Stress Less and Find Your Balance by Nurturing the Wood Element
What does stress look like in your life?
Is it too much to do with too little time? Trying to do it all perfectly? Guilt that you're not doing enough? Too little downtime or zero time to yourself? Or perhaps you have toxic people or relationships that zap your energy? An unhealthy work situation? A long commute? No matter what the stress is, we all have it in one form or another.
In Chinese medicine, stress affects the Wood Element first!
I daresay that modern Western culture, with its emphasis on logic, action, and linear thinking puts an undue strain on the Wood Element. Our overly-connected, busy, scheduled lifestyles coupled with relationship or work stress can quickly throw us out of balance. This has led to widespread issues of depression, anger, behavioral and emotional issues.
Finding our Equilibrium Again through the Five Elements
To bring ourselves back into balance, we first must understand some basics of the Five Elements which are: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Each element corresponds to:
- A particular temperament or personality
- Certain parts of our anatomy
- Aspects of our physiology
- Tastes, sounds, and smells
- Certain emotions
- Spiritual lessons
These are just some of the correspondences that we can use to understand ourselves, our relationships, and our health.
In order to thrive, the elements of nature dynamically nurture and balance one another so they can adapt to changes in their environment.
This is also true in our personal ecosystem.
We must shift and change with with the cycles of nature and life in order for us to be happy and healthy. One of the ways we can do this is by changing how we live in order to resonate with the season that we’re in and it's corresponding Element.
Here are just some of the correspondences related to the Wood Element:
- Liver and Gallbladder
- Sinews: tendons and ligaments
- Eyes, nails, hair
- Vision for change
- Flow of our emotions, Qi, and blood
- 1-3 am
- The color green
Stress, overworking, and poor sleep are a few of the factors that can cause Wood Imbalances, leading to symptoms like:
- Anger, irritability, short temperedness
- Unforgiving, holding grudges
- PMS, menstrual cramps, hormone imbalances
- Neck and shoulder tension and discomfort
- Restlessness, difficulty sitting still
- Overwhelmed, spinning, but not getting anything done
- Addictions to sugar, food, alcohol, caffeine, drugs
Children with a Wood Imbalance may manifest symptoms such as:
- Hyperactivity, impulsivity
- Anger, irritability, defiance
- Rude, insensitive, lack of manners
- Addictions to refined carbohydrates, sugar, TV, video games
Stress Less by Living in Alignment with the Wood Element
As winter draws to a close, the days become longer, the weather gets warmer, and the seeds that have been planted begin to sprout and grow. The Wood phase corresponds to morning and springtime. We can use the activities of spring as a metaphor for the activities that resonate with the Wood phase:
#1 Take Action
During the Wood phase of the year, start taking action on the projects and ideas that were brewing in the winter months. The warmer weather calls us to be outdoors more. It's a great time to hike in the woods and explore as well as starting new adventures in our relationships and work.
#2 Get Physically Active
Movement is essential for our health and happiness and during the Wood phase we're called to do more vigorous physical activity. The type that gets us to work up a sweat. This is a great time to start a regular exercise routine, get outdoors daily, and move your body!
#3 Stay Flexible
Since the Wood Element corresponds to the sinews, or the tendons and ligaments, stretching is also really important during this phase! Practicing yoga or stretching daily upon waking and after exercise will keep you nimble.
Because the Liver and Gallbladder correspond to the Wood Element, spring is a great time for gentle detoxification. Avoid alcohol and heavy foods like gluten, dairy, and sugar. Add more dark leafy greens, spring vegetables, and berries which support the Wood Element.
Emotional and Spiritual Aspects of Wood
The emotion anger is associated with the Wood Element and while many of us think of anger as a bad thing it's actually a normal and healthy emotion. As long as we don't get stuck there! When we're angry enough about something we have to take action and changes things! So, anger, when channeled, provides the catalyst for change. Forgiveness is another aspect of the Wood Element that needs to be nurtured and released in the springtime. If there's any past or current hurts you're still holding onto, spring is the time to take steps to release these feelings. Forgiveness is not about condoning what was done, rather it releases us from our own suffering.
Take the Quiz and Find Out How Balanced Your Wood Element Is
Let's see how balanced your Wood Element is! Be sure to take our Wood Element Quiz below and you'll get additional suggestions for how you can keep your Wood Element balanced.