Anxiety Part 1: The Power of Rituals + New Products

As I sit here writing this post, I am partaking in a ritual I began about 6 months ago. My kids are finally in bed. The house is quiet. I am calm. 

My life is full. Many would say too full. I am wife to an amazing man who works crazy hours in law enforcement. I am mommy to 3 creative and energetic kids, ages 7, 5 and 2. I am the founder and hat juggler of Zoe Organics. Housekeeper, chef, pet caretaker (have you seen the Instagram pics of our new puppy!?), taxi driver… the list goes on, and it makes me tired just thinking about it.

About 2 and a half years ago, my 3rd baby was born and I found myself struggling with anxiety. I have always been an "intense" person, but the anxiety I experienced was much more than my usual level of stress and felt crippling. Definitely not always rational. I would dread nighttime and feel totally inadequate to handle motherhood or my business. To say the least, I was fragile. As my baby got older, it got easier, and today when I feel those feeling of overwhelm and my heart begins racing, there are a handful of strategies I have learned that help me overcome it, and help other moms struggling with it as well.

This is a short introduction to a series that has been brewing for months. You see, this fall, I posted a picture on Instagram of my magnesium tea and said I would write a post about how it helped my anxiety. I was surprised that my post was met with emails and messages from moms telling me that they too struggled with anxiety and wanted more information – to find something that helped! I have been alarmed to learn how many moms are on medication to relieve symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. I'm not sure if the cause is related to lifestyle, the enormous pressure and unnecessary expectations we put on ourselves, or biological imbalances (hello wacky hormones!). I suspect a combination of all, and I do know that moms need relief. If you struggle with anxiety and are not a mom – I'm sure this information can be helpful to you (and I don't mean to leave you out)! But I am writing this post as a mom, to moms, because I feel a deep connection and empathy for the enormous number of moms struggling with anxiety.

Unfortunately, I have to add a disclaimer here because there are people out there who will think I am trying to play doctor and offer medical advice. I am not. I am sharing what has worked for me and some of the women I love most. If you are experiencing symptoms that are severe and you are in distress, consult a health care provider. Sometimes medical treatment is necessary to break a cycle, or there is an underlying medical condition that needs immediate attention. 

The first tip I am going to share with you is the power of ritual. Merriam Webster defines "ritual" as

an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.

There is something incredibly comforting about rituals, particularly when your life feels like total chaos (i.e. motherhood). I remember a midwife telling me how much she encourages new moms to practice a ritual. Her example was to simply to burn a pretty candle next to the bed in the evening while breastfeeding. 

A ritual can be anything from lighting a candle and meditating (not to be confused with lying in your bed and letting all of the cares and stresses of the day pummel you), writing in a journal, taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of tea, watering your garden (my favorite in the summer). It can be a simple thing. In fact, the simpler you make it, the easier to stick to (this is supposed to be enjoyable, so don't make it a chore). 

A ritual can be done any time of day, but I enjoy mine at the end of the day. It helps to end the day on a positive note, get better sleep and in turn, begin the next day in a better state. 

What is it about a ritual that is so powerful? As I mentioned before, a ritual can ground us, especially when there is inconsistency (read "no control") in other part of our lives. It is something familiar, something you can count on, something you do by choice – and it fills your cup. 

A ritual can reconnect us with ourselves and ideally, take us out of our task oriented routine and into a much different head (and heart) space. I have jokingly called these my "mommy-time-outs" because when I am torn in so many directions that I can't think straight the last thing I feel is patient and able to respond to my kids' demands in a loving way. So to avoid these adult tantrums, I have to create some space between my tasks and other stressors. Through rituals, I can reconnect with joy and creativity and sensitivity.

My evening ritual includes a hot "tea" that I will share in my next post and a hot bath with aromatherapy. Throughout the day and in the evening I burn aromatherapy candles. The cozy ambiance they create and the warm honey scent of my favorite beeswax candles is like comfort food for my soul. 

