How Tai Chi Might Help You With Your Recovery
There are a multitude of methods people use to help them on their journey of recovery. Because everyone’s process of healing is unique, there are many different approaches to how one can deal with things like added stress in their lives.
From exercise to meditation, every person uses a variety of tools that they keep handy while in recovery. One method that is becoming more and more popular for dealing with life and the stress that comes along with it while in recovery is Tai Chi.
Here’s everything you need to know about Tai Chi and how it can potentially help you on your recovery journey.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi comes from ancient Chinese roots that were based in both meditation and martial arts. It has been around for centuries and is used for self-defense, meditation, and a variety of health benefits. It focuses heavily on combining the different aspects of breathing, control, and fluid movement to help you feel more in touch with your body. The deliberate, smooth movements of Tai Chi and its heavy focus on your breathing help you to find harmony within your mind, body, and spirit. It combines both physical and mental work to help you feel your best.
The Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi has a multitude of different physical and mental health benefits and is used in a variety of different treatments across the world. Here are just some of the physical and mental health benefits many people get from practicing Tai Chi:
Mental Health Benefits
1. Stress Reliever and Anxiety Reducer
Over time, Tai Chi has developed into one of the greatest stress relievers for many people. The slow, precise movements and focus on your breath allow you to let go of the stress that has been building up in your life, if only for a little while. Mindful breathing is a massive help to those who deal with a lot of stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives.
2. Fights Impulsivity
Tai Chi has actually been seen to help fight impulsivity in those who begin practicing it — another great reason for those in recovery to give it a shot. Tai Chi revolves around control. This means knowing how to not only use, but regulate your mind, body, and spirit to work together. Instant gratification is something that we all struggle with and Tai Chi allows us to work on aspects of our mind and body to fight impulses and become more patient while doing so.
3. Improves Mood
Another great mental health benefit of Tai Chi is its ability to improve your mood. Tai Chi has been found to help improve many psychological aspects from your mood to your self-esteem. Getting your blood flowing and practicing these calming movements while clearing your mind is a great way to start your day with an elevated mood.
4. Provides Mental Clarity
Focusing on balance and harmony, Tai Chi allows you to clear your mind and focus on nothing but your breath and your movements. This form of mindfulness helps cure a busy mind with racing thoughts. Prioritizing slowing down and finding control, Tai Chi allows your mind to clear.
5. Improved Brain Function
Tai Chi has even been proven to help improve overall brain function. The practice promotes a sharp mind, being observant, and understanding yourself and your surroundings. Tai Chi is a form of multitasking that actually uses multiple different parts of your brain at once. This ultimately creates a sharper mind with improved brain function.
Physical Health Benefits
1. Improved Flexibility
By continually using muscles that you may not otherwise use normally, you are learning to use different muscle groups and stretching them out while doing so. Your flexibility will slowly improve not only from using new muscles and different parts of your body but by doing these movements repetitively and practicing holding them.
2. Increased Muscle Strength and Control
Tai Chi is an amazing way to improve your muscle strength and muscle control. It helps strengthen both your upper and lower body as well as your abdomen. Tai Chi is sometimes referred to as a weight-bearing exercise, meaning it’s training your muscles to be able to hold weight. The different movements and poses you do help increase your overall muscle strength while also helping you learn to control them.
3. Better Motor Function
Harvard Medical School found that Tai Chi helps improve overall motor function in many people that have been practicing it regularly and especially with specific muscular diseases such as Parkinson’s. Because Tai Chi focuses heavily on balance and weight-bearing movement, motor function becomes much easier and smoother for many. Tai Chi is an especially great method to slowly immerse yourself back into the world of exercise, too.
4. Helps Circulation
Studies have found that Tai Chi not only helps improve circulation throughout your body but also decreases blood pressure and helps cardio-pulmonary function. Getting your body moving is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help your body function properly. Many people actually struggle with poor circulation and don’t realize it. Tai Chi is a great way to help.
5. Better Sleep
Another amazing aspect of Tai Chi is its ability to help you sleep. Sleep is so immensely important to our well-being and is often neglected in our hectic lives. Many of us in recovery also know that sleep can be a big struggle, especially early on in recovery. Tai Chi helps promote better sleep because it is a form of exercise that also exercises your mind. Even adults who practice Tai Chi twice a week have found they have much more restful sleep.
How Can Tai Chi Help With Recovery?
Because of the many mental and physical health benefits that come along with Tai Chi, people in recovery are able to work on themselves and find some much-needed relief along the way. Tai Chi is a form of mindfulness that is now used by people all over the world to help them heal in their own unique ways. Here are just a few of the ways that Tai Chi can help you on your road to recovery:
1. Stress Reliever
One of the biggest reasons Tai Chi is used by many of us in recovery is that it has the amazing ability to help not only cope with stress but to reduce it. Recovery is one of the most stressful things a person can put themselves through, and you need healthy ways to cope and get through it. Tai Chi, combined with therapy, also has shown significant positive results for those in recovery.
2. Mood Stabilizer/Helps You Focus
In the early stages of recovery, many people find themselves struggling to control their emotions. Whether it’s irritability or sadness or even extreme energy, Tai Chi can help you find balance within yourself and the emotions you are experiencing. It also helps you set time aside for yourself so that you can focus on your priorities and what is important in your journey of healing.
3. Coping Mechanism
In recovery, we all need healthy coping mechanisms. Tai Chi is a great way to clear your mind from the obstacles in your life and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the greatest coping mechanisms we have in our toolbox. Tai Chi helps you to take a step back from your chaotic life and just breathe — which is something we all need to do every once in a while.
4. Helps Brain Function
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that certain drugs can change the way your brain sends and receives different chemicals. Because of this, when a person is using a drug heavily, certain chemicals are often released in the wrong amounts. In recovery, your brain is slowly learning how to function regularly again. Tai Chi is a sensory experience that integrates many parts of your brain and has actually been found to help many people’s brains in recovery regain normal function.
5. More Restful Sleep
Again, sleep is immensely important to our well-being. Especially in recovery, getting the right amount of sleep you need is crucial to be able to keep functioning properly. Because Tai Chi is a form of exercise that also works your mind, it promotes much-needed deep sleep and helps people get more restful sleep.
Where Do I Start With Tai Chi?
The best place to begin with Tai Chi is finding an in-person class to teach you first. While there are many other resources such as books or videos, Tai Chi is an art that involves all of your senses and is best learned by instruction and with help along the way from an experienced teacher.
From there, you can begin to practice Tai Chi on your own, too. One of the great benefits of Tai Chi is that it can be done in the comfort of your own backyard or home if needed. It’s a great way to relax and deal with stress, even if you don’t have anything scheduled for the day.
Your Own Journey of Recovery
Your healing process and journey of recovery are unique to you. There are a multitude of methods out there for you to try and find what helps you feel best. Allowing yourself to take time to try these different methods and find what helps you cope is one of the most important steps of recovery. Tai Chi may be one of those methods for you.
If you are on the road to recovery and looking for a way to deal with stress or just the difficulties of everyday life, Tai Chi might be the perfect thing for you. Tai Chi focuses on finding harmony with your mind, body, and spirit. With deliberate movements and mindful breathing, Tai Chi has become a great tool in the recovery kit of people all over the world. Maybe it will be a great one for you, too.