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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Emotional Baggage? Time to Start Unpacking.

Photo: Belight/

by Laurie R. Mallis, M.D.

To say that the last year has been tough is quite an understatement. The fact that we have all been in it together may help slightly, but in the larger picture each of us is still left to deal with the effects.

It’s well known that emotional issues, both current and past, have a damaging effect on overall health and well-being. Any negative emotions—stress, anxiety, depression, anger, fear—cause physiological changes that lead to a weaker immune system, increased inflammation and elevated levels of pain. Finally, western medicine is publicly acknowledging this connection and how it adversely affects physical health, even increasing the risk for certain types of cancer and chronic diseases.

There are many techniques that can help destress the body. One size does not fit all, so it’s important to find the technique that works for you. It’s also important that you enjoy it, or you won’t commit to doing it on a regular basis.

Practice deep breathing. This is one of the most effective ways to quickly ground your energy and calm yourself. If possible, remove yourself from the stressful situation and find a quiet place to sit with both feet planted on the floor, hands resting on top of your thighs. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose and then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Focus on your breath and nothing else. Repeat this cycle 10 times. This will decrease your cortisol level, slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.

Try an adult coloring book. This is a great way to reconnect the body, mind and spirit. Do not use a coloring app; this needs to be done the old-fashioned way, using colored pencils or pens and paper. Concentrating on the coloring process activates different areas in the brain that help you relax and recharge.

Take a short walk. When you start feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to break the cycle and walk away. If you’re at home, walk around the house, either inside or outside. If you’re in the office, take a bathroom break or find a quiet place to recharge for a few minutes. This will help your body “reboot” and relax.

Reconnect with nature. The benefits of being outdoors are enormous, and it doesn’t require a large amount of time. Being more observant about your surroundings can do a lot to increase the endorphins in your body. If going outside is an issue, consider bringing nature inside by growing some houseplants. Surrounding yourself with beautiful green plants will improve your indoor air quality as well as your mood.

Take a mental vacation. Try a guided imagery meditation that allows you to travel to the beach, lake, mountains or wherever you prefer to go to recharge.

Any of the above techniques can be done in a small amount of time, and if they’re done on a regular basis, the benefits can be remarkable. If you still can’t get adequate relief, consider deeper, longer-lasting qi energy healing treatments—like acupuncture, Reiki and Ondamed Biofeedback—that work on the root cause of an underlying problem.

Laurie R. Mallis, M.D., LAc is the owner of SEARCHLIGHT MEDICAL, 2424 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY. For more  information, call 845.592.4310 or visit