Managing a Tendency to Worry

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment.

The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: 

Lately, I’ve found myself worrying more than usual. Of course, these aren’t normal times, yet I think I’ve done pretty well during the pandemic. But as winter approaches, I’ve started worrying more. Will we be able to have the traditional holiday celebrations? How will we connect with people if socializing outside isn’t an option? Will the people I care about stay well? And will this ever end? Is there anything that can help me stop worrying so much? 

Answer: When you catch yourself worrying, try the following: Take a deep breath, then on a slow and steady exhale, make the sound “ommmm” very softly. You may need to do this a few times in a row, but it will help. 

Why: This is a difficult time for everyone. In so many ways, “normal” life just isn’t normal anymore. Being asked to manage this level of change will absolutely throw our energies out of balanced. 

Within the Five Elements model, the tendency to worry sits in the Earth element. Earth energy embraces family, close friends, home, food, and special traditions, among other things. We all have Earth energy in our personality mix, and the changes the pandemic has created to life as we know it have certainly affected the balance of these energies.

When Earth energy is out of balance, it is easier to than usual to question everything. This often includes issues over which we have very little control. When there are no easy answers to our questions, out of balance Earth energy will tend to keep asking anyway, and this can lead to to what we call worrying. This is especially true when the stakes are high and the answers remain vague. 

Staying safe and holiday gatherings are both extremely important to Earth energy. At the present time, there doesn’t appear to be an absolutely safe way to approach the holidays in a “normal” fashion, but because both of these are really important, our Earth energy will keep thinking about it. Prolonged thinking about anything important without a suitable course of action can upset the balance of our Earth energy and rather easily become worry.

So, whether we are worried about the pandemic, the holidays, or something else entirely, balancing our Earth energy will help mitigate the worry. And to do that, try the simple exercise mentioned above.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

Five Element Fixes: Feeling Antisocial

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment.

The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: During the pandemic, many of my friends are socializing day and night on Zoom, and sometimes even in person, but I just don’t feel like it, even though I know it would be good for me. How can I convince myself to be more social?

Answer:  When you aren’t feeling like it, but want to be social, rub lavender or rosemary essential oil behind your ears.

Why: This is a difficult time for everyone. In so many ways, “normal” life just isn’t normal anymore. Being asked to manage this level of change will absolutely throw our energies out of balanced. 

The energy that governs the desire to connect with people is found in the Fire element. Perfectly balanced Fire energy will always want to engage with other people, ideally in a fun and outgoing way. Too little Fire energy will lessen this desire to engage.

But the best fix isn’t necessarily to build Fire energy. That’s because too much Fire energy creates panic, and during a pandemic, panic around contagion will also cause people to avoid social situations.

The ideal fix for socialization issues is to balance the Fire energy in our personalities, and the scent of both lavender and rosemary essential oils does just that. Wearing either oil on your skin is an easy to way to experience this fix. But you can also put the oil in a room diffuser or place some on a tissue and inhale it throughout the day. 

And of course, it goes without saying that if you do not feel safe socializing in person, please do not. But with a little help from lavender or rosemary essential oil, you might find that you actually enjoy socializing online or in other safe ways.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

He Cheated, But I Want Our Marriage to Work

Dear Vicki: Cal and I met when we were in law school. He was smart, funny, and very outgoing. I was more serious but somehow, we clicked. We married right out of law school and life was fast-paced and passionate. We worked hard, but I could always count on Cal’s teasing and humor to keep us connected. He went into trial law and I took the corporate route. But two years ago, right after our daughter was born, Cal won a high visibility, important case and things changed. He worked longer hours, played harder, and has been around less and less. I’ve left my firm and am trying to make a good home for the three of us, but he’s hardly ever here, which isn’t the right way to run a marriage. And when he is home, we fight and there’s no passion left. I finally confronted him last month and he admitted that there’s someone else who, as he puts it, is more fun than I am. I still love him and want Alma to have a full-time father. Can you help? Signed: Jilted in Jersey

Dear Jilted: This is a complicated situation, as you no doubt know. I do think there are actions you can take that will make a difference, but first, it’s important for you to understand the dynamics in your marriage. This will help you build on your relationship’s inherent strengths and hopefully avoid some of the more likely pitfalls.

The way you describe Cal in law school, it sounds like he was manifesting the primary elemental personality of a Fire.  Fire people are outgoing, funny, and love living life large. They also love connecting with new people, even if just for a short time. But Fire people lack the structure usually required to succeed in law school, so Cal has to have a strong secondary elemental personality that helps him out in the structure department. The most structured of the elemental personalities are Wood or Metal, and given his choice of trial law, I suspect his secondary personality is Wood. Wood people like being visible.   

That means getting ahead, defending the underdog, and winning (and winning and winning) will all matter greatly to him. And now that he’s become very successful, it will matter even more. So while he may be a primary Fire personality, it’s likely that he’s stepped more into the Wood part of his personality these days. And as you’ve seen, the Fire/Wood personality combination can make for an excellent, and usually extremely successful, trail attorney.

Continue reading

Five Element Fixes: Loss of Focus

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment.

The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: Life is so crazy, I feel scattered and can’t seem to focus or concentrate anymore. 

Answer: Drink three to five cups of green tea daily.

Why: Feeling scattered usually comes from too much energy in the Fire element and green tea is excellent at balancing excess Fire energy without overdoing it. Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine (2% to 4%) which affects thinking and alertness. Caffeine in general is also thought to stimulate the nervous system, heart, and muscles by increasing the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have shown it can also promote nerve cell function and improve mood, reaction time, and memory. 

Green tea also contains theanine, a compound that reduces stress-related hormones and neuron excitement in the brain. The combination of theanine and caffeine is said to have a synergizing effect that improves brain function and productivity.

Of course, it’s important to point out that too much caffeine can be agitating on its own. Green tea has about 35mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving. For comparison’s sake, coffee has an average of 95mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving. Different people have different reactions to caffeine, but for most people the amount of caffeine in 3-5 cups of green tea consumed over a day can be very beneficial for increasing the ability to focus, as well as overall health. 

And finally, because too much of a good thing can be bad, it’s important to note that green tea extracts have been reported to cause liver and kidney problems in rare cases. So, stick with pure organic brewed green tea as nature intended and enjoy several steaming (or iced) cups a day to help calm excess Fire energy and get your focus back.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

Five Element Fixes: Sadness

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment.

The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question:

How do I manage the sadness I feel given all that’s going on in the world? 

Answer: 

Using small circles, gently massage the spot on the inside crease of your wrist directly up from your thumb. This is acupressure point Lung 9 and is an important point for moving energy in the Lung meridian. Massage this area for several minutes, then repeat on the other side. You can do this multiple times daily to help when you are feeling sad. 

Why: 

In Chinese medicine, sadness and grief are carried by the Lung meridian which sits in the Metal element of the Five Elements model. Stagnant or low Lung energy can make grief hard to shake. Rubbing LU-9 gets Lung energy moving and helps to balance it. This makes it easier to move through difficult times and release sadness.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki