where I don’t even get out of my PJs! But here is the thing I have found lately, the lack of effort I have put into my physical appearance and well being has had a much more negative effect than just my hair looking a little on the greasy side.

When you’ve made an effort with your appearance, you’ve more than likely felt the association between looking good and feeling good. You feel confident and ready to take on what the day has to throw at you. Be it an interview to land a promotion or a date with a crush you’ve been swooning over for months; your appearance plays a large part in influencing the way you feel about yourself. When we have something important in our lives, we usually put in the effort to look our best, because it helps us feel our best. 

Another example of how the way we look affects our emotions is that a bad haircut can reduce many to tears (first world problems I know, but oh so true). In fact, I can’t deny I shed a few tears when I dyed my hair a little to dark.  Frustration strikes when a splodge of mascara lands on your foundation. Or your nails you’ve committed to growing for some time begin to chip!

The main point being, whether you like it or not, appearance to a degree matters, from fashion choices to skincare regimes, it influences the way you think and feel about yourself. So let’s delve into more about why that is, and why spending time to beautify and love yourself just a bit more, will boost your health and wellbeing.

Self Love

Primarily, paying attention to the way you look is about self-love. Self-care can include a myriad of positive activities, from morning and night beauty rituals, dedicating time to sleep more, getting in that hour of exercise, and being mindful about what you eat. Above all, Self-love is essential for our wellbeing. When you’re old enough to fend for yourself, the one person in the world that should love, and take care of you the most, is you! The positive effects of self-care manifest throughout your life, affecting the way you feel, look, and act. 

Taking Back Control

Plus, taking care of yourself also gives you back control of your feelings, particularly when you’ve had a bad day. Familiarity, such as applying your favourite night time serum with an aroma of lavender, makes you feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable. Or getting active every day after work is something you can look forward to, to round off a hard day of work, and shake off any stress and negativity. Which also releases those feel-good endorphins and helps you keep your body in shape. Knowing what is going to make you happy, and applying it is you being in control of your well-being. 

Making Progress To Be A Better You

But self-love isn’t just about taking control of a chaotic day; it’s also about making progress. In each area of our lives, we seek to make progress in one way or another. Whether building wealth and working towards financial independence. Going back to college to improve our education and get a better job. To calm addictive behaviours that impair our lives, such as constantly checking social media (guilty) or maybe it is one too many glasses of wine with friends. Our appearance is no different. And so whether you’re committing the next 6 to 12 months to invisalign treatment to enhance your smile, or cutting out some sugar to have a more well balanced diet. Feeling as though you’re taking steps to improve your body, boosts self-esteem, and makes us feel like we’re making progress to be the best versions of ourselves.

Tell-Tale Signs

I know the last few months our appearance hasn’t really been a top priority, but it can say a lot about a person. On top of that looking our best just helps us feel our best. I mean my wedding day I felt my most beautiful, from my hair staying in place to having just the right amount of blush. I know I am guilty of looking back at old photos and wishing I still had the same body from when I was playing professional tennis, or the long locks I had when I was younger, but but maintaining beauty as we age, is a work of art (key word there work). It takes time, dedication, and commitment to make healthy choices for your body and groom regularly. 

For example concerning our largest, external organ;

“The skin is an extremely sensitive organ that, unfortunately, reveals a lot about how we feel both physically and emotionally.” – Isabella Koretz, founder of Ciel Spa in Beverly Hills.

The statement above couldn’t be more accurate. I can notice changes within hours, like if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep I see the bags the next morning, or if I am dehydrated and drained, my skin looks lifeless. 

The way our body looks gives us a strong indication of whether we’re taking care of ourselves. For example, thinning hair could be due to stress. Emerging wrinkles could be due to not using sun protection cream. Red puffy eyes could be due to drinking too much. 

Beauty is more than skin deep. It reflects the effort, time, and love you put into looking after your whole body. If you feed your body nutritious food, drink lots of water, sleep 8 hours a night, exercise, take time to unwind and pamper you will undoubtedly look better, Your skin will glow, fine lines will reduce, and you’ll smile more! Continuous self-care forms a cycle of positivity. From making an effort to look great, your appearance improves, and you’ll feel happier.

 

Slowing down isn’t a bad thing

It is a bit of a crazy time across the world right now. The uncertainty of what tomorrow will look like is causing lots of people anxiety, and many have had to start practicing “social distancing”, something that isn’t ingrained in human nature.

Technology has saved us so much time that it is hard to picture why we would want to go back in time to a place where we didn’t have it. So as it stands, modern technology allows us to do much more, all of the time, and stay connected too. And while there are certainly plenty of perks to it, there are drawbacks also. 

It’s time to slow down and reconnect with yourself for a while. 

Slowing down is a choice that you have to make, and will likely have some trouble in the early days. We are very used to hearing our phone notifications, working on a computer, and being connected 24/7/365. 

So if you want to try going slower, but remaining fulfilled, then here are some things for you to try. 

Photo by Sofia Ornelas on Unsplash

Disconnect

Of course, that would be the first thing on the list. You might choose to disconnect while you travel to make the most of it, or you might have set hours in the day that you will be available for. Although many people couldn’t picture leaving their phone at home, it can be helpful to leave it at home while you go for a walk. Disconnecting means, you will have to focus on other things. 

Knowing your phone can go off at any time, can mean we are more likely to be interrupted by ourselves checking if we have been interrupted! It is hard to slow down when you have that small brain space dedicated to checking for messages and emails. Once in a while, disconnect. 

Move Slowly

You probably can’t just start walking slowly everywhere, but you can practice moving slowly around your home. Or do exercises like pilates and yoga. The great thing is you are only going to need pilates mats and some stretchy pants to get started too. If you do get the chance to head out into the wood for a walk, try not to rush back. Nature walks and hiking can be very relaxing and can help you feel very centred too. 

Letting the wind just blow through you a little bit, and take in all of the trees and greenery around you. Do it slowly and breathe deeply. 

Do Less

This one actually might be the most complicated thing on the list. It is hard to slow down when you have so much to do all of the time. Work, home, school, cleaning, cooking, and everything else too. If you can make a conscious choice to do less, then do so. If your schedule is really packed out, then find a space to book yourself in for some serious ‘nothing’. 

Or even a little space between meetings and being busy, those 5 minutes of just nothingness is really good for you. 

When you find that things are getting on top of you a little, or that you have just too much on your plate, take a moment to pause, breathe slowly, and assess the situation more slowly. 

I understand that all of the news, and updates we are seeing can be concerning, but instead of looking at this necessary time out as a bad thing, likes embrace it as an opportunity to slow down and take care of ourselves, and if you do need some socializing in your life, pick up the phone and reach out because we are all in this together

xo,

Mia