Health and Wellbeing | Can how you feel affect your health?



I am what some would call, a geek. I don’t have Einstein hair, and my terrible myopia doesn’t seem to have come with an extraordinary dose of genius (so I’m not that kind of geek) but I do like cool non-cool things. Physics and chemistry were my favourite subjects in school and I’m still intrigued with giving myself self-induced furrows reading about the universe. “Bobby Fischer Goes to War” is one of my all time favourite charity shop purchases. I noticed Michael Bublé much later than everyone else, and then only because he had a great way of messing up songs, not because he has an amazing voice. I devoured my school library’s collection of Kurt Vonnegut novels and then proceeded to buy them over and over again, as I moved from country to country, leaving my books behind at each location.


But I don’t do sci-fi movies or TV shows. Star Trek? Nope. Star Wars? Nyet. Aliens? Nein. (Although I did enjoy Spaceballs with John Candy and Terminator 2, despite the headaches I get with Hollywood’s rubber rules of time travel.)


However for the past few weeks I have been watching Dr Who. I blame my boyfriend, who is also a geek (I have to insist here that our flat isn’t Geekopolis so don’t start planning any pilgrimages our way). Being British, he can’t help but be a fan of Dr Who but I have free will and so managed to live in a parallel universe where there was no Doctor. Last year the Boyfriend tried to introduce me to it with an episode about a crack in the wall being a crack in the universe, it was fun but no Homes Under the Hammer (told you I was a geek).


Then last month the Boyfriend played another episode in my presence and it was quite good. It was ridiculously scary featuring the Silence, creatures who have the eerie ability to make you forget about them the second you turn away. Like any kind of “brain-wiping”, too much of it and your mind goes a bit loopy.


I can imagine nothing scarier than being stalked by something I can’t remember once they are out of my sight. How can I defend against a non-memory?


Is fear damaging?


Much has been said about this series of Dr Who being the scariest ever and whether this was appropriate for children. The consensus is that children and adults alike enjoy being frightened out of their skin – why else would they love haunted houses and rollercoasters?


Extreme fear obviously has survival value, it is sudden and temporary and the adrenaline response calls for action. However, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM, of which acupuncture is a branch) fear, or any prolonged emotion, is considered to be damaging.


For some people, the continual stress of modern living may result in a state of fearful anxiety that is less extreme but chronic. What does this mean? Well the person may have fear of being in enclosed spaces, fear of being alone or fear of being unloved. Chronic fear could then lead to panic or anxiety.


Using TCM syndrome differentiation, emotions tend to affect mostly the:

  • Heart: symptoms include palpitation, insomnia, and restlessness.
  • Liver: symptoms include irritability, distending pain in the hypochondriac region, belching, and irregular menstruation.
  • Spleen: symptoms include poor appetite, distending pain in the abdomen, and loose stools.


The theory of yin and yang that is the basis of TCM is often incorrectly simplified to represent a New Age abstraction. At its core is the fact that if the scales are balanced, our bodies will function properly. It’s not enough to only concentrate on one aspect of our lives even if we are passionate about it. TCM’s take on emotions merely highlights the fact we need to take care of our bodies by having good nutrition and exercise, as well as taking care of our mental state of mind by cultivating good supportive relationships.


What do you think? Are our emotions a symptom or the cause for our state of wellbeing?


Photo credit: Peter Dutton via flickr

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