The last two years have left none of us unscathed. We’ve experienced stress, anxiety and even outright fear on a daily basis. In some cases, we’ve lost loved ones in cruel, uncontrollable circumstances. One way or another, we’ve all been ‘touched’ by Covid 19, whether we actually became ill or not.
Prolonged fear is known to deplete the immune system, as is isolation, mask-wearing and a lack of fresh air and sunshine. These same constraints on personal freedom have an equally negative effect on emotional wellbeing. It comes as no surprise, then, that there is so much discussion of mental health at the moment.
What can be done to repair all the damage?
First, it’s worth rethinking the term ‘mental health’ – one of those modern medical names like Irritable Bowel Syndrome – far too woolly to be specific or meaningful.
Wasn’t ‘Mental’ how we referred to people when they acted without regard for themselves or others? Mental also implies that negative thoughts and feelings relate only to the mind, as though the mind is separate from the whole human being. The mere use of the term mental health implies that there’s a bar or level of cognitive wellness that can be fallen short of. It’s a disempowering and reductionist label that needs updating.
In reality, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health all form part of the same thing: health. These aspects of our wellbeing, and many others, will all be challenged during this wild ride called life. Talking about mental health the way we do, however, implies that to be laid low by experiences or our reactions to them, is a problem. But health, mental or otherwise, isn’t a problem per se. Health is an ever-changing balancing act with ups and downs that will, just like these two years of global pandemic, leave no one untouched. Feeling bad, in any way, is a natural part of life whether we like it or not.
People of all kinds come to me with many issues that are crammed under the ugly umbrella of mental health. Whilst there can be similarities between these people, no two of them are the same – ever – and this seems to be another area in which modern medicine falls short. Each human being is unique. They have different upbringings, different genetics, different life experiences and situations, and the way they look out at the world – their very perceptions – cannot be duplicated. They cannot, therefore, all be treated in the same way.
Every individual is a one-off. Every problem they go through or illness they suffer, therefore, is equally original. When someone is suffering emotionally and they visit me for help with acupuncture, they may begin the conversation by referring to their mental health. Before long, though, we will be talking about actual events and situations that have caused sadness, grief, fear, disappointment, regret, anxiety, panic, depression and many other uncomfortable feelings.
In short, mental health is almost never just about the mind. It arises in an individual’s day to day experience, from their completely inimitable perspective.
Acupuncture, when best employed, becomes a support structure that is perfectly tuned to each client. It treats the underlying causes of ill health – mental or otherwise – and restores the balance that is lost when life throws us a curveball. In combination with the tools and practices I share, anyone can reclaim their equilibrium, rediscover their joy and be empowered to continue their life adventure with renewed energy.
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