We all experience clouds of sadness that pass by or heavy emotions that weigh on us. These can be natural phases of life but also may linger to be more than a phase or may occur in cycles; and you may need some extra support to see them through. Low moods can have various triggers; or seemingly none at all. It may come and go for some seasonally, based on hormonal cycles, a tragic event or a loss of something or someone.
In Chinese Medicine, our emotions are intimately linked with our physical body and health. Each organ system corresponds to an emotion and a combination of these can affect what we experience as a low mood.
-Our Liver corresponds to anger and can manifest as irritability and emotional or hormonal mood swings worsened in stressful periods of life.
-Our Lungs correspond with sadness and grief. When experiencing loss, there can be a heaviness in our chest and long-term grief without letting go, can impair the lungs.
-Our Hearts correspond to joy and the vigor of life. There may be times that this joy can be dampened by other emotions affecting the heart in ways such as insomnia, palpitations, or issues with speech.
-Our Spleen corresponds to worry and overthinking. This can be taxing on our minds and bring on low moods as well as tax our digestion leaving us feeling sluggish and unmotivated.
-Our Kidneys correspond to fear or dread. It could be affected by fearful events or a weakness in this organ system can cause a tendency to be fearful of various events or activities.
These multiple physical systems intertwining with our emotions and moods explain why low moods and mental health require holistic perspective and treatment. It also emphasizes that looking after the physical body, will greatly benefit our mental health.
What you can do to see you through a low mood:
-Process feelings of sadness or grief. This may look like journaling, talking to a trusted friend, family member or professional counselor or therapist.
-Bring yourself into the present: Grief and sadness links itself often with the past whilst anxiety with the future – both of which can trigger low moods. It may be helpful to look around and make physical contact with the objects around you, bringing your consciousness to where you are in space and time. Practicing gratitude daily can also reduce how often the blues come by.
-Look after your physical health: there’s a myriad of factors to this. Our diet, exercise and lifestyle habits often need to be reviewed. Treatments such as Chinese Medicine incorporates these factors and looks at overall health in terms of the physical, mental, and spiritual health of an individual.
A practitioner can often walk you through a journey to better mental health as we unravel the intricacies of our physical ailments and the mysteries of the mind.
*Disclaimer: if you are experiencing extreme depressive moods or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to call the 24/7 Lifeline Crisis Support Line on 13 11 11.
By Dr Ivana Low (TCM)