In the previous article from this series, we looked at how you can easily implement Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for physical ailments into your everyday life. Now, let’s take a closer look at how TCM can help with mental health too.
Our thoughts and our health
We all know that the minute we start to feel depressed, we seem to instantly become more susceptible to colds and other viruses. It is also much harder to get over them, too. Feeling low, sad, tired, depressed or just downright unhappy has always been linked to our physical condition, and none more so than in TCM. The tenets of Chinese medicine state that negative emotions and negative thinking, in any aspect, are the main causes of disease. The link between body and mind is referred to as Qi, and disruptions in this energy flow can prove disastrous to our health. So how does one restore Qi and maintain their health?
Sleeping and TCM
TCM expresses that sleep is essential to our body’s balance. Feeling tired may be a common sensation, especially if you have a family or a busy job. Even daily life can make us feel overwhelmed and exhausted. To really get the best out your sleep, you should consider the idea of yin and yang. Chinese medicine recommends that you should go to sleep at the time when yin is most dominant, during the hours of 11 p.m and 1 a.m. You should then wake up when yang is predominant, which usually occurs before 12 p.m. TCM also promotes the benefits of having a short nap during the afternoon, although this may be harder to accomplish than we would like!
The seasons are also important in dictating our sleeping patterns. During spring and summer, we should wake up earlier and go to bed later. However, in autumn as yin begins to gain strength, we should wake up later and go to bed earlier. In winter, this should ideally be at sundown and sunrise. This is quite difficult to maintain during the working week and is quite undesirable at the weekends, but it is an interesting concept to bear in mind during the change of the seasons.
Feng shui and TCM
Feng shui seems a terribly outdated concept from 90’s now, but it does have a firm base in managing our emotions. The philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine states that our living surroundings directly impact on our mental health. Ideally, our home should promote creativity, comfort and make us feel revitalized. There are a million guides online on how to organise your home according to feng shui, but generally speaking, you should be able to have access to fresh air, natural light, a certain level of humidity but most of all, our homes should be peaceful. For more information on feng shui and how to implement it in your home, take a look here.
Meditation and TCM
Meditation enjoys a certain degree of popularity these days and often appears in yoga classes the world over. There are plenty of workshops, retreats and apps that aim to support our mental health through meditation. The origins of meditation itself come from TCM and have been adapted over the years. The aim is not only to help with relaxation and de-stressing, but to restore the flow of Qi. Another key belief is that if the mind is not at rest, neither is the body and rest is essential to preserving health. For meditation techniques to try at home, have a read of this guide. So, what are the real benefits of meditation? Firstly, it helps to promote a general feeling of relaxation, something that eludes many of us at times. The effect on our blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels can be profound. Meditation can also help us to deal with stressful situations that may otherwise ruin our day. Of course, the key to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate and it can start with some simple breathing exercises. The best part is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. You do not even need to close your eyes or assume a yogic position. Sitting at your desk and taking a moment to breathe and keep calm can do wonders!