Some of us already have daily rituals, but don't let the type of ritual I am talking about be confused with a habit. The kind of ritual I challenge is something done deliberately and the choice of ritual must be something that brings about positive results. In this case, we are talking about unraveling anxiety – so the ritual must be something that counters it. 

Over the past few months, I have compiled my favorite aromatherapy blends and created a few products that I am calling "Mama's Ritual." These products were created from the belief that every mama should have a special ritual that brings her peace; that relieves anxiety and stress and elevates her mood. The Mama's Ritual collection features products that are themselves ritualistic in nature, with aromatherapy blends of therapeutic grade organic essential oils. I cannot wait to share them with you. 

We are in the final stages before launching these beauties in March and we would love to give 5 moms pre-release samples in exchange for feedback! Anyone interested? 

To be considered please share any personal experience with anxiety (does this resonate with you?) and/or favorite rituals to combat anxiety. We will be open for comments through Thursday and will choose and announce the 5 who will receive samples on Friday (how's that for a Valentine's Day treat?!). 

Stay tuned for my post on the beverage that I traded for medication next week! xo

Comments on this post (22)

  • Feb 20, 2014

    Loving reading these posts. Stress for me comes in the form of waking up and getting on with my neverending list of things i cant get caught up on i.e. paperwork, filing, doctors appointments etc. I find time to breathe! Meaning, i find myself at three in the afternoon, or even nine at night realizing that i havent taken a deep breath all day! I even have a ritual of taking a bath and loving the warm water soak, but realize reading these posts, that i need to make that more of a ritual, so I just put a candle in the bathroom to remind me tonight. i love learning all I can about handling my own stress so that I dont pass on anxiety or anxious behaviors to my children. They are watching us right?! Well good for you for developing this company. I had an exposure that left me very unable to handle man made scents, and other inhaled substances. I am grateful for finding these posts this morning. I would love to try your products and let you know how they affected me. Blessings to your day……………you go mommy!

    — Vanessa Lee

  • Feb 17, 2014

    Ritual very important: bathes with lots of Himalayan salt rocks. Absorbing the minerals from the salt helps me. One of my teachers says salt bathes is a remedy for radiation poisoning from Fukashima which we all have exposed to. Question for Laurie Dimino what is the recipe for brewed Kombucha and elderberry elixir?

    — @rivkafreeman

  • Feb 13, 2014

    Hi, Heather! Thank you so much for sharing. I just gave birth to our beautiful baby boy 3 weeks ago. I love hearing stories and advice from moms so that I could learn from them and see how their experiences can help me in my path. My husband was able to take a month off from work, which I am truly grateful for. He is going back to work next week, which is kind of giving me a little anxiety because he really has been helping me a lot with our baby. I know it will be quite challenging to do all the cleaning, cooking, and working from home while he will be at work- right now, everything works because he is able to care for our little boy while I do chores. I know that’s all going to change next week. I know a lot of moms go through this everyday with no help, so I trust that I can do it on my own as well. It’ll just take a little bit of time to adjust.

    As of now, I find myself getting anxious with the littlest things in our home- things that are in disarray/disorganized. Surprisingly, vacuuming and cleaning has been a ritual that puts me at ease. I also find those quiet times breastfeeding my little one to calm me down and put me in the “now”. And at the end of the day, I burn cedar and sweet grass, say a little prayer, and be thankful for everything that I have gone through that has brought me to where I am today.

    Hope you had a lovely day! Thank you again.

    — Marie

  • Feb 13, 2014

    I love this post! I just had my third baby and wow, nothing has been so wonderful and SO SO SO stressful and difficult all at the same time! I love children and it has never been a struggle to manage them until this third one came along. My “ritual” is baths with essential oils as often as I can as an anxiety and stress relief, but sometimes I switch things up. I love your products so much. Thanks for the opportunity! Xo

    — Heather

  • Feb 13, 2014

    Thank you for the informative post! I have a 2 year old son and 7 week old daughter. I am a SAHM to these two lovelies. I really never thought I had any issues with anxiety, but am finding on particularly stressful days that I am frazzled by the end if the day or the smallest thing can send me into a tailspin. I too, like others, strive to be perfect in keeping the house and cooking dinner, etc. I would love to incorporate your beautiful products into a daily ritual to combat this stress and anxiety and enjoy more quality time with my family. Thank you!!

