Dealing with your stress – from the inside out
Time and time again in practice I see that physical problems connected to a specific organ often present with certain emotions. Weakness in the lungs alongside sadness or grief. Patients with liver issues struggling with anger or moodiness. This isn’t merely coincidence. Chinese Medicine believes our organs have more than physical responsibilities: they sit on an energetic and emotional level and inter-relate with one another.
In Chinese Medicine the liver is the organ in charge of making sure all of the Qi in the body flows smoothly and in the correct manner and direction. Qi is the energy that flows through the body to aid the movement of blood, lymph, nutrients and toxins. The liver is considered to be like a military general, directing the movement of Qi in the body – but when weak or overburdened by toxins, it loses this ability.
Our busy liver is also in charge of filtering all of the toxins out of the blood and handling mental and emotional stress. For example, according to Chinese Medicine, headaches and/or shoulder pain are often a manifestation of the liver holding stress in the energetic channels of the body.1
The ancient Chinese saw stress as ‘Qi stagnation’, more specifically Qi stagnation relating to the energy of the liver. We have so much liver Qi stagnation (or stress) due to our modern lifestyle. Poor diets and sleep quality, environmental toxins, even just sitting at a desk all day – it all has an impact. Our livers are overwhelmed by emotions and worries, lusts and desires, and physical stagnation. Frequent sighing or irritability is a sure sign of mild liver Qi stagnation. The Chinese blame Qi stagnation as one of the root causes of almost all our modern diseases.2 It’s a view well echoed by Western science:
“The role played by stress in the causation of cancer is so great that it would not be an exaggeration to say that 80% or more of cancer cases have their immediate origin in some form of mental pressure or strain. Grief, distress, fear, worry and anger are emotions which have horrible effects on the body’s functions.”
Dr Cass Igram (Eat Right or Die Young)3
The Chinese believe that emotions can make you physically ill. In acute situations we have all experienced really desiring something that we have been denied. The common reaction to this is anger, which creates powerful physical symptoms. Our blood pressure rises, our heart starts to beat furiously until we can feel the pulse in our ears, a sudden headache and feeling of tension may develop in the jaw, neck and arms.
So how can we help our liver and reduce stress in the body?
Soothe the agitation in our liver and we’ll sleep better at night and be happier and more productive during the day. The liver is vital to our health and wellness so we must protect it, nurture it and bring it back into a state of calm and comfort.
It’s all very well going on walks to get your circulation pumping, breathing fresh air, being in nature, making healthier food choices, a Qi Gong or yoga class, a massage, some acupuncture treatment, resting in quiet contentment and gratitude for all that we have. All of these lifestyle choices are also recommended by doctors and we are all in agreement that these things help. But in the reality of daily life, if managing to do those things is too difficult, remember that baby steps really do have a massive impact.
So by practising our One-Minute rituals every day you will notice a difference straight-away. This is a routine that’s doable even on the toughest of days. And those are the days when you need help the most. Think about it: when we are stressed most of us drink wine, we don’t go to yoga. We need a simple solution.
In addition to the rituals, there are all sorts of steps you can take to protect and support your health. Sign up to our free newsletter and receive a wealth of information.