| ||Integrative Medicine: Stress Reduction for Relief of Fibroids & Endometriosis||
Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply.
Clench your hands into fists and hold them tightly for 15 seconds. As you do this, relax the rest of your body. Visualize the tense part contracting, becoming tighter and tighter.
Then let your hands relax. On relaxing, see a golden light flowing into the entire body, making all your muscles soft and pliable.
Now, tense and relax the following parts of your body in this order: face, shoulders, back, stomach, pelvis, legs, feet, and toes. Hold each part tensed for 15 seconds and then relax your body for 30 seconds before going on to the next part.
Finish the exercise by shaking your hands and imagining the remaining tension flowing out of your fingertips.
Exercise 6: Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that describe how you want your body to be. They are very important because they align your mind with your body in a positive way. As the healing meditations (exercise 3) achieve this goal through the use of positive images, affirmations do it through the power of suggestion. Your state of health is determined in part by the interaction between your mind and body via the thousands of messages you send yourself each day with your thoughts. You can aggravate your fibroid and endometrial menstrual bleeding and cramps as well as pelvic discomfort with negative thoughts, because when your body believes it is sick, it behaves accordingly. Thus, it is essential to cultivate a positive belief system and a positive body image as part of your healing program. It is not enough to follow an excellent diet and a vigorous exercise routine when you are in the process of healing menstrual cramps. You must also tell your body that it is a well, fully functional system. I have seen people stay ill and sabotage their healing program by sending themselves a barrage of negative messages. Sit in a comfortable position. Repeat the following affirmations. Repeat three times those that are particularly important to you.
Exercise 7: Visualizations
- My female system is strong and healthy.
- My hormonal levels are perfectly balanced and regulated.
- My body chemistry is healthy and balanced.
- I go through my monthly menstrual cycle with ease and comfort.
- My menstrual flow self-regulates. I have light to moderate bleeding.
- My body is relaxed and pain-free.
- My vaginal muscles are relaxed and comfortable.
- My cervix and uterus are relaxed and pain-free.
- My uterus is normal in size and shape.
- My menstrual flow leaves my body easily and effortlessly each month.
- My body feels wonderful as I start each monthly period.
- I barely know that my body is getting ready to menstruate.
- I feel wonderful each month before I menstruate.
- My uterus is relaxed and receptive; I welcome my monthly period.
- My low back muscles feel supple and pliable with each menstrual cycle.
- I am relaxed and at ease as my period approaches.
- I desire a well balanced and healthful diet.
- I eat only the foods that are good for my female body.
- It is a real pleasure to take good care of my body.
- I do the level of exercise that keeps my body healthy and supple.
- I handle stress easily and in a relaxed manner.
- I love my body; I feel at ease in my body.
- My body is pain-free and relaxed.
Visualization exercises help you lay down the mental blueprint for a healthier body. This powerful technique can stimulate positive chemical and hormonal changes in your body to help create the desired outcome. Through positive visualization, you are imaging your body the way you want it to function and be. The body can modify its chemical and hormonal output in response to this technique and move toward a state of improved health. As a result, you may find this technique useful for reducing the symptoms and severity of both fibroids and endometriosis.
Patients with many types of illnesses have used visualization to great benefit. The technique was pioneered by Carl Simonton, M.D., a cancer radiation therapist who used visualization with his patients. Aware that his patients tended to see their cancer as a "big destructive monster," he had them instead visualize their immune systems as big white knights or white sharks attacking the small and insignificant cancer cells and destroying them (instead of the other way around). In many cases, he saw his patients' health improve.
This visualization exercise for fibroids and endometriosis uses an "erasure" image that helps you see your fibroids or the endometrial implants melt away and disappear. Simply skip the part of the exercise that does not pertain to your symptoms.
More Stress Reduction Techniques
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes. Begin to breathe deeply. Inhale and let the air out slowly. Feel your body begin to relax.
- Imagine that you can look, as if through a magic mirror, deep inside your own body.
- Focus on any areas of your reproductive tract that you sense contain endometrial implants. See any lesions, cysts, or scarring that the endometriosis has caused. You may visualize the actual implants, or you may simply see the endometriosis as discolored areas within your body (colors such as gray or brown are common).
- Next, imagine a large eraser, like the kind used to erase chalk marks, coming into your pelvic area. See this eraser rubbing the areas of endometriosis. See these implants begin to loosen, shrink, and finally disappear.
- Now, look at your female organs. See your uterus and ovaries. They are an attractive pink color. Your uterus is relaxed and supple. Any fibroid tumors are melting away as you look at them. Your uterus is becoming its normal size and shape. Your uterus has good blood circulation. Look at your ovaries. They are extremely healthy and put out just the right levels of hormones. They are shiny and pink and look like two almonds. The fallopian tubes that pick up the eggs and bring them to the uterus are totally open and healthy.
