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Stress & Anxiety, Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I looked at what was causing my own stress and anxiety, along with some issues that other people have told me they were dealing with too. Today I want to get to the good part: how to manage our stress and anxiety!



In just the few days since the first post in this series went live, nationwide (and worldwide) anxiety has ramped up even more with  the numerous closings and cancellations due to the Coronavirus and the declaration of a national emergency. Most of us are feeling the fear and stress in our families, neighborhoods, and our country as we shelter at home.

God never meant for us to live in a state of chronic stress. But when life today looks drastically different than it did just a few weeks or even days ago, what are we to do? I’d like to suggest a few ways to manage your stress and anxiety that have worked for me; I hope you find some of them work for you as well.

Let’s get started!

How To Manage Stress & Anxiety

The Bible

First of all. the Bible has been my biggest help. Reading and memorizing God’s word continues to encourage, strengthen, heal, and give me hope and comfort. I have gained a lot of encouragement from a new Bible I purchased called The Battlefield of the Mind Bible by Joyce Meyers. It’s the Amplified version, which I have really enjoyed. The battle for peace begins in our minds.

As I have prayed through my anxiety, God has directed me to certain verses that I have memorized. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul tells us that God’s weapon (His word) is divinely powerful to destroy these strongholds in our minds. Ask God to direct you to powerful, comforting scriptures. Write them down, memorize them and recite them often. They will lay a foundation of freedom.

Prayer & Journaling

Taking my concerns to God, listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit, and journaling what I hear have all been a comfort. The journaling has been important because I have a written record of what God has been showing me. I encourage you to give it a try. Use a notebook or online journal to record your thoughts, prayers, scriptures, and ideas that God plants in your mind.

Over time, you’ll develop a storehouse of spiritual treasures that you can review time and again. You’ll be encouraged as you see how God is and has been faithful to you throughout your life.

The Enneagram

Next, learning about the Enneagram has been very helpful to me as I continue to study how to live out of the healthy level of alignment for a 6. I am discovering so much about myself. I encourage you to explore this if you haven’t. What is different about the Enneagram from other personality tests is that it is spiritually based with the goal of healing your weaknesses. You will learn so much about yourself and gain an understanding as to why you make the choices you do.

Joyce Meyer

Another helpful resource for me has been Joyce Meyer. Joyce is a Bible teacher and author. She has a wealth of resources including her podcast and television show called Enjoying Everyday Life. Joyce shows us how our battles are really fought in our minds and how to work through this. I have found her book Battlefield of the Mind (different than the Bible I talk about above) to be extremely helpful. Joyce’s podcast is also filled with spot-on encouraging truth.

Dr. Caroline Leaf

 God has also lead me to the work of the Christian communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf. I am reading her book The Perfect You, and I have purchased and am using her Switch app. The app is pricey, but life changing. Her app and books teach us how to rid ourselves of toxic thinking and the mindsets that hold us back and actually damage our brains. 

One of the things she emphasizes is that ups and downs are part of life and are even to be expected. We will not be happy all the time. Just as nature has seasons, so do our spiritual and emotional lives. When we struggle with our emotions both in our minds and bodies, we need to realize that these are warning signals for our us to acknowledge and explore deeper. We then need to reconceptualize the toxic thought, which will change our perception of it. This is a bit of a process, which she fully explains in her books and on the app. 

Exercise

Exercise is a great stress reliever. Some of my favorite activities are walking and bicycling. I also like professional ballerina Ann Smith’s DVDs, such as Inhale, Exhale, Stretch & Move. Her DVDs are gentle yet effective and perfect for those dealing with arthritis, fibromyalgia, stress, and similar conditions.

I encourage you to get up and move. Exercise releases the “feel good” endorphins and truly helps to relieve stress. Check with your doctor to see if you have any limitations first.

Time in Nature

Psychologists are studying the effect that being outside in nature has on people, and the results are positive. They are finding that as little as two hours a week in nature can have positive effects: “It [being in nature] decreases heart rate, decreases blood pressure, decreases stress cortisol, [and] improves psychological well-being,” says Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter.

I love being outside. Gardening is one of my favorite activities. Try taking a walk in a park or woods and see if that doesn’t relieve some stress and make you feel more peaceful.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12

Aromatherapy

As a certified aromatherapist, I can suggest a few ways to incorporate oils into your life. Before trying essential oils, consult with your doctor regarding any health issues or meds that may be contraindicated when using essential oils and herbs. Also, please use them safely. There is too much misinformation about essential oils. They are powerful, and you need to use them carefully. Don’t ingest them unless under the care of a medical doctor or clinical aromatherapist.

