I used to be a walking disaster. From my teens into adulthood, I struggled with multiple addictions of alcohol and hard drugs, as well as sugar and smoking. My life spiraled out of control, until a mentor came into my life in 1987, and introduced me to the healing power of plants.
I now have over 32 years (and counting) of sobriety under my belt, and I know without a doubt that with the right tools, anyone can manage their stress, overcome addiction, and live a vibrant and healthy life.
Although I attribute my recovery from addiction to the healing powers of plants, the most important element was learning healthy new habits to manage stress.
Smudging with sage and other aromatic plants was the first real method of herbal healing that I learned, and it is one of the quickest ways to dispel feelings of stress, tension, and negative energy. If you’ve never done it before, don’t dismiss it as barbaric; this is ancient practice is surprisingly effective. Sage (and similar aromatic incense herbs like palo santo and cedar) contain essential oils that quickly promote feelings of wellbeing and inner peace. And it’s so simple to do. In a fire-proof dish, burn a little bit of sage, and fan the smoke around your head and shoulders. Give your body a good shake and stretch your muscles to release pent-up tension. I learned how to do this in 1987, and have continued to do it nearly every day for the last 29 years. It works.
Another fast way to cut through negative vibes and help you feel peaceful is this simple aromatherapy trick. Choose a relaxing essential oil such as lavender, clary sage, sandalwood, or patchouli. Place a single drop of one of these oils in your palm. Rub your hands together, then bring your hands to your face and inhale deeply. Exhale, and repeat a few times. This method is particularly effective when accompanied by a headache or tension in your neck and shoulders.
Make a cup of calming herbal tea
Black and green teas both contain caffeine, which can increase feelings of anxiety, so stick to herbal teas with zero caffeine. Daily Calm contains chamomile, which can take your stress down a measurable notch. However, if you’re having a meltdown and need something stronger, choose a blend that contains valerian, a natural and safe herbal sedative. This herb can help you regain your composure. Both Anxiety Relief and Nitey Nite contain valerian. During times of high anxiety, valerian won’t put you to sleep, but it will help you calm down within a few minutes.
Try a relaxing herbal tincture
If you don’t have time to brew up some tea, herbal tinctures are remarkably fast acting, and you don’t need to take large amounts to experience the benefits. Herbal tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts, and you take them by the drop instead of by the cup. One of my favorite ways to take herbal tinctures is what I call micro-dosing. Place one to three drops of a relaxing herbal tincture in your mouth, and repeat every 15 minutes until you get results. Top picks for instant calm are Take A Chill Pill, Anxiety Relief, and Knockout Drops.
Take off your shoes and do a quick foot massage with a drop of vetiver essential oil mixed with a small amount of coconut oil. Vetiver has a deep, earthy aroma that is instantly grounding. Even if you’re not a fan of the unique aroma, you will love the effects. Other helpful oils are frankincense, myrrh, and patchouli; all of these will help you feel more grounded, calm, and clear-headed.
Spend a few minutes of sketching, drawing, doodling, or coloring in one of those adult coloring books. It’s fascinating that our brains and emotions can reset themselves when we switch tasks and engage our creative energy. It doesn’t matter whether or not you know how to draw. The subconscious mind responds to colors and shapes, which is why adult coloring books are so popular.
Everyone says it: breathe. Just breathe. But in the heat of the moment, who wants to breathe when breaking things can feel so much more satisfying? Speaking as a former breaker of things, I can attest to the power of long deep breaths, in and out, one at a time. Taking a time-out long enough to breathe in and out can make all the difference in the outcome of a tough situation.
One of my biggest lessons when I was in the process of getting my act together: the roots of plants go deep, and they will hold us up, if only we learn to lean on them in times of trouble.