Taking Care of Your Mental and Emotional Health

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In life, there are sometimes obstacles that we don’t quite know how to overcome or resolve. We all have times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed, when we find it hard to keep a positive mindset, when we feel discouraged or fearful or suffocatingly sad.

Perhaps we are overwhelmed with caretaking duties or with work, are in the midst of a run of back luck, or perhaps we have lost a job, lost a family member or are just having trouble adapting to new life situations, even happy ones.

The week of May 5th is Mental Health Week, so I thought I would address these challenges from a Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) perspective. In the context of this medicine, our mental health and physical health are inter-related. Emotions (particularly emotions that we stay stuck in for long periods) can affect our physical health, and our physical health can affect, to an extent, the emotions that we may be more prone to experiencing. For example, an over-taxed Liver from the intake of poor-quality food or too much alcohol can make us more prone to irritability or anger; and likewise, if our emotional response to life circumstances is to feel anger or frustration frequently, then this can burden our Liver and affect its proper functioning.

So how do we cope when life is particularly challenging or when we are in a period of chronic depression or anxiety? Of course it is wise to accept all the support that is available to us in the form of family and friends and to talk out our problems with them as much as we are comfortable. But for more complex or stubborn problems, people may want to see a psychologist, such as our own Dr. Michaela Kadambi, to address the limiting beliefs or learned behaviors that may be keeping them stuck.

And of course, in addition to addressing the thoughts or emotions that are wearing us down, it is also important to take care of ourselves physically as well, with healthy food choices, appropriate exercise (yoga is a great one for helping to manage stress), and of course taking care of ourselves with acupuncture and massage. All these ways of caring for ourselves physically help to regulate our nervous systems, so that we don’t react as strongly to the stress that we are experiencing.

Another innovative way of working with our thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms is with meridian tapping, also called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on certain acupuncture points while focusing on the thoughts, memories or other stressors that are triggering us emotionally. Tapping on acupuncture points while focusing on these stressors helps regulate the stress response. Like acupuncture, this technique has been shown to lower elevated cortisol levels. Once we learn how, meridian tapping is something we can do for ourselves, and when used regularly and effectively, it helps us stay more positive and focused in stressful or uncomfortable situations. A great website to learn more about this technique is www.tappingsolution.com, run by Nick Ortner, who has written a book and produced a video documentary, both about meridian tapping.

So if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, take some positive steps toward better mental health! If you incorporate a few of these suggestions into your life, I’m sure that over time you will be happy with the changes that you experience.

For more information, contact us!