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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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How to Use Hydrosols

How to Use Hydrosols with Your Family

My first experience with hydrosols came when I received a pack of five of them in the mail as part of my aromatherapy studies. I opened them, smelled them, and … wondered what to do with them. Since that day a few years back, I’ve become a fan of them, well, really obsessed with them, and I use them almost every day. Their gentleness makes them perfect for use with the whole family—even the youngest ones. Let’s explore how to use hydrosols to nurture your family.

What Is a Hydrosol?

  • Hydrosols are a by-product of the essential oil distillation process. You may sometimes hear them called hydrolats, floral waters, herb waters, or distillates.
  • Hydrosols contain the water-soluble constituents of the aromatic plant and retain a very small amount of essential oil.
  • Hydrosols are not the same thing as a few drops of essential oils added to water. That is called an aromatic spritzer.
  • Hydrosols are so mild that they can be used on babies and children much more safely than essential oils can be. (For information on using essential oils with children, read my post on using EOs safely with children.)https://botanicallyme.com/how-to-use-hydrosols/

Benefits of Hydrosols

Hydrosols vs. essential oils

Hydrosols have some of the same benefits as do their essential oils, while being much gentler. They are free of the lipophilic substances that are in essential oils and are richer in water-compatible (hydrophilic) components. This means that they are:

  • highly tolerable
  • soothing
  • generally anti-inflammatory
  • antiseptic
  • wonderful for sensitive skin
  • mildly astringent, yet nondrying

How to Use Hydrosols

https://www.etsy.com/listing/519621878/french-green-clay-powder-french-green?ref=shop_home_active_4Hydrosols can be used as they are without diluting—except for use with children and when ingesting. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Babies. For babies up to six months of age, add 1 tsp of hydrosol to to an infant tub or 2 tsp in an adult tub filled for a baby. For children up to 12 years of age, use 1 tsp of hydrosol per year of age up to 8 tsp. For an adult, use from 1-8 ounces per tub. For foot baths, use 2-3 tbsp for an adult.
  2. For concentrated lotion, cleanser, cream, and gel bases: Add 1 tsp-1 tbsp at a time until you have the consistency you want.
  3. For handmade creams/lotions: Substitute a hydrosol in place of water while you are making the cream.
  4. Aromatic sprays. For adults, use full strength as body sprays or air refreshers.
  5. Toner: Adults can use full strength on face. Can mix multiple hydrosols together or can add aloe vera or honey (1-2 tbsp per 2 oz.) to the mixture.
  6. Masks. Mix a hydrosol (I love to mix German chamomile hydrosol) with green clay for a mask.  Add enough to get the consistency you want.
  7. Compresses. For children add 2 to 3 tsp of hydrosol per 1 liter of water; adults add 3-5 tbsp to 1 liter of water.
  8. Internal Use: For children OVER 3 years of age, add 1-2 tsp to 6-8 oz of a beverage, like water or tea and drink. German Chamomile hydrosol can be beneficial to help a child get to sleep. For an adult, add 1-2 tbsp to a glass of water or tea.

Be creative. Think of the potential of hydrosol uses for sunburns, wet wipes, inflamed skin, diaper rash, and so on.

How to Store Hydrosols

Fresh hydrosol that has been distilled should be pure and free of bacteria. Still, it’s best to store your hydrosols in a sterile container in the refrigerator and use within the year it is distilled.

My Take on Hydrosols

🌿This summer I experimented with making hydrosols and was successful in making German chamomile

Calendula in the distiller

hydrosol, calendula hydrosol, and lemon balm hydrosol (also called melissa hydrosol). I use the chamomile almost every day as a facial toner and alternate between using it and calendula in clay masks for facials or for bee stings. I have not yet tried it in tea or water, but have plans to mix lemon balm hydrosol in a cup of tea.

🌿I love the gentle, therapeutic qualities of hydrosols and their light fragrances. The three that I made all retain a lighter aroma of the plant than the essential oil does. If you have children, hydrosols are the perfect soothing herbal treat to use with them, and you don’t have the concerns that you do as when using essential oils.

🌿Hydrosols are definitely hard to find in retail stores, but you can order them online. Eden Botanicals,  Stillpoint Aromatics, and Mountain Rose Herbs are just three companies that carry them.

🌿Actually, as an aromatherapist, I can’t recommend hydrosols highly enough. I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to try them, and I bet that soon they’’ll be part of your go-to remedies to care for and pamper yourself and your family!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section, or share what your favorite hydrosol is and how you use it.

Botanically me,

Resources 

I used the resources listed below as I was writing this post. (I am an affiliate for both the New York Institute and Amazon).

The New York Institute of Aromatic Studies is where I received my Level 1 aromatherapy training and certification from. I continue to study with them. You can see all the classes they offer at the hyperlink. They offer both online and in-person classes.

The following two books both have a  section on hydrosols.




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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Cozy Ginger for Winter Wellness

Warm, spicy, exotic. Three words that come to mind when I think of a favorite herb and oil of mine: ginger, or Zingiber officinale by its nomenclature. A perfect choice for winter wellness, ginger has a rich history as a medicinal, healing botanical.



