Are Any of Your Five Elements Out of Balance? Here’s How to Find Out

Holden QiGong
4 min readOct 17, 2023

Do you ever feel that something isn’t quite right in your body, but you just can’t put your finger on it? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Qi Gong, it could indicate that one or more of your Five Elements are out of balance.

In TCM, five distinct elements compose all aspects of who you are. These Elements include Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. Each has its own unique qualities that manifest both physically and emotionally. Your physical and emotional health thrives when all Five Elements are balanced and in harmony. If one or more of your Elements falls out of balance, on the other hand, you can experience a variety of emotional or health challenges.

In this blog, you’ll learn how to identify common imbalances associated with each of the Five Elements. You’ll also discover how to strengthen and balance the Five Elements within yourself.

Metal Imbalances

Your Metal Element plays an important role in both physical and emotional resilience. Physically, it helps keep your immune system strong to protect against illness. Emotionally, it allows you to discern between your own energy and others so you can stay grounded and centered.

When your Metal Element falls out of balance, you might feel sad or depressed. Activities you once loved might feel boring, and you may experience a loss of excitement and inspiration for life. Of course, it’s normal and healthy to experience a range of emotions, but if you feel “stuck” in sadness, it could be a clear indicator that your Metal Element is out of balance.

Additionally, if you find yourself catching colds or experiencing respiratory issues frequently, that could be another sign that your Metal Element is out of balance. For more indicators of Metal imbalances, check out our previous blog, Six Signs Your Metal Element Might Be Out of Balance (and How to Regain Harmony).

Water Imbalances

Water Element imbalances can manifest in a variety of ways. One clear indication is a feeling of scarcity and fear, which can show up as insecurity. Someone with a Water imbalance might feel that they “aren’t enough” or have concerns about how much they have in life. Essentially, it’s the opposite of feeling abundant. Of course, such feelings aren’t pleasant and can limit your overall outlook on life.

Physically, a Water imbalance can lead to joint pain, low back pain, chronic fatigue, and hormone imbalances. We’ve dedicated an entire blog to Water Imbalances, which explains how Water excesses or deficiencies can manifest within you.

Wood Imbalances

No one wants to feel stressed out all the time, but where does stress come from? According to TCM, stress can often indicate your Wood Element is out of balance.

Wood imbalances can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, excessive anger, and frustration. If someone has a Wood imbalance, they might be easily annoyed or get upset often. Not surprisingly, this can have a negative impact on others, not just the person who is experiencing the Wood imbalance.

Physically, Wood imbalances can create tension in your tendons, ligaments, and nervous system. This stress and tension can lead to high blood pressure and headaches. All of these symptoms can compound and fuel the cycle of imbalance.

Fire Imbalances

Similar to the Wood Element, Fire imbalances can show up in the form of stress and anxiety. Specifically, Fire imbalances can cause stress in relationships with others. Individuals with a Fire imbalance may experience intense social anxiety or discomfort when they’re in social situations.

Additionally, Fire imbalances can lead to both circulation issues as well as insomnia. If you get cold easily or find it difficult to fall asleep at night, it could indicate your Fire Element is out of alignment.

Our previous blog about Fire Element imbalances covers a lot more detail on the topic.

Earth Imbalances

Earth Element imbalances often manifest as excessive thinking and worrying. If you’re constantly thinking about everything you need to do, it could indicate your Earth Element is out of balance. Replaying memories from your past over and over again in your mind is another form of excessive thinking that can be connected to an Earth Imbalance.

Physically, Earth Element imbalances can lead to various digestive issues. Sometimes, these can be minor digestive symptoms, but they can also grow and become chronic issues that persist over time.

How You Can Address Five Element Imbalances

There are several ways you can address Five Element imbalances, but one of the most direct ways is by practicing specific Qi Gong exercises designed to cultivate and harmonize each of the Five Elements within you. To learn more about how you can use Qi Gong to balance the Five Elements within yourself, be sure to check out our Free Two-Week Qi Gong Trial.