TLC for Hepatitis C: Help Your Body Heal
When you have hepatitis C, it's important to keep cool, calm and collected. Sidestep stress with these techniques, and reap tons of benefits.
Practicing relaxation techniques is like taking a mini-vacation from hepatitis C, helping you feel rested and renewed. Massage, meditation, visualization and yoga can help ease stress, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and improve your mood. Learn how.
"The act of being touched is good for your nervous system, circulation and muscles," says Steven Hartman, dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga at The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA.
This practice, which comes from Eastern religious and spiritual traditions, can produce a deep state of relaxation and peace. In meditation, you focus on a word, your breath or the present moment to disengage from the "chatter" in your mind. This results in a feeling of emotional and physical well-being.
Here's how to get started:
- Still your body. Sit up tall and straight on a meditation cushion or chair. If you lie down, make sure your spine is straight. Find a place of comfortable stillness.
- Deliberately calm your breath. Slow your breathing to calm your body and focus your attention.
- Focus on your breath for five minutes. When your attention wanders from your breath, bring it back. Try meditations that are geared specifically for hepatitis C at hepcmeditations.org.
Using your imagination and positive thoughts can ease symptoms and help you deal with any treatment side effects you may experience. Instead of being apprehensive about treatment, suggests Hartman, "visualize the treatment healing you. See your cells as healthy and filled with light." To get started with visualization, lie down, take a few deep breaths and picture yourself in a safe place, perhaps a meadow or on a soft, sandy beach. Visualize yourself as happy and healthy. A classic visualization CD is Shakti Gawain's Creative Visualization.
There are many types of yoga exercise. All include movements and postures that improve flexibility and strength, while reducing the stress of living with hepatitis C. Check with your doctor before you start a yoga program, and let your yoga instructor know that you have a liver disease. Certain poses can be dangerous if your liver is swollen and inflamed because of hepatitis C.