Balancing Shen

In today’s society, we hear mental health conditions including anxiety and depression discussed a lot, with modern day stresses and overwhelming situations often to blame.  However, despite both being recognised as a mental illness or condition, in Chinese Medicine, they are both considered symptoms of a greater issue at play – a disturbance of ‘Shen’ – the heart spirit.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, Shen is meant to flow around the body freely during the day and rest in the liver at night. When it can’t do this, a variety of mental health conditions arise, including anxiety and depression… let me explain.


Anxiety is regarded as a symptom of fear or overthinking.  In clinic, and in life, I have seen people affected by many different types of anxiety – with each individual, and their daily lives, impacted in various ways. When anxiety is caused by overthinking for example, it can result in issues getting to sleep because the mind is overactive. Fear-driven anxiety, on the other hand, can cause people to have issues when it comes to staying asleep, due to their hypervigilant state.

Anxiety often arises because of concerns we have about what other people think. And as a result of this thought, many of us change our behaviour accordingly, which disconnects us with who we are and what we believe in.  Anxiety is our body’s way of telling us that it’s not happy with how things are playing out, and that it wants to change something.


I also work with clients suffering from depression, and in Chinese medicine, depression is considered to be qi stagnation of the liver. ‘Qi’, which translates to ‘vital energy’, can become stuck in the liver channel. And, as a result, people can feel stuck or stagnant. Simply put, when qi is stuck, so are we. It can’t move forward and nor can we. When the energy is stuck in the liver channel, feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and struggle with acceptance and judgement, build up and a perception that life is a struggle can easily form.


So how do we fix this? Both anxiety and depression respond well to magnesium supplementation, as well as therapy.  In fact, a recent study has shown that magnesium is as effective as some antidepressants in managing depression. Magnesium is a precursor to the production of certain hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin in the body, which are both concerned with the maintenance of mental health.  So, magnesium is definitely worth considering, however if you are already on medication and being treated for anxiety and or depression, do not stop your treatment without consulting your prescribing doctor.


My job is to find out what is causing your Shen disturbance and then suggest ways to restore balance. The root cause of any disturbance is unique to everyone, so it requires deep insight into the signs and symptoms that clients experience to form a whole picture about what’s going on. The more complex the symptoms and mental health of a client, the more out of balance your Shen, and therefore body and mind, are.


So why kinesiology, integrative therapy and Chinese Medicine? Chinese Medicine seeks to simplify what western medicine often complicates. And while it’s important to continue with any medical advice and therapy you are already undertaking, kinesiology, integrative therapy Chinese Medicine – a true mind-body approach, can work alongside other therapies to help speed up the recovery process.


If you’re looking for a way to start feeling better, anxiety responds well to meditation and just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference, however consistency is key if you want to get the best benefits. There are some great apps to assist you in maintaining your meditation goals, such as Smiling Mind, Headspace, Relax Melodies and Insight Timer.

Depression, on the other hand, responds well to movement. So, getting out in the sun and going for a walk each day will help boost your Vitamin D, which is scientifically proven to improve depression. Movement gets the liver qi moving as well!

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other form of mental illness, these can be addressed through kinesiology, Chinese Medicine and other services I provide, which will not only help you feel better, but also understand what your body is trying to tell you.  Click here to book


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