Improving the quality of life with educational and recreational opportunities for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

By: Ashley Callaway

Healthy living is a comprehensive approach to well-being that embodies various aspects of mental, emotional, and physical health. It can involve a range of practices beyond diet and exercise. Allowing yourself to explore alternative therapies can assist with pain management, stress, and overall body balance. Here are a few alternative methods for you to try. 

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, observing thoughts and sensations as they arise and pass away. This practice can help reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and improve emotional regulation. Mindfulness can be practiced by focused breathing, staying present, and ensuring a quiet space. All of those concepts are consistent with mediation practice. There are various types of mediation, and each are practiced with different focuses and techniques. Some common forms include mindfulness meditation, focused attention meditation (such as concentration on the breath), loving-kindness meditation (cultivating feelings of compassion and empathy), and transcendental meditation (repeating a mantra).

Other alternative practices to try are yoga and tai chi. Yoga is a holistic practice that combines physical postures, breathwork, meditation, and philosophical principles. There are various different styles of yoga, each with its own intensity and difficulty level. If one style does not interest you, do not be afraid to try another kind. With all styles of yoga, be sure to focus on your breathing. Pay attention to your breath throughout your practice. Coordinate your movements with your breath, inhaling as you expand or lengthen and exhaling as you contract or release tension. Deep, mindful breathing helps calm the mind and deepen your practice.

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that is practiced for health benefits, mediation and self defense. It is characterized by slow movements, deep breathing, promoting relaxation, balance and mindfulness. For beginners, find a qualified instructor or beginner videos online. Be sure to start with basic movements and progress slowly, focus on alignment and posture, coordinate breathing with movement and stay present. Focus your attention on the sensations

of movement, the rhythm of your breath, and the flow of energy within your body. Let go of distractions and worries, allowing your mind to become calm and centered.

Nature therapy, also known as green therapy is a therapeutic approach that involves spending time in a natural environment. It recognizes the connection between humans, nature and leverages the healing power of the natural world. Green therapy can be practiced by gardening, flower arrangement, bird watching, stargazing at night time, strolling through the park, hiking, time at the beach/ listening to the ocean, simply sitting outside and observing nature. Spending time in nature, whether through hiking, gardening, or simply taking a walk in the park, are known to reduce stress levels, improve mood, and enhance quality of life.

These mind-body practices combine physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve flexibility, strength, and relaxation. Remember, it’s important to consult with healthcare professionals or qualified practitioners when incorporating alternative methods into your lifestyle, especially if you have specific health concerns or conditions. By incorporating alternative methods into your daily life, you can promote holistic well-being and enjoy a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

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