Do Headaches Get You Down?

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog: Five Element Fixes. 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: I’ve always had a tendency to get headaches when stressed. Not surprisingly, I’m pretty stressed these days so am having more headaches. I’ve even found myself rather short-tempered when things take too long to happen or don’t turn out the way I want them to. Any tips on managing the headaches?

Answer: When headaches flair up, try the following: Rub a menthol-based balm on your temples, then sit quietly for several minutes taking slow, steady breaths until you feel yourself relax.

Why: Menthol helps balance the Wood element, and out of balance Wood energy is often a significant cause of headaches. That’s because one of the major channels of energy running through the head (the Gallbladder meridian) is governed by the Wood element. So when this energy is out of balance or gets stuck, it can create headaches (and temper tantrums). And by the way, anger and frustration are also symptoms of an imbalance in the Wood element.

Not only does menthol help balance Wood energy, its scent can act as a vasodilator, relaxing and opening blood vessels (especially in the head). This, in turn, facilitates blood flow which helps decrease headaches and create an enhanced sense of calm.

It’s also important to note that the need for accomplishment sits in the Wood element. The lack of accomplishment (or an inability to do certain things) can also create an imbalance in Wood energy. That means it might be a good idea these days to be reasonable regarding your expectations for yourself, and others. And of course, it goes without saying that if your headaches become severe, you should seek medical attention.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

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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The Holidays: What Really Matters to the People in Your Life?

Dear Vicki: “I’m devastated that my grandchildren won’t be here for Thanksgiving. How could their parents take them to Hawaii?”

Dear Vicki: “I don’t want to go to the company holiday party. Can I get out of it?”

Dear Vicki: “My husband is obsessed with finding the perfect gift for his best friend. How can I convince him that’s not the point?”

Dear Vicki: “I want to host the family holidays this year. I throw better parties, but my sister says they’re too loud. Who should win?”

Dear Vicki: “My wife and I have always had a quiet ceremony on New Year’s Eve, but now she thinks we should go to her best friend’s house instead. Really?”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Dear Readers: Happy Thanksgiving! May this day focused on gratitude enrich your soul and create an awareness of the blessings in life that will deepen the joy in your heart. There is always something for which to be thankful.

For many people, in addition to its purpose as a day of gratitude, Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the holiday season. And every year at this time, I receive letters from readers asking how best to address a multitude of thorny holiday issues. So, in the name of holiday harmony, I once again offer this brief reminder of what will matter the most to each of the five primary elemental personalities in your life (including you!) during the upcoming holiday season.

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Family Feud over Fourth of July

Dear Readers: This is a timely “oldie but goodie” from our files. Enjoy! 

Dear Vicki: The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge for our family. My sixteen-year-old daughter, Joni, wants to have a huge picnic, invite all of her friends, and shoot off fireworks after dark (we live where they are legal). Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering or maybe even a night at the movies. Of course, Joni claims that would be boring. To make matters worse, Jake, my husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness – along with a few close friends – would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, we are a family divided. Any suggestions? Signed, Fractured Family

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Dear Fractured Family: Holidays are never easy because everyone has expectations, and those expectations will always be colored by our elemental personalities. Different personalities will want to celebrate holidays in different ways, as you are clearly finding out. So, let’s take a look at how to resolve the issues and create the possibility of a happy July 4thcelebration for everyone.

Joni, who wants a big party with lots of people, excitement, and activity sounds like a primary Fire personality. Excitement and activity are the epitome of fun for Fire people. And fireworks? The name says it all. Plus, the Independence Day holiday occurs during summer, which is Fire’s season. This means Joni’s Fire personality is likely revved up even more by summer and she’s really ready to party.

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The Holidays: What Really Matters to the People in Your Life?

Dear Vicki: “I’m devastated that my grandchildren won’t be here for Thanksgiving. How could their parents decide to take them to Hawaii?”

Dear Vicki: “I don’t want to go to the company holiday party. Can I get out of it?”

Dear Vicki: “My husband is obsessed with finding the perfect gift for his best friend. How can I convince him that’s not the point?”

Dear Vicki: “I want to host the family holidays this year. I throw better parties, but my sister says they’re too loud. Who should win?”

Dear Vicki: “My wife and I have always had a quiet ceremony on New Years Eve, but now she thinks we should go to her best friend’s house instead. Really?”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

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Dear Readers: Every year, letters from you abound regarding how best to address thorny holiday issues. So in the name of holiday harmony, I once again offer this brief reminder of what will matter the most to each of the Five Element personalities during the holiday season.

To paraphrase A Tale of Two Cities, the holiday season is the best of times, and the worst. The holidays celebrated from November through January, replete with tradition and meaning, guarantee that ceremony and fun will end up co-mingling with pushed buttons and dashed expectations. “We’ve always done it this way; that matters to me” must dance with “We’ve always done it this way; I think it’s boring.” To help keep your relationships harmonious during the holiday season, here is a brief summary of what will matter most to the people in your life, and what won’t. There are also a few suggestions regarding ways to keep the season happy for everyone.

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