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5 Alternative Therapies That Work

5 Alternative Therapies That Work

Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Whether it’s back pain, neck pain or a serious lack of sleep, we all have our own problems! But instead of popping the pills and relying on the painkillers, have you ever considered alternative treatments to aid your ailments? If not, you could be seriously missing out.

Perhaps some of these therapies could be useful to some of you – at least it may get you thinking about investigating alternative routes for wellness:

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1. Meditation

We’ll start with meditation as this is something that everyone can benefit from. It’s a great stress reliever. If you work in a fast paced job and find yourself constantly dashing from here to there, trying to keep on top of your inbox, then it can be hard to ever truly ‘switch off’.

Have you ever considered meditation? Studies have proven that meditation can reduce stress and also aid anxiety. If you haven’t given it a go, then it’s definitely worth practicing! Head to YouTube for some great guided meditation videos that are perfect for beginners. Alternatively, there are various different centres you can visit where you can practice meditation for beginners. If you’re fairly new to this, these can really help get you past that introduction stage. Simply have a quick Google to find your local class or Buddhist centre which often offer intro sessions, specific sessions for stress, and family meditation groups too. There are lots of great options!

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Think of your mind as a puppy dog – it needs training, otherwise, it will run riot! Meditation is a great brain trainer and can help you to organise your thoughts and, most importantly, relax!

2. Aromatherapy

According to Sleep.org, 95% of people use some sort of electronic device at least a few nights a week in bed. That’s pretty crazy! It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with our sleep. If you find yourself suffering from insomnia, then aromatherapy might just help to solve your sleepless nights. The scents actually trigger powerful neurotransmitters that stimulate the correct parts of the brain to relax. Scents such as bergamot, ylang ylang and lavender are particularly effective: mix a few drops of oil with water to create a homemade spray you can spritz onto your pillows. Combine this with meditation, your body should feel calmed and you should find falling to sleep easier than ever!

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3. Acupuncture

According to an ancient theory, we have meridian lines that run all over our body. It is believed that when a person falls ill, these lines become blocked. Acupuncture needles enable the lines to clear and allow for energy to flow freely through the body. Many people find that acupuncture can be particularly helpful for back and neck pain. If you suffer from sciatica, this is where the nerve that runs from the back of the pelvis to the feet is compressed. Acupuncture can help to improve this and control the pain. It can also help with arthritis too, so it’s definitely a route worth investigating!

4. Balneotherapy

Also known as hydrotherapy, balneotherapy is based on the idea that water can aid a range of conditions including swelling, anxiety and arthritis. Healing with water can be extremely beneficial, helping to relieve stiff muscles and stimulate blood flow. It can decrease both swelling and inflammation by increasing your circulation. If you are able to bathe in spring waters, these waters contain beneficial minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. You can also recreate this at home by adding salts to your bath water!

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5. Osteopathy

Osteopathy involves the manipulations and massage of the skeleton and musculature. The stretching of the muscles can work wonders for relieving muscle tension, enhancing blood supply to tissues and helping the overall healing process. Research has shown that osteopathy can improve lower back pain, as well as reducing migraines and headaches.

Have you tried any alternative therapies yet?

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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