You must be extremely careful using them on/around children. Please read my Essential Oils for Kids: Safety guidelines before using on your children. When you’re ready, check out an article I wrote on 5 Ways To Use Essential Oils for Relaxation on my Botanically Me website.

Herbal Teas

I also love using herbs. Herbs were our first medicines; the Bible is full of references to these healing plants, and they still retain medicinal properties that can be effective today. For example, different herbs have an affinity for certain systems of the body. Some herbs are immune stimulants, some work in the respiratory system, and some are good for the the central nervous system (stress and anxiety), and so on.

One of the easiest ways to use them is by making an herbal tea. I grow many of my own teas in my garden, and my favorite tea to drink fresh from the garden is a blend of Kapoor tulsi (also called holy basil) and lemon balm. It’s an incredible flavor combination and both tulsi and lemon balm are great options for reducing stress.

Now many of you may not have your own fresh herbs to use – especially during the late winter/early spring season. If that’s the case with you, then you can purchase bulk herbs at a health food store or online or buy herbal tea bags from a local store. These days you can find wonderful medicinal teas in almost every store including Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, Meijer, and so on. Here are a few favorites to try, all of which are caffeine free:

Herbal Tea Information

If you’d like to experiment with making your own teas, here are a few articles from my Botanically Me website to get you started. Keep in mind that many grocery stores sell fresh prepackaged herbs or potted herb plants in the winter that you could use if you want to experiment with the following resources.

Prayers for You

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to share you favorite resources in the comments below. Also, I’d love to pray for you and your family, so Leave a message below on what you need prayer for, and I’ll write a prayer in response.

In these turbulent times, please know you are not alone as you struggle with stress and anxiety. God loves you and will tenderly care for you. We are also praying for you. God bless you and your families.

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Note: A few of the links on this page are affiliate links meaning that if you purchase the item, I will receive a small amount of money in return. I only suggest things that I believe in and use myself. Thank you!




Stress & Anxiety Attacks, Part 1

I first noticed this past October some vague feelings of stress and anxiety creeping up on me. After ignoring them for a few days, the feelings gained strength to the point where I could no longer deny them. After years of strong faith and peace, to be facing my old nemesis again was an uncomfortable and unexpected place to find myself in.



I struggled to figure out what was wrong with me, and I felt guilty for even feeling this way. On a few particularly bad days, I even dealt with a panic attack. Why was this happening? I’ve worked through times of intense stress in my life before, especially after the death of one of my children, and this certainly couldn’t be as terrible as that time. More than anything, I wanted to feel like my normal, upbeat self again.  I remember asking God, “Could you bring back my peace quickly, please, God, without a lot of angst?” Hmm. Well, here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Stress Factors

As I looked over the last few years, I realized I had more than a few stress factors and uncertainties that had been accumulating in my life.

  • My family had navigated through my mom’s 5-year-long illness.  My sisters and I were fortunate to be able to help my dad care for her in their home with the help of family and other caregivers, but it was a bittersweet time of blessings and constant obstacles, resulting in a long good-bye and a difficult loss. Anyone who has been a caregiver for a loved one understands the challenges and heartbreak.
  • Next, I had been dealing with, or rather not dealing with an ongoing business situation, and I just let it go on and on for months without facing it. Stuffing something is not a healthy way to live. As we all probably know, stuffing something means that it will pop up, and usually not it a good way.
  • Add to that, a lot of uncertainty in my future. My husband recently quit his job, and we are putting in place some serious changes so that he can pursue a dream of bicycling to Alaska. This means that my normal day-to-day life will look very different. It’s a big change as I am taking on lots of new responsibilities.
  • My own personality traits and tendencies. If you know anything about the Enneagram, I am a 6 on the Enneagram. A 6’s core weakness is anxiety. As I reflected on my life, I realized how true this is. Even from my early memories, worry has always been my go-to emotion. God has brought much healing in my life already, but at this season, the stress had piled up and felt overwhelming, and I found myself in an unhealthy cycle of worry.

How About You?

You may find yourself there as well. Over the last few months, I have talked to so many people who are struggling with stress and anxiety. Here are some of the stresses I’ve heard from others:

  • Politics
  • Marital issues
  • Health problems
  • Financial problems
  • Job stresses
  • Addictions
  • Worries about children
  • Fear about the Coronavirus
  • Infertility

Honestly, the list could go on and on. My goal with all this is not to make you feel worse, but to let you know you’re not the only one feeling this way and to give you some resources on how to work through the stress.

