Mental Health Awareness Month Day 26 Tai Chi and Qigong

Have you done Tai Chi or Qigong?  I have never done Tai Chi and did Qigong one time when I was 8 months pregnant and really stressed with high blood pressure and on bed rest. I have learned a little about how they help with stress, anxiety, and depression, but would love to learn more as well as actually practice them.

How do these activities help your mental wellbeing? In an article from UCLA Center for East West Medicine, it mentions that there are psychopharmacological means to treat serious mental illness, they are not the only way to treat mental health. When I did an online class on anxiety, that program talked about using non-pharmacological means to treat anxiety for the long term. Cost and side effects as well as sometimes even remembering to take medication or even not wanting to take meds can be a deterrent to taking meds. Using mind-body techniques can be more cost effective, have fewer if no side effects, and even help boost the effectiveness of prescriptions. 

What is it about Tai Chi and Qigong that are helpful? Both of these practices involve movement, breathing, and mindfulness. They are movement oriented and can be helpful when you feel like you can’t sit still, but you also need to relax. These activities are both active exercises as well as mindful exercises. This combination can be beneficial to the mind-body response to stress. There are been formal studies regarding this, but unfortunately the studies have been small in size. My thoughts about using mind-body practices are that they have few side effects and can be helpful especially when done alongside medication. I will state very clearly, that while there are issues with pharmacological meds at times, you should never stop your meds without the supervision of a doctor or nurse practitioner. 

Tai Chi and Qigong are good options to try. They may or may not help, but like I tell patients, it is always good to have a number of tools on your toolbox for stress reduction, anxiety, or depression. What works in one situation may not work in another and what works today may not work another day or vice versa. Having options is helpful and important.



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