We are more tuned in to technology than ever before. Sometimes it feels like we've lost touch with ourselves as a result. But a new trend of meditative, yoga, and therapy apps have brought self-healing practices (Also sometimes written without the hyphen as "self healing practices.") into the popular consciousness. Some of these practices are known as "self-care." While some are critical of certain aspects of this trend, it's ushered in a generation of people who are able and willing to listen to their body and its needs.
While it might seem contradictory to use a phone or tablet to become more in touch with our bodies and minds, these apps have given the average person the tools they need to discover the power of self-healing. But even as these practices become more popular, many are unaware of what self-healing truly is and what it's capable of achieving.
What Is Self Healing?
Self-healing is actively working to heal yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This encompasses everything you do to give your body the resources it needs: eating well, meditation, affirmations, and much more. These things allow our body to heal itself and put our mind at ease.
When our body aches or isn't functioning properly, we often turn to medication. While there is a time and place for these substances, sometimes they're only covering the symptoms rather than fixing the problem. Self-healing focuses on finding the root of our issues, whether physical or mental and taking steps to slowly remove this source of discomfort.
Types of self-healing
Physical self-healing starts with meeting our body's purely physical needs, such as vitamins and minerals, daily movement, and proper sleep. But after you meet these, there is even more we can do. For instance, an IBS patient can learn to control their gut's connection to their emotions through hypnotherapy. And a cancer patient can manage their mental stress to reduce inflammation. By learning to connect our minds and bodies, and to truly listen to what is happening inside ourselves, we can take control over how our bodies experience stress and therefore respond to it.
When it comes to our physical health, the brain as an organ we tend to overlook. But our brain, separate from our emotions, is perhaps the most important organ in the human body. Cognitive abilities like memory, focus, and learning need maintenance to stay strong and healthy. Taking the time to practice mental self-healing through puzzles, self-reflection, and even interpersonal conversation can help keep your mental faculties sharp. After all, in many ways, our perceived "self" lives in our brain. When our cognitive abilities begin to fade, we feel like we are losing ourselves.
Emotional self-healing is perhaps the hardest to tackle. While many of us would rather ignore emotional trauma, whether recent or far in the past, facing these pains head-on is the only way to heal from them. But that doesn't mean we should constantly dwell on our past mistakes or victimization. It's also important to understand the role biochemistry plays in our emotions. We can engage in self-healing by purposely triggering the release of neurotransmitters like glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin. Exercise, meditation, and listening to music are all self-healing techniques that release these chemicals.
Does Science Support Self Healing?
The mind is powerful. It can overpower the body and its response to harmful stimuli. For instance, one recent study showed that distracting patients with virtual reality reduced their pain during a medical procedure. Not only did the test subjects report less pain, but according to their brain scans, they experienced less pain. Mindful meditation can also help reduce chronic pain in some patients.
Reducing stress is one of the best things we can do for our mental state, physical health, and longevity. Stress is a major component in the release of cortisol in our bodies, which has very real repercussions. High cortisol can cause fatigue, mood swings, and even interfere with the way our bodies heal. Proper stress management can reduce new brain lesions in multiple sclerosis patients. Stress reduction has also shown promise for treating women struggling with infertility. Evidence also suggests that those suffering from autoimmune diseases can improve their condition with stress reduction.
Regarding mental and emotional health, self-healing practices have long been used by psychologists with their patients. Mindfulness practice can improve memory, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve personal relationships. While not all of these practices have evidence-based research supporting them, many do.
When to Self Heal and When to Seek Help
As you can see, there's plenty of evidence showing the real impact mindfulness -- and the mind-body connection -- can have on our health. But this doesn't mean self-healing is a replacement for professional medical diagnosis and treatment. In almost all cases, you should refer to a health practitioner first. They will diagnose your ailment and suggest a course of treatment. You can then supplement this treatment with self-healing.
Many doctors actively prescribe self-healing practices to their patients. If you're interested in pursuing self-healing for your health, we suggest finding a licensed doctor who is familiar with and comfortable with using mindfulness and the mind-body connection in their treatments. That doesn't mean that they won't prescribe medication as well, but that they will use it in conjunction with self-healing practices.