Although we will never be able to escape stressful situations in life, we can change how we respond to stress. I’ve made a lot of progress, but will probably always have to be aware of this tendency.

Next Post: Ideas for Managing Stress

I have a list of resources that I have almost finished and will share yet this week in another post. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor of any kind. I am just sharing my own experiences, believing that God will use them to encourage someone else.

Please know that I would be happy to pray for you if you leave me a comment so that I can respond back. If you sign up for my mailing list, you will get an email when the next blog is released.

May God bless and heal you as you work through stress and anxiety issues! I’ll leave you with this favorite scripture from Lamentations 3:22-24 AMP to meditate on:

It is because of the Lord’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion and my inheritance, says my soul; Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.’

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One Tip On Dealing with a Chronic Disease or Health Crisis

 

My daughter was 16 when a serious flare-up of her asthma became life-threatening and landed her in the hospital for several days.

What I didn’t realize then is that incident would start a yearlong battle full of twists and turns to help her regain her health. I learned many things during that time, but today I want to share one tip that can make a huge difference if you find yourself in the middle of a health crisis or chronic illness.It’s a simple thing to do, but it can give you an advantage as you wage your fight:

Start a health notebook.

As I said, it’s a simple thing, but creating a notebook will save you so much time and headaches and maybe even a few missteps along the way. Here is how I did it. Tweak it to work for you.

  1. Get a three-ring binder and purchase some tabbed dividers. Fill the notebook with paper and create sections according to your needs. My suggestions: Symptoms, Medications, Doctor visits, Insurance, Nutrition/Diet, Supplements, Research, Resources, School
  2. Put the person’s name in the notebook along with their birthdate. Sometimes a family member who may not know birthdates will be in charge, so put in the birthday and year.
  3. Create a medication list of all the meds the family member is on. Be sure to list the medication name, dosage, how many times a day they take it, and the date they started it. Print the list out and put it in the notebook. Update it every time it changes.
  4. List any vitamins, herbs, essential oils, tinctures, etc. the person is taking. This is important for contraindications for meds.
  5. List any medication allergies in the same section.
  6. In the doctor section, put a printout of every doctor name, telephone and fax number, and address.
  7. Make a few copies of your insurance card and put them in the Insurance section.

How To Use a Health Notebook

This notebook will be a huge help during this stressful phase of your life. Let’s look at a few ways you can use it.

  • Every time you go to a doctor appointment, take the notebook with you. Start a new page, put the date of the appointment, who the doctor is and what was said/decided at the appointment. It is too easy to forget things especially if you’re tired, stressed, or otherwise distracted. Don’t assume that all your doctors are communicating with each other. Hopefully they are, but make sure you update them as to any changes another doctor made in treatment/meds.
  • Between appointments keep track of symptoms/episodes and write them down along with the date and time in the Symptoms section. This can help you detect any patterns.
  • Keep track of any ongoing insurance phone calls/claims/information in that section. Write down the date, who you talked to, and what was said. It’s so much easier to prove what happened when you take careful notes and you’re not hunting around for the scrap of paper you wrote it on.
  • Is the person trying a special diet, such as an elimination diet or gluten-free diet, etc.? Keep a copy of it in the notebook, along with the date it was started and any progress.
  • In the research section, you may want to include any information you have found that you want to show to your doctors. It’s easier to keep a master digital file, but having a printout of that new study you want to discuss with your doctor is helpful when you’re out and about. And this brings up a good point. Be your own best health advocate and research on your own. You have one patient you’re in charge of. Your doctor has many.
    •  Google the condition/disease, research alternative treatments, and pay attention. Being informed is important, and you may find something that will help. For example, when my son was in the hospital suffering from burns, through my research I discovered that protein was

      My son during his hospital stay.

      critical in helping his skin to heal. Every day my daughter and I made/bought protein-rich smoothies for him. He healed more quickly than any of us expected. I don’t know if it was the shakes, but it certainly didn’t hurt him. It’s a good idea to let the nurse/doctor know what you’re doing to make sure it won’t cause any problems.

  • As you find helpful resources, create a list so you’re able to find them again. For example, write down the name of that new product you want to try and how to get it/how much it costs. Write down the name of the specialist your neighbor told you about.
  • If the person is in school, keep track of assignments, notifications to the school, anything the school needs to do/be aware of, and so on.

