Written by Tamryn Burgess
Think of the last time you caught a cold, had sore muscles, or experienced some sort of stomach upset...
Like most people, these symptoms you felt likely led you to seeking out a solution (usually in the form of medicine), yet it’s this very outward search for “cure” that has caused us to lose awareness and power of our inner mind/body connection.
Throughout history, some (like Freud and Traditional Chinese Medicine) have illuminated the subject of emotional state (1) being tied to physical health and spiritual self improvement, yet it remains a fairly elusive subject to the general public... especially in the west.
Fortunately, we can turn to holistic health and integrative medicine, which at its foundation uncovers the links between emotion and physical health. In this article we’ll explore 5 of these very connections, along with healthy ways you can deal with them in order to achieve balance.
ANGER AND THE LIVER
Feelings of frustration, rage, and aggravation can seriously cause unbalance in the liver and gallbladder. When you find yourself in a place where anger is taking over, you may start to experience more frequent headaches, or spells of dizziness.
If you start to notice these signs, it may be time to figure out how to bring calm back into your life so that you can learn to go with the flow and healthily process these emotions.
Some may find meditation a great way for managing anger, others may find tough sports like kickboxing or crossfit to be a better fit. Journaling regularly and opening up to a trusted person close to you can help immensely.
You can also take control of these anger energies and restore balance to your liver by removing alcohol and fatty, fast foods from your diet. Replace them with sour and green foods like dandelion greens, cabbage, avocado, green bell pepper, bok choy, and citrus to name a few.
GRIEF AND THE LUNGS
Often a very painful process, feelings of grief and sadness are directly connected to the health of the lungs and large intestine. After losing a loved one, thoughts like “I never got to say goodbye” or “I should have apologized for what I did all those years ago” start to come up and restrict movement in the lungs which results in physical manifestations of crying, tightness in the chest, frequent colds, and difficulty breathing.
In times like these, it’s vital to remember that nothing is permanent, and we are in a continual state of growth. Joining a grief counselling group, supporting the health of your lungs by increasing your pranayama practice, and avoiding “numbing” activities like drugs and alcohol are all a great start.
Eat nourishing foods like sprouted grains and seeds, low fat protein, and other light colored foods like mushrooms, radish, and white meat.
WORRY AND THE STOMACH
We’ve all experienced butterflies in the stomach at some point in our lives. Whether as a child about to step on stage during a school play, or as an adult walking in to an important job interview. Feelings of worry and/or anxiety tend to manifest themselves in the stomach area.
Knots in the stomach, diarrhea, and nausea are all symptoms people who worry excessively tend to experience.
When you’re feeling this way, it’s important not to try and purposefully suppress these very normal emotions, but rather learn to take a spectators view. Observe the emotion, and let it pass, before returning to your task or activity at hand.
Introduce probiotic and fermented foods (yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi) into your diet to help restore healthy gut bacteria, while removing foods like dairy, fried and processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine that aggravate digestive issues.
FEAR AND THE KIDNEYS
Feelings of fear is a completely natural human response, however; when it becomes a chronic emotion this can lead to problems in the kidneys. Young children are most susceptible to this, as fear causes a loss of energy in the kidneys, which leads to lack of control in the bladder.
Adults suffering from fear, insecurity, and weak willpower may experience an increase in need to urinate, night sweats, hair loss, and even premature grey hair growth.
Practicing stress reduction techniques like meditation, tai chi, or aerobics can go a long way in helping you lessen the anxiety.
You can also start to support and rebalance the kidneys with low sodium foods like cauliflower, blueberries, red grapes, buckwheat, cabbage, arugula, and pineapple.
LONELINESS AND THE HEART
Balanced emotions rely heavily on relationships with other people, or so says the 80+ year study (2) of Adult Development by Harvard. This isn’t far fetched at all since those who are lonely, typically don’t have anyone to talk to. When we have others around us, our emotions are more readily regulated.
Not surprisingly, the organ related to loneliness is the heart. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all related to a lack of social network (3).
It seems the obvious thing to then do is foster new relationships by attending meeting groups, signing up for activities you might enjoy, and being available for those around you.
Support your heart through healthy foods like fatty fish, nuts, berries, avocados, and dark chocolate. Remove toxic foods like processed, fried, and vegetable oil based foods.
Next time you experience any of the above emotions, try to use the given solutions and see how they work for you. However, remember that at the end of the day, getting to the root of the very triggers causing the emotions is ultimately going to be the key to unlocking your ability to uproot those roots and find peace within.