Most of us have experienced the painful pangs of a broken heart or 'love sickness'. For many, it is one the most agonising experiences a person can go through, yet it is felt slightly differently by us all. It is true that nothing heals a broken heart better than the passing of time. That being said, Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a unique insight which can help you put yourself back together in the short-term.
The five element theory deeply rooted within Traditional Chinese Medicine gives us some clues into treating matters of the heart. This theory pairs the organs of the body with emotional states. Whilst the heart is seen as the organ that is tied to our 'spirit', many other organs are also tied to common emotions that may be experienced following a break up.
Fire Element – Heart and Small Intestine: including the pericardium (sac of tissues surrounding the heart) as the protector of the heart is emotionally characterised by feeling anxious or a lack of joy. Physical symptoms may include insomnia, palpitations or inappropriate behaviour.
Wood Element – Liver and Gallbladder: for feelings of anger, feeling stuck, resentment, irritation, frustration, depression and mood swings. Physical symptoms may include neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, nausea and digestive disorders that have a direct correlation to your emotional state.
Earth Element – Spleen and Stomach: for feelings of worry, obsessive thoughts and inability to concentrate. Physical symptoms may include lack of appetite, low energy, digestive disorders and sweet cravings.
Metal Element – Lungs and Large Intestine: when grief and sadness are the principal feelings surrounding the break-up. Physical symptoms may include low energy, respiratory disorders, concave chest posture, weak voice and skin problems.
Water Element – Kidneys and Bladder: when fear is a primary emotion. Physical symptoms may include poor memory, urinary problems, reproductive system disorders and lower back ache.
So what can you do to help mend your broken heart?
The beauty of rose – Traditional Chinese Medicine values the rose bud for alleviating emotional stagnation (particularly frustration and resentment) and depression. The aroma of rose bud tea is particularly uplifting. Also make use of rose water in cooking or spritzed on the skin.
Work that body – There's no doubt about it – exercise is a mood booster. Different forms of exercise have different effects on our body. Yoga is excellent for building our energy and improving flexibility of both mind and body. Tai chi is an excellent way to build energy and strength when we are worn out. But if you are feeling the full force of pent up anger or frustration get into some cardio and sweat it out with some running, martial arts, touch football or dance.
That's what friends are for – Surround yourself with your support network of friends and family. Express what you are feeling rather than bottling it up. Allow your friends and family to help you laugh. Joy is the emotion attached to the heart. If your friends and family mean well but have shortcomings in the good advice department you may prefer to make use of a health professional to discuss your break up with.
Sunshine makes me happy – Sunshine is one source of our Yang uplifting energy. It helps to drag us off the couch away from re-runs of Friends and bowls of chocolate ice-cream. Lack of sunlight over a period of time can cause the mood disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Use the sunlight to your advantage by soaking up a little each day and light your internal fires again.
Help takes many forms – When the above is not enough, book in for a facial or massage for some pampering. A visit to the acupuncturist can assist with emotional and physical pain associated with the break up. Likewise, a herbalist can prescribe a mood booster for you based on your unique symptoms. Talking to a professional counsellor or psychologist may help you gain clarity of mind and renew your energies to help you face your new path with enthusiasm.
If you are experiencing a personal crisis and need to speak to someone immediately call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
About Sarah George
Sarah George is a respected acupuncturist and massage therapist passionate about inspiring positive health transformation through applying the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies within the context of modern living. Sarah practices from the HealthWise Clinic in the Brisbane CBD and lectures at Endeavour College of Natural Health.