Our Quick Guide to Self Healing
The ways to practice self-healing are practically endless, and very dependent on the individual and their personal needs. But our short list of suggested practices will help you get started on the road to developing a strong mind-body connection. You can use these techniques together or alone. If any of these techniques feel uncomfortable, don't hesitate to stop or try something else. In short, the only correct way to practice self-healing is the way that feels right to you.
The following suggestions are not medical advice. If you are suffering from a physical or mental condition, please consult with your doctor before beginning a self-healing treatment regimen.
Whether alone or with someone else, taking the time to sit in silence can be healing all on its own. Making time for silence means bringing our lives to a brief halt. In silence, there is no time for chores or work. Silence doesn't always mean literal silence. It can mean walking through a park or sitting in a busy restaurant. But your attention should be drawn inward, to both your mind and body.
The goal of silence is to quiet your outside world so that you can hear your inner self. This can include your train of consciousness and feelings in your body you weren't aware of before. Hearing and acknowledging these things are the first steps to addressing them. You might discover things about your self in these short moments of silence that you would otherwise never know.
You can take this practice anywhere, but some environments are better for beginners. A quiet room is the best place to start. You can even use audio to tell you when to begin and when to end your meditation. After you've mastered this self-healing practice here, you can take it elsewhere. Eventually, you will be able to take silent meditation almost anywhere.
The self-healing benefits of taking a salt bath are twofold. On the one hand, salt baths can improve circulation, relax muscles, and supplement the body with trace minerals. And on the other, the ritual of taking a bath can relieve mental stress and wipe away negative emotions.
When we think of stress, we typically think of mental stress. Deadlines and disagreements can weigh on our minds during all hours of the day. But another key factor is physical stress. This stress can come from positive sources, like exercise, or negative sources, like injury or poor nutrition. Most of this physical stress is in the muscles. That can interfere with posture and cause tension headaches. Salt baths are excellent at relaxing both your mind and body all at once.
Salt baths, especially those with Epsom salt, also help supplement the human body with magnesium. This mineral is essential to the production of serotonin, and serotonin is essential to our mood and emotional stress levels. By keeping our cortisol levels low, an important side effect of proper stress management, our bodies are more capable of healing physically.
Recognizing and addressing what is happening inside our mind and body is sometimes difficult. One technique you can use to help identify what is causing you physical or emotional discomfort is to practice externalizing. As children, we are pretty good at externalizing without even realizing what we are doing. But as we grow into adulthood, we tend to hide our negative emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings.
There are several ways to externalize your feelings. You can say them aloud to yourself, speak with someone close to you, or write them down. Sometimes this externalization is all it takes to feel some relief. Other times it is only the first step. But you must complete this step, finding what is wrong in the first place, in order to then craft a solution.
Common forms of externalization include therapy, support groups, and journaling. While you might have a personal preference for one of these methods, they all have their benefits. Recently, many people are turning toward therapy apps to help them process their feelings. Even writing out your feelings on a public blog or forum can be beneficial. However, these are not a replacement for the help of a professional therapist.
Yoga has become quite popular in the Western world. Some use it as a form of exercise, while others use it for its meditative qualities. Although some yoga teachers forego much of the traditional teachings in their practice, yoga is rooted in the chakras and self-healing. And for many people, their yoga mat is one of the only places they feel present in their mind and body.
You can practice yoga anywhere — alone or with a group — but many people find attending classes helpful for their practice. The yoga community is open to and understanding of each individual's needs, whether they are emotional or physical. And these classes are a great place to learn new meditation and breathing techniques that will help you in your self-healing practice.
Continuing Your Self Healing Practice
When it comes to self-healing, consistency is important. You should never feel like you're just going through the motions of your practice, but establishing a routine will keep you accountable and can benefit your self-healing in itself. Commit to a weekly yoga class, schedule a monthly appointment with a therapist, or journal and meditate throughout each day.
Resist the temptation to try and do everything at once. Any small bit of self-healing you can accomplish, whether you have one minute or all day, is doing your mind and body good. As you hone your self-healing skills, you can begin to try out new techniques, invest more time in your practice, and tackle emotional and physical issues that previously felt too daunting.
However you choose to approach your self-healing, remember that not all techniques work for every person or every situation. And always remember to consult with a medical professional before using self-healing to address a physical or mental ailment. While the powers of self-healing are impressive, and there is plenty of research and data to support it, your health and safety must come first.
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