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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Porritt

Why bother with complementary therapies?

This week is National Complementary Therapies Week, and the use of Complementary Therapies is most certainly on the rise. In 2017 it was estimated that somewhere in the region of 9 million people in the UK were using some form of complementary therapy, and this number is almost certainly growing every year. Now, I feel I should point out, these people are using therapies that “complement” their existing medical treatments, as opposed to being instead of them. As complementary therapists, we are always very keen to work with conventional medicine!

But why are all these people using “nutjobs”, “hippies” and “snake oil sellers”? Well, for a start I would say that good quality therapists complete comprehensive training programmes, which demand a certain number of hours spent working with patients to refine their techniques and gain experience. Not to mention that most therapists will belong to at least one professional body and adhere to professional standards of conduct and best practice. But let’s have a look at some of the reasons people see their appointments for massage, reflexology, acupuncture and chiropractic as necessities, rather than luxuries.

· Looking at the cause, not the symptom. It’s admittedly very easy to reach for the painkillers for that headache or back ache, but if it’s happening more and more, perhaps it may be worth looking at changing your posture and going for regular massage rather than using medication?

· Improving quality of life. For those living with chronic pain conditions, or cancer, Complementary therapies may help them to cope more easily with their symptoms, or the side effects of their medication.

· Getting better quality sleep. Sleep is up there with nutrition and exercise as one of the main pillars of healthy living. Long term, without enough sleep, we could be looking at several different health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Short term, lack of sleep affects our concentration, cognitive abilities, mood, and appetite.

· The power of touch. Think how much a newborn baby demands to be held, to be touched. We may be older, but not so different. Human beings need positive touch to thrive, to feel nurtured and cared for. Not only our bodies but our minds need that connection sometimes. Just think how odd it was to not be able to hug our friends and family over lockdown. And how good it felt the first time you did. That’s how much we need positive touch in our lives, and why a therapy such as massage or reflexology make us feel so much better!

· To reduce stress. It has been suggested that over 90% of GP visits can, in some way, be traced back to stress as a cause. Complementary therapies often concentrate on relaxation and stress reduction. By helping you to go through life more calmly, relieving anxiety and stress, these therapies can improve your general wellbeing and help you to live life to the full.

· Taking control of your life. When stress is a major factor in your everyday life, whether it be caused by life in general, illness, or a specific situation, it can be so easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control. By proactively seeking to do something about the stress, we can feel empowered. Complementary therapies could be the first step in other lifestyle choices that could make your life happier, and healthier.

In my experience, complementary therapies are a great way to improve wellbeing and reduce stress, and to make the most of your life. And what better time to think about booking an appointment than on National Complementary Therapies Week!

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