While it is natural to have anxiety from time to time, it is unnatural when emotions are exaggerated and you are experiencing anxiety frequently. Common symptoms of anxiety are worry, sweating, trembling, muscle tension, insomnia and an inability to concentrate. It is constant thinking and ruminating about the “what ifs”.
Physiologically, generalized anxiety is due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system which is our fight or flight system. This system is crucial for survival and is needed to quickly react to danger. In generalized anxiety, the sympathetic nervous system is always activated. Therefore, a person is always worried about events that might happen.
What Is Anxiety In Chinese Medicine & How It Is Treated
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, generalized anxiety involves a disharmony in certain organs in the body that throw our mental system out of whack. There is usually not one single organ that is disrupted but can be a complex array of different organs that cause pathology resulting in anxiety symptoms. The organs that are involved with anxiety in Chinese Medicine are the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys.
The shen or “spirit” resides in the heart. When rooted and stable a person is able to openly express him or herself and feel calm. When the shen is unstable, a person feels “anxious” and unsettled. They may have insomnia as well as an unfocused mind.
The liver in TCM ensures a smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body. The liver qi gives force to your life and expresses your “vision” or goals in your life. Stress and an inability to achieve what we would like can stagnate the liver qi where frustration and anger can result. Tension can appear that may manifest as irritability, headaches, as well as jaw and neck tension.
The spleen is a major organ for digestion in Chinese medicine, which enables energy output as well as nourishment to the body. Over thinking depletes the spleen energy. When this is deplete, a person can experience low energy or digestive system issues.
The lungs in Chinese Medicine help to enable energy nourishment as well as qi flow. The emotion that is connected to the lungs is grief. Therefore, an imbalance in the lung organ can result in low energy, frequent crying as well as spontaneous sweating or cough.The last organ the may be involved with anxiety disorders is the kidney. The kidneys encompass our essence. It is responsible for our will power. When this is imbalanced, fear can manifest.
Treatment in Chinese Medicine aims at harmonizing the internal organ systems where homeostasis is achieved and symptoms begin to disappear. For thousands of years herbal medicinals have been used to treat anxiety symptoms by balancing the organ systems. Anxiety can present with different diagnoses, so it is important to understand the root organs that are out of balance and begin to rebalance them where symptoms begin to dissipate.
Tips For People Who Suffer From Generalized Anxiety:
- Breathe: If you suffer from anxiety, one of the most important things to do is breathe. Breathing allows your sympathetic nervous system to slow down as well as gets oxygen and blood flow throughout your body which helps to relax tense muscles and tendons.
- Prioritize: You can get overwhelmed by life so start prioritizing activities by order of importance. This helps to compartmentalize events and activities so you are not so overwhelmed.
- Yoga: Yoga is a great form of exercise if you suffer from anxiety. It helps to use the breath to relax the body and calm the mind.
- Give Yourself Space: Us New Yorkers rarely give ourselves space to just be so I want to give you some good advice in allowing yourself to relax and not feel you have to do everything right now. The best decisions are made when we have time to think about things so make sure you fit in “you” time every day in doing something you love.