GingerRoot

I first became familiar with it years ago when I was juicing and would add a thumb-size piece of the root to my current juicing recipe. You can’t miss its spicy flavor and aroma. Ginger tisane (tea) became my go-to favorite, and it’s especially comforting in the fall and winter. If I feel the chills or flu symptoms setting in, it is the first thing I reach for to help me fight off any nasty bug. It’s also know for being soothing to the stomach.

Besides all of these properties, when it’s used topically, ginger is a pain reliever. Last year I developed a blend for my weight-lifting son to use, and ginger is one of the main ingredients in it to help increase circulation and relieve aches, pains, and strains.

Let’s explore a bit of the science behind this herb.

Therapeutic Actions of Ginger

While there are several others, here are the main therapeutic actions of ginger.

  • Analgesic (pain relieving)
  • Anti-emetic (reduces nausea and vomiting)
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Carminative (soothes and settles the gut wall, relieves gas)
  • Digestive
  • Stomachic (tone and stimulate the action of the stomach)

Core Applications

While this list is not comprehensive, I’ve highlighted a few of the main systems of the body that ginger can affect.

  1. Digestive System. Historically ginger is know to help ease and prevent nausea, vomiting, , gas, stomachaches, and loss of appetite.
  2. Musculoskeletal System. When added to a cream or oil blend, ginger can help relieve muscular aches and pains from arthritis, sprains, rheumatism, joint pain, and stiffness.
  3. Respiratory System. Historically, ginger is indicated for colds, fevers, sore throats, sinusitis, bronchitis, congestion, and catarrh (excessive mucus in the nose or throat).
  4. Reproductive/Endocrine System. May be helpful for reduced sex drive, menstrual cramps and pain, amenorrhea, and dysmenorrhea.

Two Ways to Use Ginger for Winter Wellness

Whether you’re using the essential oil or the actual root, ginger is a delightful botanical to try. Here are two of my favorite ways to use it:

Ginger Tea

IMG_2344

Even thought it is a rhizome, ginger is so juicy that we can infuse it in water.

Directions

  1. Thinly slice or chop about one inch of fresh ginger root .
  2. Add to a Fresh press or put the ginger into an infuser and set in your teacup. Add 8 ounces of just-off-the-boil water.
  3. Steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain and drink.
IMG_2345

Variation: To add a lovely note of lemon plus get all the health benefits, add dried or fresh lemon balm or lemon verbena leaves. It also complements ginger nicely, as it is known to help digestive and respiratory complaints too. Honey and fresh lemon juice are two other wonderful additions if you want a sweeter version with additional lemon flavor. Add these directly before drinking.

Ginger Salt Glow

With it’s warming qualities, ginger makes a lovely salt scrub, especially for the winter months. You can also sub sugar for the salt. I like to use brown sugar.

  • 1 cup fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (for example: almond, apricot, or sunflower)
  • 12 drops Ginger Essential Oil

Directions: 

  1. Pour salt into a bowl and add the vegetable oil. Stir well.
  2. Add the essential oils. Stir until evenly dispersed. Add more oil to adjust to your liking.
  3. Store in a glass or PET plastic container.

To Use: Apply 2-3 times per week. Wet skin. Rub salt mixture in a continuous motion over body, avoiding cuts and the face, as salt is too rough for this delicate skin. Rinse off. Follow with a body lotion, cream, or oil.

Once you’ve experienced this exotic herb, you’ll want to find more ways to use it.

What’s your favorite way to use ginger for winter wellness? Be sure to share in the comments below!

Cautions:

The information here is provided for adults, not children. Pregnant women should also consult their doctors before using any essential oils. According to the Gale Health and Wellness, “dosages over 6 g could cause gastric problems and possibly ulcers. Ginger may slow down blood clotting time. Before taking ginger, consumers should check dosages with a healthcare provider. Additionally, consumers should not ingest the whole ginger plant; it has been found to damage the liver in animals. Ginger root is not recommended for people with gallstones.”

Resources:

Gale Group Health and Wellness Resource Center




Parenting Chronically Ill Children with Kimberly Ehlers

Do you or someone you know parent a chronically ill child? If so, you’ll want to listen to this encouraging Only By Prayer podcast with Kimberly Ehlers and Jane VanOsdol. Kimberly’s 13-year old son was diagnosed with a serious illness shortly after birth. Listen as Kimberly offers hope and suggestions to parents of chronically ill children. This is also a must-have for anyone who is a friend of family member of a person with a chronically ill child, as Kimberly shares way you can support the parents and family.

Kimberly has been happily married to her best friend, Randy, for over 15 years. Together, they homeschool their son, Seth. Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Mental Disabilities: Moderate, Severe and Profound from the University of Northern Iowa, and taught special education for four years before becoming a stay-at-home mom – her absolute favorite “job” ever! Kimberly is also a Christian writer and speaker whose heart is to encourage moms like her with children who have serious illnesses.
Nurturing Hope.  Growing Faith.  Trusting God With Your Child’s Health.

Just click on the sideways triangle below to listen, or find us on iTunes.