Fear and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Dear Readers: Lately, many of you have inquired if the Five Elements can help manage the fear we’re all feeling regarding the global coronavirus pandemic. We are afraid that someone close to us will get Covid-19, or that we will get it. We’re afraid that we will lose our jobs, or that we won’t be able to make ends meet if we do become unemployed. We fear the future with no reliable cure or treatment for the virus in sight. All of this is very understandable and yet, I do think there are ways we can approach our lives now that will help mitigate some of this fear. And of course, I think the Five Elements can help.

In the Five Elements model, the emotion of fear is usually associated with the Water element. Balanced Water energy is where hope, trust, optimism, and belief sit. Out of balance Water energy will usually lack these attributes and become fearful, pessimistic, and distrusting. This usually happens when there isn’t enough Water energy flowing. In a state of deficient Water, the usually optimistic Water question of “What if we do/create/imagine this exciting thing?” instead becomes the fearful question of “What if something bad happens?” When we start asking this question, we have opened the door to fear.

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High School Seniors: Grieving the Loss of “Normal”

Dear Vicki: I know this is a difficult time for everyone, but I am wondering how best to help my daughter Kim. She is a high school senior this year and with the pandemic, she clearly isn’t going to have the same experiences that her older sister did when she graduated from high school three years ago. No senior trip. No senior prom. No live graduation ceremony. Not even the girlfriend sleep-overs. There will be virtual events, but we all know that just isn’t going to be the same. The blessing is that we are all healthy and no one close to us has died from Covid-19. But still, missing so many of the events she has waited for is very hard for Kim. How can I help her process the loss and anger she is feeling? And is there any way to make it better for her? Signed: Mom

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Dear Mom: My heart goes out to you and your daughter. Kim is one of an estimated 3.7 million high school seniors in our country who will not have many of the same senior year experiences that previous students have had. And while they may rationally understand the need for social distancing and sheltering at home, it is still difficult to accept that doing these things likely will “ruin” their senior year, at least as far as many of the activities they have looked forward to are concerned. Understanding the elemental personalities contained in the Five Elements model will help us determine how best to help Kim and her fellow seniors cope with the loss of a “normal” senior year.

Because you read this blog, I assume you’re familiar with the Five Elements model and the elemental personalities. But for those who are not familiar with the model or the elemental personalities, I gave a brief overview of both in a post last month which you can read here: https://5faces.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/coronavirus-isolation-and-the-five-elements/

Kim and her fellow high school seniors are facing the reality that the end of their high school careers will not be celebrated with many of the traditional events that have, for decades, marked this symbolic transition to adulthood. And like most of us, they can probably get to a place where they rationally understand that not coming together in large social events will probably save lives – possibly even their own lives or the lives of people they love – but missing the events they have looked forward to for years is still very hard. In truth, I think most of them are grieving a loss of expectations.

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She’s Overwhelmed by Sheltering in Place

Dear Vicki: I have always thought of myself as a good accountant, wife, and mother, but having everyone at home all of the time is driving me crazy. I’m impatient, cranky, and overwhelmed. And I only have one child! I’d love some help, but my husband’s marketing job is more intense than mine, so I haven’t asked him. This means that homeschooling Sammy, our 10-year-old, falls to me, too. I wish we could all just go to our separate rooms and get work done, but Sammy wants to be wherever I am. She also wants to help me with all the meals that are suddenly needed with everyone home, but honestly, she just makes it harder to get things done the right way. I’ve talk to my sister about this and even though she has three children at home, it sounds like she’s sailing through the whole thing. They all cook together! They make homemade gift wrap together! My sister has always been a great artist and kind of a go with the flow person, but why is she doing so much better with this shelter in place stuff than I am? My normal perfection is out the window! What can I do to get better? Signed: Overwhelmed

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Dear Overwhelmed: This may not help much immediately, but please know you are not alone. So many people I have heard from lately are overwhelmed. They are not used to being wife (or husband), employee, cook, housekeeper, teacher, mom (or dad), spouse, boss, and sane all at the same time in the same place with a house full of other people and no clear end in sight. So please, take a deep breath and some immediate comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Far from it!

Your question as to why your sister seems to be managing a husband and three children at home better than you are managing one child at home with you and your husband is a good one. The short answer is that you and your sister are clearly very different people with very different tendencies and priorities. And as you might imagine, I believe this can be traced back to the primary elemental personalities of everyone involved. So, let’s take a look at those because I think you will find not only the answer to your questions, but also some important guidelines regarding how best to survive this “shelter in place” phase most of us are in.

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The Challenge of Working from Home during a Pandemic

Dear Vicki: I appreciated your blog posts about stress and isolation during these Covid-19 times, and as a working wife and mother of 2 children, I do think I’ve handled things pretty well on most fronts. My husband and I are getting along fine and we take turns managing the home-schooling efforts. I still manage the shopping and meals, but I like to cook. What I don’t seem to be doing well is the work from home piece; I can’t seem to get into a rhythm and wrap my mind around my job as an event planner for a mid-sized company. I feel completely uninspired working on the couch at home (my husband is using the office). Plus, I miss laughing and kidding around with my co-workers. Is there something I can do to be more focused and productive working here? Signed: Lost at Home

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Dear Lost: There is no doubt that the current Covid-19 pandemic has thrown almost every aspect of our lives into some form of chaos. And for working couples with school-age children who are now home every day, it often looks more like total chaos. You and your husband are to be commended for managing as well as you are. Please pat yourselves on the back! That said, I suspect the difficulty you are having with being productive working from home relates to your elemental personality, so let’s take a look at that.

The fact that you are an event planner who misses laughing and kidding around with the people at work suggests to me that your primary elemental personality is probably Fire. People with a lot of Fire energy do love to laugh and joke around. They also love attending parties and events, so often make great event planners themselves. And the fact that you do all of the cooking at home suggests that you could have a secondary Earth personality. This would also be an asset as an event planner since most events include food, ideally good food.

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Managing the Stress Created by Coronavirus

Dear Readers: Thank you so much for your positive response to last week’s blog offering insights into how each of the elemental personalities might handle the isolation and confinement associated with the coronavirus pandemic. I am deeply grateful for your positive comments.

I’ve also heard from many of you that the stress associated with the coronavirus pandemic has been hard to manage. Certainly, it is stressful to worry whether you and your loved ones will manage to stay healthy as the virus spreads around the globe. It is stressful to wonder if there will be adequate healthcare should someone you love need it. And it is stressful to ponder how best to keep your household running and adequately supplied when faced with layoffs, shortages, and shelter in place orders.

There is no doubt that the concerns associated with COVID-19 have thrust most of us into a state of prolonged stress. When added to whatever stress we were experiencing in our individual lives prior to the pandemic, we are likely experiencing significant imbalance in our energies. But we have choices in how we address this stress, and the Five Elements model offers us informed options.

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