HEY OVERTHINKER! GET RID OF YOUR RACING THOUGHTS WITH EASTERN MEDICINE
Natural Remedies to Restore Your Mind’s Stillness
Do you ever lie in bed for hours with your thoughts racing like they’re trying to win a NASCAR cup? Or maybe you play out conversations in your head thinking about what you would or could say?
Let’s face it, overthinking is pretty common. And it’s really hard to deal with! In Western medicine, we give names like “anxiety” and “insomnia” to problems related to racing thoughts and overthinking. But being told that you have insomnia or anxiety doesn’t do much to actually help you with your problem.
Luckily for you, eastern medicine approaches things a little differently. Instead of naming the results of your overthinking, Eastern medicine looks at the root problem–your racing thoughts and overactive mind. So if you’re an overthinker and want to ditch that habit in 2021, here’s everything you need to know about overthinking and Eastern medicine.
Overthinking and TCM
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of overthinking and TCM, we should go over some basics about how Traditional Chinese Medicine thinks about disorders.
There are a few things that cause disorders. Externally, 6 pathogens can disrupt our bodily balance that keeps us healthy. They are:
- Summer Heat
But our own emotions can unbalance us too! In TCM, there are 7 emotions:
- Joy (manic joy)
So while things like outside dampness or wind can make us sick, our own emotions can wreak just as much havoc on our health and happiness. That’s why regulating and dealing with your emotions in a healthy way is a very important part of TCM. The mind and the body are totally interconnected, so you have to make sure both are in great shape!
When you overthink too much, the Spleen and the Stomach systems tend to suffer. Here’s everything you need to know about overthinking and your body.
First, it’s important to note that Chinese medicine doesn’t think of the Spleen in the same way that western doctors do. When you hear about organs like the Spleen, Stomach, or Heart in TCM, it’s actually referring to the whole system of organs and functions that do certain things in your body, especially pancreatic function. So when we say Spleen, we don’t just mean the literal organ that makes white blood cells and supports your immune system. Together, the Spleen and Stomach make up the digestive system in TCM, which is why we’ll chat about the Stomach a little later on.
In TCM, overthinking is directly connected to the Spleen. That’s because your Spleen doesn’t just filter blood cells. It’s also supposed to filter your thoughts, getting rid of the unnecessary ones and keeping to good ones. When your Spleen is in great shape, you won’t hold on to negative thoughts that race around your mind.
But when your Spleen is in rough shape, overthinking starts to take over. All of a sudden, you don’t control your thoughts, they control you! The Spleen can’t digest your thoughts as well, so some stick around and become stagnant. You can’t move on from them, and they just keep running around in your head.
And when an external pathogen like dampness enters the spleen, things get ever worse. Thoughts take on the dampness and become heavy and soggy. Your brain might feel muddy and like it’s in slow motion. Overthinking isn’t just a mental issue. When your Spleen can’t filter your thoughts, you’ll notice physical symptoms too, like losing your appetite, always being tired, gassiness, and heartburn.
The Spleen and the Stomach are partners in crime when it comes to the digestive system in TCM, so over thinking can impact the stomach, too. Like the Spleen, the Stomach has a physical and mental role; it digests your food and your thoughts/emotions. Ideally, your Stomach should keep the healthy and nutritious thoughts that are good for you, and get rid of everything else. But when you can’t stop overthinking, it might be a sign that your Stomach isn’t working well. In that case, you might notice physical symptoms like bloating after eating, indigestion, and heartburn.
How To Stop Overthinking Things with TCM
Ok, so now that we know what overthinking looks like in TCM, let’s figure out how to get rid of it!
Since the Spleen and Stomach are the organs/systems most affected by overthinking, treatment usually targets those two areas. When it comes to giving your Spleen and Stomach a little extra TLC, here are some tips and tricks.
Food = Medicine
First, you want to counteract dampness with warm and dry foods. Instead of opting for raw or lightly-cooked food, fully cook your meals by sauteing, baking, and roasting. Drinking cold drinks or eating cold food can hurt your Stomach even more, so avoid that. Instead, incorporate seeds, nuts, dairy, sea-food, and meat into your meal plan. And don’t forget these warming foods:
- Green Onions
- Brown sugar
It’s also important to try and move a little more. Digestion is all about movement, so when your body is sluggish and lazy, your Spleen and Stomach don’t work as well. That’s why it’s important to find a type of physical exercise that you really like and makes you feel good. Whether that’s running, kickboxing, or yoga, all that movement should help kickstart your Spleen and Stomach. And if for some reason you can’t work out, breathing exercises are great to incorporate more movement into your life.
Ok, this might seem a little contradictory to the last piece of advice. But here, we’re talking about giving your Stomach enough time to rest. Some good TCM rules to follow are:
- Don’t eat dinner any later than 7 pm. You need to give your body time to digest that meal before you hit the hay. Otherwise, your Stomach will be working overtime while the rest of your body is resting and recharging.
- When you’re eating, avoid the temptation to multitask. That means put down the phone, shut off the TV, and ditch the podcast. Instead, just focus on the food you’re eating. Chew every bit and savor the flavor. This relaxes your body and mind while making digestion a little easier on your Spleen and Stomach.
When you are more mindful about your food and how/when you eat, your Spleen and Stomach will definitely thank you.
If you’re ready to leave overthinking behind in 2020, now’s the time to start showing your Spleen and Stomach a little more TLC. So try these tips and tricks and see just how strong the TCM mind-body connection is!