Adjusting To A Post-Pandemic World

by Vivian Takafuji, Ph.D, L.Ac., Dipl. OM

We are now in the season of Spring. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the 5 elemental energies of nature (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth) and dualistic principles (Yin and Yang) are reflected in the organs of the human body.

This time of the year is associated with the Liver organ and the element of Wood. The days (corresponding to light and Yang energy) are lengthening while the nights (corresponding to darkness and Yin energy) are relatively shorter. We see nature in all of her forms slowly emerge from the dead of Winter, sprouting delicate young leaves and furry offspring. Energies stored up in hibernation are mobilized for growth and new activity. A certain innocence is in the air as new possibilities and excitement for the year come into being. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced humanity into an extended season of Winter and socialization paralysis. 

Due to prolonged health uncertainty, decisions on whether/how to interact with each other have been based on fear of consequence rather than living with each other in the moment. According to TCM, the emotion corresponding to Winter and imbalance in the associated Water element is fear. Further, an imbalanced Wood element corresponding to Spring can show up as emotions of anger and rage. The interrelationship of these two elements has been disrupted with humankind not being able to move naturally from Winter into Spring over the last couple of years. Indeed, I have witnessed much unsettled anxiety, fear, depression, distrust and anger in my patients throughout the course of the pandemic, as well as within myself.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies can be helpful to mitigate any imbalances between the Water and Wood elements that have manifested in health problems during this time.

Fortunately, there seem to be indications of a safe return to familiar activities and communal events this year. Collectively, we have had time to process our fears and make plans to adapt to living with this virus as a part of our new reality. We will need to continue to support each other through this delicate process of reclaiming life as individuals and as a species. Humans are social beings and need this Lifestyle medicine pillar of “Community” to be truly healthy – virtual interactions, although a helpful compromise, just don’t offer the same depth of experiences that can feed the soul.

Similar to a mighty oak tree, we have had the opportunity over the long Winter to set deep roots into the ground and now is the time to spread our branches up in the sky by relating to the energy of the Wood element. Let’s find the excitement in life again by tapping into the energies of the season and realigning with the movement of nature. 


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