There are so many alternative medicine options to choose from! Head over here to read Part 1, which lists many of the complementary and alternative medicine options available today. Feel free to print out that list for the fun activity below.
Which Alternative Medicine Do I Choose?
Many of the therapies we previously discussed might be very familiar to you. It’s even likely that you participate in one or more of these! Alternative medicines are not so very alien to us in this day and age, and are often a normal part of our lifestyles.
Now that you’ve seen the vast array of complementary and alternative medicines available to you, how do you select which therapy- or which several therapies!- are right for you or your family?
This selection will be easier than you think. There are a lot of options available to you, but we will narrow down your options using, basically, a three-step process.
1. What Are Your Top Concerns?
Being practical is going to help you narrow down your top options much more quickly than jumping right into comparing the long list of choices available to you. So, the very first thing you want to do is to make a short list of the things that are most important to you in choosing a CAM therapy. Be honest with yourself; this is personal, and there are absolutely no right or wrong answers.
Do you have a medical condition that limits certain options? Is your budget limited? Where do you live? Perhaps some therapies aren’t available within a reasonable travel distance for you. How much time do you have on your hands to participate in certain therapies? Do you want something you can do at home for yourself, or something that needs a physical intervention by a health care professional?
Just make a list of your top three to five concerns. Then, based on your list, we’ll help you make a list of CAM therapies in which you shouldn’t participate.
What therapies fit into…
2. Eliminating Your Worst Options
Now that you’ve defined what’s most important to you, let’s help you narrow down your best options. We’ll eliminate the options that won’t serve you, or make suggestions based on the most common concerns people face when choosing their best CAM options.
Feel free to print out the list of therapies in Part 1 of this series, and merrily take a big black marker to it to cross off anything that absolutely wouldn’t work for you. Also feel free to skip any of these sections that don’t apply to your concerns.
A. Medical Concerns
You may have a medical condition that prohibits certain activities. If that’s the case, that’s your most important concern, and will naturally narrow down your list of possible CAM therapies. Check with your doctor or health care professional if nutrition therapies, certain forms of exercise, or certain forms of body therapies are inappropriate for you. If you have a condition that limits your mobility, that will also naturally remove certain forms of exercise or body therapies from your list of possible options.
B. Budget Concerns
Let’s talk money. Everyone has a finite (not necessarily limited, but certainly finite) number of dollars to work with, and each household has to decide the best use of those dollars. If your health care budget is limited, look into options that may be partially covered by another entity:
- Many health insurance plans cover osteopathy; chiropractic care; acupuncture; counseling, mental health care, and hypnosis; nutritionists; and/or naturopathy.
- You may have an HSA or FSA (Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account) through your health insurance plan. HSAs and FSAs offer tax-free spending for all of the above, as well as nutritional supplements and natural products; massage; craniosacral therapy; and, sometimes, even gym memberships.
- Your employer may offer a free gym at your workplace, or they may partially or fully cover a gym membership. Check with your HR department for those benefits.
Free options include most forms of exercise. Despite commercials trying to sell you things, moving your body around requires nothing more than desire and, possibly, an average pair of tennis shoes. Other free options are mental-health therapies or spiritual practices like meditation, qigong, and attending support groups or worship services.
Other less-expensive options include chiropractic visits and gym memberships, and improving your diet. Yes, unprocessed food is slightly more expensive; but as you get healthier, you’ll notice that you’re less hungry, have fewer cravings, and eat fewer calories- that means less money spent on food- or food-like items. Spray cheese, yum!
C. Time Concerns
Are you really busy, and it’s hard to find the time to change your lifestyle and make better, healthier decisions? I’m going to tell you two things that will blow your mind: First, that I wholeheartedly believe you, and second, that this is a solvable problem.
We’ve all heard it: “If you really care, you’ll find the time to take care of your health.” But… that’s really not correct. No one person’s lifestyle is the same as anyone else’s, and it truly is possible that you may not have the time to cook healthy meals daily, exercise daily, or make other health-related decisions. That’s okay. It really is.
You do not have to be perfect; any health decision you make today will help you feel better; feel like you’ve accomplished something; and eventually have more energy to make a second healthy decision, then a third, then more. Health is a process; just start somewhere.
- How much time do you realistically have? If you can carve out two hours a month, then a one-hour massage or acupuncture session (one hour, plus 15-30 minutes’ drive time each way) would be a great option. Can you do 30 minutes twice a week? Then, with the same reasoning, look into chiropractic care. Do you only have time on weekends? Look into the team sports available in your area on weekends.
- Diet, exercise, and mind-body therapies are all CAM alternatives that require very few minutes at any one time. At the grocery store, pick more fruits and vegetables and skip the snack food aisle. Walk for 10 minutes around your building during a break. Stretch for 5 minutes while on a phone call and no one can see you. Meditate while you’re laying in bed before sleep. Do anything, then consciously pat yourself on the back, and try to do it again the next day. Consciously noticing that [your desired therapy] feels good will motivate you to keep doing that same thing until it becomes a habit.
D. Location Concerns
Do you have a medical condition that limits your ability to travel to a health care practitioner? Do you live in a rural area that is far from health care practitioners? Or do you perhaps live in a part of the country where alternative medicine practitioners are thin on the ground?
- Search on Google for alternative medicine practitioners. If you only have one acupuncturist and no naturopaths available, well then there’s your answer! Try acupuncture, and not naturopathy.
- Find a practitioner who will consult over the phone or Internet. This is more common for naturopaths, nutritionists, mental health services, and homeopaths. If you are interested, there are a few energy healers who work via phone and Internet to do “remote energy healing”- ie, energy healing from many miles away.
- Health care practitioners must conform to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and have wheelchair access to their offices.
D1. Home vs Office Concerns
If, due to location or other concerns, you require therapies you can do at home, here are some good alternatives for you:
1. Home DVDs or CDs can be done late at night or early in the morning, with children at home, and require no commuting time. Try home DVDs or CDs for different kinds of exercise, and meditation and guided imagery.
2. Home exercise: Most kinds of exercise require little to no equipment- no matter what the guy on TV is trying to sell you! Try calisthenics (pushups, sit-ups, etc); gardening; running, jogging, or walking.
3. Nutrition: Changing your diet can be done at home. Speak with a nutritionist to get the best advice that’s appropriate for you. Nutritionists and nutritional counselors also offer grocery store tours and pantry cleanups that help you start out strong; but maintaining the proper diet requires no other input. Find cookbooks that have recipes with few ingredients and few steps to minimize grocery store and cooking & cleanup time.
3. Picking Your Best Option!
Now that we’ve narrowed down what you shouldn’t do, let’s focus on what CAM option/s you should pick. This is the fun part!
It’s really fun because this is the section where your only consideration is:
***what sounds like the most fun?***
So. Take your list, all blacked out with marker, and look at the remaining options. Gym sounds awful? Don’t pick that one! Acupuncture sounds interesting? Go do that!
I know what you’re thinking now: Oh no! It can’t be that simple. What if I don’t like [the gym/gardening/meditating/Ayurvedic medicine]? Then, yay! Don’t do that therapy again, and then pick the next option that sounds really cool.
Put your list on the wall and throw darts to pick the next option, if you like. There is no wrong way to do this. Isn’t that cool?!
It really is that simple. This is your life, and you know what’s best for your life. Selecting a CAM therapy or therapies is easy, fun, and helps you feel better and then do more with your life. What could be better!
Did you learn a lot? Which CAM therapies do you do already, and which therapy are you going to try next? Leave your comments below.
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