Why Are Anxiety Levels Increasing?
People are worrying too much right now, and anxiety is at an all-time high. Anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million people a year.
We are constantly consumed by technology which can make us feel anxious, like watching the news and social media. On these platforms, you’ve witnessed brutality and violence repeatedly, and you worry about your life and your loved ones.
When there is a virus or disease spreading, you worry about being physically isolated from one another. Quite possibly, right now, you are worried about adjusting to new working conditions. And you worry about the possibility of a different, unpredictable life.
Excessive worry can make you feel overwhelmed emotionally. You may feel paralyzed and panic attacks can be terrifying.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), emotion and physical health are connected. Your emotions are considered to be a cause of disease, especially when you have a prolonged experience of one emotion or suppression of emotions.
The dysfunction of an organ can also cause emotional symptoms. For example, if your liver is out of balance, then excessive anger can be a side effect. In TCM, each emotion has an association with an organ and an element.
In this post, we are going to talk about excessive worry as it relates to the spleen and the earth element.
What Does Excessive Worry Do To Your Body?
The spleen acts as a filter for blood. Old red blood cells are recycled in the spleen and white blood cells are stored there. The spleen also helps fight certain kinds of bacteria. So it’s a very important part of your body’s immune system.
The spleen also is responsible for transforming food into vital nutrients and it is responsible for transporting these nutrients to the rest of your body.
The spleen ensures proper digestive function. This is how it relates to the earth element. Mother earth is there to make sure you are getting the nourishment you need to live and thrive. The spleen plays a big part in taking food from nature, or from the earth, and transforms it into energy for the growth and support of life.
When you worry too much, you lose your appetite for food… and for life. Excessive worry and overthinking disrupt spleen function. Prolonged deficiency of the spleen can lead to tiredness, loss of appetite, poor digestion, mucus discharge, and all sorts of bleeding disorders.
When your spleen is low on energy, then this further weakens the immune system. A weakened spleen can also impair your capacity to think clearly, focus, and may make you even worry more.
What do you do? Well, the antidote to excessive worry is the practice of mindfulness.
We live in a time of endless distraction. We do multiple things and have multiple tasks at one time. For instance, we watch TV while we eat. We take in a lot of information through our devices. We don’t focus on the food we’re eating. We watch, read, and eat the news instead.
As you can see from this example alone, it’s quite easy to get in the habit of distracting yourself. This takes up too much of your time and leaves little room for anything else.
How To Stop Worrying?
Give your spleen some space to practice one thing… and that is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is done in silence.
Give yourself time to be in silence. Silence helps your mind to rest. Imagine sand stirred in a container of water. Then watch as the sand gradually settles to the bottom, leaving the water clear. If you just let the sand settle and rest for a while, this describes the practice of mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness, your mind’s agitation and stressful thoughts can gradually settle as well. Your mind generally becomes calmer, clearer, and more open.
When I do Tai Chi, I experience a sense of inner peace. My path to mindfulness is Tai Chi, but there are many different paths you can take. You can practice walking meditation/ You can do guided meditation. You can practice deep breathing. You can do a body scan, or you can just do some other positive action.
Just try to keep doing one thing at a time and you’ll have improved digestion and less worry as a result.
Let’s do a quick and easy internal exercise. This is a version of an exercise you might have done in the past from a previous blog. Follow along in the video:
1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
2. Place the palm of your left hand on the left lateral side of your body, so it lies just at the base of your rib cage.
3. Push your hand across the front of your chest and follow the line made by the lower ribs of your chest.
Rub up toward the sternum and then down toward the right lateral side of your chest.
Then, come right back down the other way.
4. Repeat the movement. Let’s do this several times so the hand rubbing keeps the energy flowing to the spleen, as well as to the pancreas and stomach.
Tai Chi: A Form of Mindfulness
Now to keep the energy flowing, you can also practice Tai Chi. The rhythmic pace of Tai Chi flowing helps slow down mental activity and calms your mind. When you are particularly restless and your thoughts are racing, it may be more practical to do Tai Chi than sitting meditation.
While your body’s in motion and your mind focuses on the specific activity, namely Tai Chi, then this helps the flood of worried thoughts to gradually slow down.
Let’s do Tai Chi movements in a sequence:
1. Raise your hands up, then come right back down. Energize the fingers and relax back down again.
2. From one side energize to ward-off left. Exhale, relax and energize to ward-off right.
3. Turn, roll back and press. Then come right back into your resting position.
One more time:
1. Energize the fingers up.
2. Exhale, then energize the fingers and relax back down.
3. Turn and energize to ward-off left.
4. Exhale, relax and ward-off right.
5. Turn, roll back, then energize to press.
6. Relax, exhale and settle back down into your feet.
What are some other things to consider when coping with persistent worry and anxiety? Stay tuned and follow me on YOUTUBE as we continue to explore how your emotions can be used to improve your health.