Acupuncture and Male Emotional Health
Emotional highs and lows are a normal part of life. Afterall, there are good days and bad days.
Its when these emotions become extreme, prolonged, or when we try to suppress them that we find ourselves in a state of dis-ease.
We are healthy when we possess our feelings and ill when feelings possess us.
In Chinese Medicine, our physical health and emotional life are intricatly intertwined, as each organ system is energetically associated with and can be harmed by the five main emotions - joy, worry, grief, fear, and anger.
Ideally, our emotions should be in balance. Its when they start to teeter towards the extremes that physical symptoms appear. The Lungs, for example, are associated with grief and its not uncommon for someone who has been in a extended period of grief to start experiencing asthma and other respiratory issues. Even joy, which is associated with the Heart, can manifest in negative ways - As I am sure we’ve all experienced the morning after a night of partying.
But what happens when we don’t express our emotions?
Its deeply understood in the acupuncture world, that where there is stagnation there is pain. Stagnation can be caused by injury or physical trauma, lack of exercise, poor diet, and - you guessed it - unexpressed emotions.
Most men have difficulty in expressing their emotions when compared to their female counterparts. We tend to exert greater control over the expression of emotions - sharing less frequently - and often spend more time ruminating over negative emotions.
From an early age, boys aren’t exposed to as much emotionaly-oriented conversations as young girls, and are often seen as weak if they try to verbally express or show their emotional state. As boys become men, and emotions become unexplored or suppressed, the potential for physical health problems become greater.
Suppression = Stagnation
In Chinese Medicine, all emotions originate from the Heart, but the Liver also has a role in the creation and regulation of emotions - as the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body.
If the Liver Qi is running smoothly, emotions will be equally as smooth and balanced. If there is a Liver disharmony, you will experience moodiness, frustration, depression, irritability, and anger. The longer this viscious cycle goes on, the more you will start to see extreme emotional states like rage, bitterness, and violence.
Other symptoms like headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia may arise. Because the Liver channel runs through the torso, you may experience rib or hypochondriac pain. If the Liver Qi starts to invade other organ systems, you could see digestive issues like gas, bloating, nausea, and indigestion.
Men who bottle up their emotions are stagnating their Liver Qi and the longer these emotions go unresolved, the more stagnation will build up - and physical health issues will get worse. Lack of exercise, chronic stress, poor diet, and heavy alcohol use all stagnate Liver Qi.
What's a guy to do?
Here are four healthy ways that you can break up emotional stagnation:
Move Your Body
Go outside and get some fresh air - Healthy Lung Qi helps invigorate stuck Liver Qi.
Do some gentle stretching, yoga, or qi gong. Maintaining flexibility in the tendons and connective tissue, which are associated with the Liver, well help to relieve any stagnation (physical or emotional).
Talk About It
Find a licensed, qualified therapist that you can see on a regular basis to talk about your emotional life.
And just like acupuncturists, there are many different therapists out there. Find the one that is right for you.
Let It Go
Find a constructive outlet. Write, draw, create something!
Acupuncture is a great adjunct to therapy and pharmaceutical treatments.
Acupuncture can help smooth out the edges and support you along the process of addressing your emotional life.
Acupuncture is all about movement. It helps to regulate the flow of Qi in the body - especially the Liver.
Acupuncture is scientifically proven to reduce stress.
If your frustrated Liver is starting to attack your digestive system (gas, bloating, acid regurgitation, diarrhea) acupuncture can help to put in back in check.
Working through your emotional life can be challenging. Depending on what you’re experiencing, it may take a while to truly get to the root. Its important to know that you have options and that you are not alone in this process.