When so much is uncertain in the world around us, it is natural for our anxieties to rise and our emotions to fluctuate. But when you let your emotions run wild, the imbalance can spell trouble for your long-term health.
The Chinese healing tradition groups emotions into five predominant states: joy, rumination (including worry), sadness, fear, and anger. Experiencing these emotions is a normal part of life, and you usually shift naturally from one to the next in reaction to events that pop up in your day. However, when one single emotion dominates, it brings your entire body out of balance and can produce illness. Learning to manage your emotions is essential for your happiness, health, and longevity.
1. Nerve-Calming Neurotransmitter
A healthy brain has a balanced chemistry that can cope more effectively with emotional stress. Some neurotransmitters in the brain excite the nerves, while others have a calming effect. One such neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is a chemical that is especially helpful when emotional turmoil strikes. As the primary neurotransmitter for calming nerve signals, it prevents anxiety-related messages from reaching the brain. However, over time the body’s production of the chemical wanes, and when you have low levels of GABA, you may begin to feel an increase in anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and depression. Good sources of GABA include almonds, whole wheat, mackerel, halibut, whole oats, beef liver, walnuts, rice bran, lentils, and brown rice. When you take GABA as a dietary supplement be sure to pair it with vitamin B6, which helps your body best utilize the nutrient.
2. Herbal Assist for Balance
According to Chinese medicine, the liver is thought to be the seat of emotional expression. When healthy, the liver network naturally balances your emotional state and releases suppressed emotions. A blockage of liver energy is said to manifest as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some herbs have traditionally been used to give the liver an added boost in the following ways:
• Dandelion cleanses the liver and helps support healthy emotional expressions
• Milk thistle protects and restores the liver
• Schisandra berry protects the liver from toxins and soothes emotional anxiety.
• Chrysanthemum flower is used to cleanse the liver and clear toxins.
• White peony root soothes the liver and balances mood.
These herbs are available from health food stores and Eastern medicine practitioners. Consider trying the herbal formula Internal Cleanse, which clears energy stagnation and supports liver health.
3. Exercise Releases Pent-up Emotions
When people do not have a healthy outlet to release their emotions, they become trapped in the body and can eventually result in physical pain. Common symptoms that may point to trapped feelings in your body are pains in the back, neck, shoulders, jaw area, or stomach, congestion in the ear or nose, a lump in your throat, chest tightness, or shortness of breath.
Often unrecognized as pent-up emotions, these blockages may cause more serious harm to your health down the road — manifesting as chronic pain or even growths. Let go of these negative emotions by using massage therapy, exercise, yoga, tai chi, or qi gong as ways to get your energy flowing freely.
4. Take a Time-out
Every parent can pinpoint when their young children are about to have an emotional breakdown—they are overtired, hungry, and hurried. Unfortunately, adults do not consider the impact of stress on their own emotional lives. Rest and relaxation are essential for emotional balance. Just as you schedule restful activities for your children like story-time or naptime, create some of your own relaxing rituals. Take a bath in Epsom salts, scent the air with lavender, or read quietly in a calm corner.
5. Expand Emotional Elasticity
Use deep breathing and rest to restore your metabolic equilibrium. Sometime during your busy day find time to close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. Even better, meditate on a daily basis to head off emotional extremes before they start. Studies show that people who meditate are calm, slower to anger, and better able to find their way through problems to good outcomes. Try spending 10 to 15 minutes in meditative relaxation each day and watch your emotional elasticity expand! There are many meditation guides and CDs that can help you learn the practice. You may want to try my guided meditation CD called Meditation for Stress Release.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com