BEAT THE BAD MOOD
5 TCM Tips To Get Your Groove Back
We all have those days; energy is low, motivation is nowhere to be found, and you just feel eghh, especially when most of us have been quarantined in our homes for weeks now. Ever notice how on those days you eat things like fried-chicken, feel gross at the end of the day, and you’ve probably rubbed your yuckiness off on coworkers and family?
It can be easy to sink into those negative vibes, but doing so can actually perpetuate your mood. While we know all days can’t be good days, there are a few things we can do to process those feelings and move forward in healthy ways.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s believed that there are seven primary emotions that govern the body. These emotions include; joy, anger, anxiety, pensiveness, grief, fear, and fright. Too much of any of these emotions, even the positive ones, experienced in excess or for a prolonged period can result in an internal imbalance that can lead to illness and disease. Luckily, TCM also points to many ways to maintain balance in the body. Here are five TCM-inspired methods for getting your groove back.
Make a Happy Playlist
Picture this, you’ve just had a bad day, maybe your coffee was totally wrong AND you spilled it on your shirt. As you sit in your car or on the train, feeling glum, what do you gravitate towards playing? If it’s Celine Dion, Enya, or Adele, we’re going to challenge you to hit the pause button and make a different choice. It’s a natural urge to make the soundtrack of your life match the current mood, but what if your playlist helped out bounce back instead?
Music has been scientifically proven to hold significant influence over our moods, attitudes, and outlooks. It’s frequently used in hospitals as a form of therapy to keep patients spirits up, and ease anxiety and depression before or after surgery. Plot out a playlist of songs that make you smile, tap your foot, or make you want to dance. Having a pre-set happy playlist on hand can make it easier to avoid those somber songs and get you feeling good faster.
Reset with this Breathing Exercise
Ignite your parasympathetic nervous system with this simple, yet effective breathing technique. This system is designed to help regulate many of the natural responses triggered by our body’s fight-or-flight reactions. It helps us calm down from stressful situations both mentally and physically, oversees digestion, sexual arousal, and slows the heart rate and blood pressure when they get too high. Essentially, the parasympathetic nervous system works to reset us and return balance to the internal systems.
This reset doesn’t happen unless it’s called upon. But rather than put yourself in a fight-or-flight situation you can simply practice a breathing exercise to wake up your parasympathetic nervous system. Have you ever noticed the way a dog pants? It’s a quick, yet steady pattern of inhales and exhales, often with the tongue out. Believe it or not, the dogs have the right idea!
Practicing the pant-like breathing pattern for about 90 seconds can actually wake up your parasympathetic nervous system, give you an energy boost, and sense of clarity. Be sure that your breath is coming from deep in your belly. You should feel the pressure right in the center of your stomach, underneath your belly button. If you’re feeling the breath in your ribcage or upper chest, you’re not going deep enough. Oh, and feel free to stick your tongue out too.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective to help you lift your spirits. Studies have shown that an increased focus on gratitude can provide a ton of benefits to both mental and physical health. Benefits studied include better sleep, lower stress levels, decreased risks of heart conditions, and lower levels of depression. To get the gratitude benefits for yourself, try keeping a gratitude journal.
Set aside a consistent time each day for your journal, such as first thing in the morning or right before bed. Take five to ten minutes to think about what you’re grateful for, it could be a big, intangible experience like the love and support of your best friend or something small and specific like your new sweater.
Then physically write them down using pen and paper to help it stick. If writing pages each time sounds like a drag, don’t worry. Even simply making a list of three to five things you’re thankful for can help. No explanation or detail needed. After all, this journal is for you, so design it to best suit your needs.
Make a Mood-Boosting Bowl
In TCM, food is considered nature’s medicine. Practitioners will often prescribe patients eat more of or avoid certain foods and provide various herbal mixtures to help regulate and rebalance the body. When it comes to boosting your mood, there are several foods and herbs that are commonly recommended in TCM. An easy way to get the benefits of many of these at once is to make your own smoothie bowl or oatmeal.
When making either the smoothie or oatmeal base, try substituting the water or milk you’d normally use with green tea. Then, try adding some of the following for extra boosts of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants:
Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet is a foundational element of healthy living in Chinese medicine. The nutrients we take in go straight to nourish our blood, qi, and organ systems, all of which can have an impact on our moods. Studies have shown that when you eat good, you feel good!
Try Hip Hop Yoga
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of yoga already. It’s great for the body, mind, and spirit. But have you ever tried hip hop yoga? When you’re looking to get your groove back, you gotta kick things up a notch. Often when we’re feeling sad it can be quite difficult to block out negative thoughts, particularly when sitting quietly in a meditation or traditional yoga class. And hearing your yoga teacher tell you to just “let it go” can seem like the hardest thing in the world.
Hip hop yoga can distract the brain and boost your mood while you also get the benefits of a great yoga practice. Many yoga studios offer special sessions centered around a modern, upbeat musical style. You can find classes featuring styles ranging from hip hop, to 80s throwbacks, to reggae, and more. If you’d rather practice at home, you can pick your own jams and get moving.
At the end of the day, each person’s path to finding a happy place looks a little different. Try out a different combination of positive activities to figure out what the perfect formula looks like for you. If you feel like you need additional assistance, be sure to reach out to your TCM practitioner, medical doctor, or mental health specialist.