Detox from Physical & Emotional StressDetox from Physical & Emotional Stress

By Angela Soeon Park, L.Ac

Wellbeing in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is viewed as keeping the body's mental, emotional and physical components in balance in order to engender a state of peace, calm and happiness, and freedom from discomfort, pain, or illness. From a western medicinal perspective, a healthy body regulates its metabolism and hormones by releasing the correct amounts of cortisol, adrenaline, and endorphins to manage physical and emotional stress. When excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline are released because of the pandemic, we have seen an increasing number of people in our clinic needing help with mental, emotional, and physical symptoms like irritability, anger, anxiety, depression, sadness, lack of motivation, insomnia, fatigue, digestive problems, hypertension, unintentional weight change, bodily pain and even serious medical issues like autoimmune conditions, cancer, and rare diseases.

In TCM, emotions are seen as the manifestations of energy. Mental and emotional imbalance and dysfunction lead to congestion of energy and toxins within the body. Engaging in behaviors and activities that eliminate emotions that directly interfere with optimal mental health are tied to physical health. In TCM theory the body and mind are interrelated; when one suffers, the other suffers as well, and that is why it is important to detoxify from physical and emotional stress at the same time.

These are three ways to detoxify from stress at home. Although there are differences between physical and emotional detoxification, practices like deep breathing and moving the body are common to both.

Abdominal deep breathing is the simplest and most effective way to soothe the nervous system naturally. Inhale, then take a slow long exhale which calms the fight-or-flight response and reduces cortisol levels that are spiked up in response to strong emotions like fear, anger, or anxiety.

Meditation can help clear a racing mind, lower heart rate, reduce negative emotions and calm the mind. Setting aside a few minutes a day to focus on deep breathing and clearing the mind can help dispel anxiety. If sitting quietly to meditate is too difficult, active forms of meditation like yoga, qigong, and tai chi will help.

Gentle exercises such as walking, biking, and jogging get blood and qi energy flowing to all parts of the body which nourishes the organs and tissues so that the body's natural detoxification function is optimally activated. Avoid vigorous or competitive exercise however because it stimulates adrenaline secretion which puts stress on the body and depletes qi.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, lymphatic drainage bodywork, and far-infrared sauna can give you maximum benefits in detoxifying from stress and anxiety.

First of all, what is a serving? It depends on the food and the preparation method, but a good rule of thumb is that one serving is what you can fit into a single cupped hand. Here are some tips to add more produce servings into your day:

Acupuncture restores the balance in the body's metabolism and hormonal systems. Research has proven that acupuncture releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters that soothe anxiety and strengthen or tonify the body. Therefore, acupuncture helps us feel physically stronger and emotionally calm so we can better cope with stress even though we may not be able to change our environment or situation.

Chinese herbal medicine balances the body's internal organs and physiological functions by tonifying deficient areas and clearing conditions of excess. Special attention is usually directed toward clearing Liver qi stagnation. The liver, whose main function is to detoxify the body and maintain the smooth flow of qi throughout the body, is predominantly associated with stress. Negative emotions like anger and sadness can directly affect the liver, causing stagnation of Liver qi energy, which is often the underlying factor for stress as well as for depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from stress, then you might even experience a dull ache under your right ribcage because your Liver qi has been affected.

Lymphatic drainage bodywork unblocks stagnation in the natural lymphatic detoxification pathways. Relaxing far-infrared sauna treatments leach toxins out of the body through perspiration.

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