Managing Stress: A Five Elements Approach

Dear Vicki: Thanks to your blog, I’m beginning to understand the impact our energies have on our relationships. I’ve heard you say that one of the best things we can do for our relationships is to keep ourselves balanced, but it seems harder and harder to stay balanced these days. There’s so much going on in the world with all the natural disasters lately and even a growing threat of war. My personal life is much more intense, as well. I work in a daycare center and the children are more agitated, their parents are more stressed, and it feels like I can’t do enough to keep everyone happy. How can we keep ourselves and our relationships balanced when things are so stressed and crazy? Signed: Worried for Us All

Dear Worried: There does seem to be more stress in the world these days. We have had devastating hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, fires, and earthquakes affect every continent in the past few years. Political issues around the world have created their own kind of stress, as well. Add to this whatever is going on in our individual lives, and we have a recipe for imbalance in our energies. But we have choices in how we address stress, and the Five Elements model offers us informed options. That’s another beautiful aspect of the Five Elements model – it simplifies what can be a highly complex situation.

From a Five Elements perspective, the model says there are only two ways the elements can become imbalanced. They can move to a state of over energy (excess) or under energy (deficiency). And when that happens, the fix for the imbalance sits in the interactions of the elements with each other. This is simple and easy at a model level, but does get a bit more complicated when applied to the human personalities the elements represent. However, it’s still surprisingly easy to identify what’s out of balance when we’re stressed and take appropriate steps to relieve the stress and regain balance.

First, we need to recognize what each element looks like when it’s stressed enough to lose its balance. To do that, it’s important to remember that even though our primary element is the most likely place for us to exhibit stress (that’s one way we identify our primary: where do we go when we’re stressed?), we all have all five elements so can (and do) find ourselves stressed in any of them at various times. For example, you are most likely an Earth, but if the horrific fires in California have affected you or someone you know, your personal Fire element could move into a place of excess. People who are not primary Waters can find their Water element affected by flooding and/or drought. When hundreds or thousands of people are killed in an earthquake, the grief over the loss of life can impact our Metal energies. As a human family, we are all affected by what happens to each other and our planet.

The good news is that there are fairly simple ways to determine from our behavior when one of our elements is out of balance and equally simple ways to help it move back into balance. Please bear in mind that these are just meant as guidelines for determining where you or someone close to you is carrying stress and how to help. They are not meant as a substitute for professional support when needed.

Stressed Water Element: Deficient Water energy will often manifest as emptiness or hopelessness. If this happens, you want to build Water energy. A few easy approaches include spending time near water, surrounding yourself with the color blue, drinking ginseng tea, or wearing a lapis or aquamarine stone. Excess Water energy will often manifest as narcissism or intolerance. If this happens, you want to build Earth energy, the energy that helps control Water. A few easy approaches include spending time planning or working in a garden, surrounding yourself with the color yellow, drinking peppermint tea, or wearing a tigers eye or citrine stone.

Stressed Wood Element: Deficient Wood energy will often manifest as indecision or frustration. If this happens, you want to build Wood energy. A few easy approaches include spending quiet time near trees or green plants, surrounding yourself with the color green, drinking dandelion tea, or wearing a malachite or green aventurine stone. Excess Wood energy will often manifest as impatience or anger. If this happens, you want to build Metal energy, the energy that helps control Wood. A few easy approaches include meditation, surrounding yourself with the color white, drinking red clover tea, or wearing a hematite stone.

Stressed Fire Element: Deficient Fire energy will often manifest as being scattered or overwhelmed. If this happens, you want to build Fire energy. A few easy approaches include spending time around a fire or someplace warm, surrounding yourself with the color red, drinking motherwort tea, or wearing a garnet or ruby stone. Excess Fire energy will often manifest as anxiety or panic. If this happens, you want to build Water energy, the energy that helps control Fire. A few easy approaches include spending time near water, surrounding yourself with the color blue, drinking ginseng tea, or wearing a lapis or aquamarine stone.

 Stressed Earth Element: Deficient Earth energy will often manifest as being needy or clingy. If this happens, you want to build Earth energy. A few easy approaches include spending time planning or working in a garden, surrounding yourself with the color yellow, drinking peppermint tea, or wearing a tigers eye or citrine stone. Excess Earth energy will often manifest as meddling or excessive worrying. If this happens, you want to build Wood energy, the energy that helps control Earth. A few easy approaches include spending time near trees or green plants, surrounding yourself with the color green, drinking dandelion tea, or wearing a malachite or green aventurine stone.

Stressed Metal Element: Deficient Metal energy will often manifest as being critical or confused. If this happens, you want to build Metal energy. A few easy approaches include meditation, surrounding yourself with the color white, drinking red clover tea, or wearing a hematite stone. Excess Metal energy will often manifest as inflexibility or a need for control. If this happens, you want to build Fire energy, the energy that helps control Metal. A few easy approaches include spending time around a fire or someplace warm, surrounding yourself with the color red, drinking motherwort tea, or wearing a garnet or ruby stone.

I hope this helps answer your question regarding ways we can keep our relationships and ourselves balanced during trying times. While we may be unable to change many of the stressful events around us, we can take responsibility for our reactions to these events and take steps to stay balanced. This will make us happier, our relationships stronger, and our world a better place for everyone. Blessings to you!

blue pier

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