- Look at your abdominal and low back muscles. They are soft and pliable with a healthy muscle tone. They are relaxed and free of tension during your menstrual period. Your abdomen is flat and your fluid balance is perfect in your pelvic area.
- Look at your entire body and enjoy the sense of peace and calm running through your body. You feel wonderful.
- Stop visualizing the scene, and focus on your deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
- You open your eyes and feel very good. Visualizing this scene should take a minute or two. Linger on any images that particularly please you.
The rest of this chapter explains other techniques that I have found useful for relaxing tight and tense muscles. You can also use these methods to induce deep emotional relaxation. Try them for a delightful experience.
For centuries, people have used warm water to relax their muscles and calm their mood. You can create your own "spa" at home by adding relaxing ingredients to the bath water. I have found two recipes extremely useful in relieving muscle pain and tension related to fibroids or endometriosis.
Recipe 1: Alkaline Bath.Run a tub of warm water. Heat will increase your menstrual flow, so keep the water a little cooler if that is a problem. Add one cup of sea salt and one cup of bicarbonate of soda to the tub. As this is a highly alkaline mixture, I recommend using it only once or twice a month. I've found it very helpful in reducing cramps and calming anxiety and irritability. Soak for 20 minutes. You will probably feel relaxed and sleepy after this bath. Try it at night before going to sleep. You will probably wake up feeling refreshed and energized the following day. Heat of any kind helps to release muscle tension. You may also want to try a hot water bottle or a heating pad to relieve cramps.
Recipe 2: Hydrogen Peroxide Bath.This is one of my personal favorites. Hydrogen peroxide is a combination of water and oxygen. By adding it to your bath, you "hyperoxygenate" the water. This helps to induce muscle relaxation. Hydrogen peroxide is inexpensive and can be purchased from your local drug store or supermarket. I usually add three pint bottles of the 3 percent solution to a full tub of warm water and soak for up to 30 minutes. If you use the stronger food or technical grade hydrogen peroxide (35 percent strength), add only 6 ounces. With the more concentrated peroxide, be sure to avoid direct contact with your hands or eyes and keep it stored in a cool place, as it is a very powerful oxidizer.
Music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies. For women with fibroid or endometriosis-related cramps and pain, I recommend slow, quiet music, classical music is particularly good. This type of music can have a pronounced beneficial effect on your physiological functions. It can slow your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your levels of stress hormones. It can also help reduce anxiety and induce sleep for women with cramps. Equally beneficial are nature sounds, such as ocean waves and rainfall; these sounds can also induce a sense of peace and relaxation. I have patients who keep tapes of nature sounds in their car and at home for use when they feel stressed. Play relaxing music often as your menstrual cycle approaches and you are aware of increased levels of emotional and physical tension.
Biofeedback therapy is an effective way to relieve pain of all kinds caused by muscular tension, as well as poor circulation caused by narrowing of the blood vessel diameter. Constriction of the skeletal muscles and the smooth muscle of the blood vessel wall usually occurs on an unconscious basis, so a person is not even aware that it's happening. A variety of factors, including emotional stress and nutritional or chemical imbalances, can trigger this involuntary muscle tension. This constriction can worsen problems such as fibroids, endometriosis, migraine headaches, and high blood pressure.
Using biofeedback therapy, people learn to recognize when they are tensing their muscles. Once this response is understood, fibroid and endometriosis sufferers can learn to relax their muscles to help relieve the pain. Since muscle relaxation both decreases muscular discomfort and improves blood flow, either factor can be monitored. For relief of cramps, women can learn how to implement biofeedback therapy through a series of training sessions, requiring about 10 to 15 thirty minute office visits with a trained professional. During these sessions, a thermometer is inserted into the vagina like a tampon. The thermometer is connected to a digital readout machine that monitors the woman's internal temperature. The professional teaches her how to consciously change her vaginal temperature. Even a slight rise in the temperature indicates better blood flow and muscle relaxation in the pelvic area, with a concomitant relief of menstrual pain.
After the training sessions, most women are able to raise their temperature at will and thereby control their own cramps. I went through biofeedback training many years ago and found that it had a significant effect on my level of muscle tension. Many hospitals and university centers have biofeedback units, as do stress management clinics, so it is relatively easy to find a treatment facility that offers this type of therapy.
Putting Your Stress Reduction Program Together
This chapter has introduced many different ways to reset your mind and body to help make menstruation a calm and relaxed time of the month and ease the symptoms of fibroids and endometriosis. Try each exercise at least once. Experiment with them until you find the combination that works for you. Doing all seven exercises will take no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how much time you wish to spend with each one. Ideally, you should do the exercises at least a few minutes each day. Over time, they will help you gain insight into your negative beliefs and change them into positive new ones. Your ability to cope with stress should improve tremendously.
(Excerpted from The Fibroid Tumors & Endometriosis Self Help Book ISBN: 0890877734)
|Dr. Susan M. Lark is one of the foremost authorities on women's health issues and is the author of nine books. She has served on the faculty of Stanford University Medical School...more
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