My daughter and her family today.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you’ll think of many more. I’ve created and used these health notebooks four times in my life, and each time they made a difficult season of life much easier to navigate. I hope they do for you too. I’m praying for you! Let me know your thoughts on how to use it.

Botanically yours,

 

 

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5 Ways To Use Essential Oils for Relaxation

Aromatherapy, stress,If you’re human, you’ve been stressed. Whether it’s an accumulation of little irritants or an unexpected tragedy, stress has reared its ugly head in your life. It’s no respecter of persons. Almost every age group is vulnerable to certain stressors.The question is, How do you handle it?

Does it rule your life, or do you take measures to combat it? I’m hoping it’s the latter, because I’ve got some suggestions of essential oils for relaxation.

You probably already know that short- and long-term stress affect bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, adrenal production, and neurological processes. Short-term stress can actually help us to react quickly in fight-or-flight situations. Long-term stress, however, can be detrimental to our health if not handled properly. So let’s cover some general tips and then explore aromatherapy for stress relief.

General Tips to Handling Stress

  • Energize with Exercise. If you’re feeling revved up, destress with a physical activity. Three of my favorites are Nordic pole walking, cycling, and paddle boarding. Find what you like and get out there  and move, as long as you’re healthy enough for physical activity. Check with your doctor if there’s any question.
  • Add dietary and botanical supplements. Taking a multivitamin may help compensate for any shortfalls in your diet. I like to take a natural foods-based supplement.
  • Eat healthier. Cut down on sugar and eat more leafy greens and other fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Calm Your Spirit. I like to read scripture, memorize Bible verses, and pray to help me calm down. Deep breathing exercises also help to slow down your body and mind.

Essential Oils for Stress Relief

In the late 1960s, Herbert Benson, MD, found a counterbalancing effect to the stress response called the relaxation response.

Aromatherapy is one technique that can be used to elicit the relaxation response. This can help bring about many positive changes in the body, including reduction of blood pressure, slowing of heart rate, increased production of endorphins, and improved insulin response just to name a few things. So now let’s look at five different ways you can use aromatherapy to help alleviate stress:

Five Methods of Aromatherapy Application

  1. aromatherapy inhalerAromatherapy Inhaler — An inhaler is a small plastic bullet-shaped container with a cotton center infused with essential oils. Aromatherapists make these for all different purposes, including stress, allergies, and colds. I love inhalers as they easily fit in your pocket or purse. When you feel the need, just whip it out and take a whiff. They are quick, convenient, and last for months.
  2. Essential Oil Salt Baths — If you don’t have a tub in your home, no worries. Anyone can do a foot or hand salt bath and still get wonderful results. I, unfortunately, am in the no-bathtub club, so I purchased a large bowl and I use that. A current favorite of mine is a lemongrass and tea tree oil foot bath (recipe on link) with Epsom salts (or sea salts). Lavender is another favorite. *Caution: People with high blood pressure or diabetes need to consult their doctor before using salt baths.
  3. Diffusors — Diffusing essential oils with an ultrasonic or nebulizer-type diffuser is a wonderful way to quickly absorb the benefits of essential oils. Rather than letting it run continuously, try running it for about 15 minutes out of every hour. If you don’t have a diffusor, put a few drops in a bowl of warm water and set it in a place where neither children nor pets can get into it.
  4. Direct palm inhalation — In this method, put a drop of essential oil in the palm of yLavender creamour hand, rub both hands together, and inhale the fragrance. I like to use lavender for this, since it is safe to use undiluted.
  5. Massage with essential oils diluted in oil, cream, or salve — One of my favorite ways to use lavender is in an essential oil cream that I quickly make using an unscented pre-made aloe cream. I apply this after showering and enjoy the delightful scent for the next few hours. You can also try any of the other oils I have listed below or a synergy of a few of them. When you’re creating a blend for stress, it’s important that you like the smell, because even if an oil is know for it’s stress-reducing properties, if you don’t like its smell, it will most likely make you feel more stressed.

Here are a few essential oils for stress that have used historically: bergamot, lavender, Roman chamomile, marjoram, ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, rose, vetiver, and cypress. This list is by no means comprehensive, just some to get you started.

Try any or all of the above suggestions the next time you’re feeling stressed, and please share any suggestions you have in the comments below! If you’d like me to create a blend for you, please contact me or check out my workshops for hands-on creation of your own products.

 

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