In the UK we have a bad habit of getting a bit down in the winter time. We don’t get a huge amount of sunshine at the best of times and with the longer and darker nights we get in winter time, it can feel like a challenging time of year. We need to be especially in tune with our emotions in the winter because it would be such a shame to miss out on the festive season by spending too much time inside your own head! But emotional ill-health can have worse consequences than just dampening your Christmas spirit.

The connection between emotions and physical health in Chinese medicine

In Chinese medicine there is a strong belief in the connection between the emotions we feel and our physical health. It is thought that emotions are connected to specific organs within the body and therefore your emotional wellbeing has a direct impact on the wellbeing of your body. Certain emotions are linked with specific organs and vice versa.

The intimate connection between our emotions and our organs could help us better understand the way we are feeling both physically and mentally. And a greater understanding of mind and body is something that I think everyone should strive for. 

How feelings of fear and sadness are connected to our physical health

Fear and sadness are seen as dominant emotions that we must regulate in order to preserve health. Impaired lung function is thought to be associated with feelings of unresolved grief. These emotional traumas can manifest themselves in the form of shallow breathing and breath holding. Sadness can lead to the dissipation of qi – being life force or ‘vital energy’ in Chinese medicine – and weakness in the lungs.

Feelings of fear are intimately linked with kidney and bladder health whilst worry affects your spleen, stomach, and pancreas. Kidneys are seen as the body’s battery in Traditional Chinese Medicine and as being important for growth, metabolism, regulation of body temperature and managing stress levels. It is even thought that kidney imbalance can cause irritating health implications such as ear-ringing and night sweats.

How feelings of joy and anger are connected our physical health

The last two dominant emotions that are discussed are Joy and Anger. Whilst these contrasting emotions manifest in different organs, both organs are involved in the flow of energy and blood throughout the body. So whilst it is a comforting notion to think that when we are joyful, according to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, this is spread around the body by the heart. The manifestation of anger within our liver can also affect our blood as it pumps around our body.

How to soften the blow to our physical & emotional health during the winter period

Winter snowman

Whether or not you agree with the perspectives on emotional and physical health in Chinese medicine, we could all benefit from bullet-proofing our emotional health during the winter time. As the days get shorter and the nights longer and colder you should be focused on staying warm and recuperating. Winter is believed to be one of the hardest times to start new things and set new goals, so don’t waste time beating yourself up about life. Your time would be much better spent re-charging for the spring.

Winter is a time to give yourself, your immune system, your metabolism, and muscle tissues time to settle down. It can be hard to admit that the best thing for your body is to let it rest and repair but you might need to take the time out to avoid getting burned out.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that Winter is a period of stillness, used to observe the world and it is also seen as a significant time for kidney health.  As we discussed earlier, poor kidney health can have various negative knock on effects to our physical and emotional wellbeing. And so it is important to protect kidneys throughout winter. To do this, eat well and keep your lower back warm and covered, keep your feet warm, and avoid overexertion in the evening.

Benefiting your physical and emotional wellbeing by listening to your body and mind this winter

The main thing I want you to take away from this article, regardless of your confidence in traditional Chinese medicinal practices, is that it’s good to listen to your body if you feel tired and want to sleep. We get so used to ignoring signals that our body is sending us and this can lead us down a path of repeated burnouts. However, by listening to our bodies, we can be healthier and avoid fatigue. Things don’t have to be hectic all year round.

If you want to get rid of nagging pain that affects you emotionally, get in touch today and start the journey to getting your smile back.