    — Jillian

  • Feb 13, 2014

    Thank you for this post and for being so open and honest!
    I am a new mom and a Pilates studio owner.
    My anxiety comes from the feeling of where to start first and being overwhelmed with the tasks that being a mom brings.
    I never thought of the idea of a ritual and think it is a beautiful idea to start incorporating it into our day. We do love to breastfeed and snuggle in bed a lot together at night. And that is my favorite time of day together.
    Thank you again! Xo

    — Jame

  • Feb 11, 2014

    Loved reading your experience! I’d be happy to test the line and share my feedback :) I already love using your nipple balm and belly oil xo

    — Melissa

  • Feb 11, 2014

    Great post, thanks so much for sharing. First, I have to say that you are my hero! I have 3 kids, the exact same ages as yours. I can barely manage to run my household, let alone a business! I really don’t know how you do it, you are amazing! I struggle with stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel like I am too busy stressing about the daily grind and getting various things done to actually enjoy my sweet kids. This is a good reminder to SLOW DOWN and take a breath of sorts. I’m a huge fan of your products and company. I would very happily be a tester for these new products!

    — Kerri

  • Feb 09, 2014

    I’m a first time mom January 3 this year to a beautiful premie son Jep. Anxiety is a whole new world to me. With the pressures to make the right decisions that won’t impact my son in terms or circumcision and vaccinations, getting used to this new body as it has transformed from the athlete I once was, trying to shift bookkeeping of my husbands plumbing business to our house and not to mention all things mommy and Jep on the exclusive pumping and production realm. I originally followed your IG based on your products and how they struck home for how I want to raise my son seeing the important words of organic and making them resonate in our house and hopefully his life-but tonight when I seen your IG post about anxiety I jumped at the opportunity to read about someone else’s struggle and share that I’m not alone in thinking I do have some with all these new pressures. Thank you so much for sharing as well as developing a few ways that can help us with your products. I for one am ecstatic and cannot wait to try and purchase and find some more relief! Thank you sincerely.

    — Amy k

  • Feb 08, 2014

    Thank you for this post – it’s really helpful to read about what has worked for you. I have battled anxiety since I was a teenager and now that I’m expecting my first baby it’s definitely kicked up in intensity. I hope to put some of this into practice to help now and after the baby comes.

    — Beth

  • Feb 08, 2014

    What perfect timing! I read this post today a half hour before guests were scheduled to arrive at my baby girl’s first birthday party. This is supposed to be one of the happiest days ever. I have everything I have every wanted in life….a loving husband, a healthy baby girl, and the ability to be a stay-at-home mom. I have struggled with depression my entire life (unfortunately it has been past down three generations). When my husband and I decided to start a family, I stopped taking my medication. I have been doing well for the past two and a half years (it took a while to get pregnant) but lately I have been struggling. I found myself crying today at the stress of getting the house “spotless” for the party. I know…who cares…no one will notice….but I couldn’t enjoy the day. This was my wake-up call. I need change. I need to find a way to be happy…for my baby girl. I need spring. The watering of plants and starting seeds that will turn into nutrition for my family – that is my daily ritual in the spring and summer. Winter has me down. I do not want to stop nursing but know that I need to find something other than medication to help calm me when I feel my chest tightening for some silly reason that really shouldn’t matter. I would be honored to try your products and make them a daily ritual that will lift my spirit and help me continue to be a fun and energetic mom to my precious baby girl.

    — Kate

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I am also a wife of a law enforcement officer so I can totally relate to the crazy life of shift work and spending lots of time doing everything on your own. I have a 14 month old son plus I also work as an xray tech at our local hospital. I have realized that while the last year of my life has been amazing I have often felt overwhelmed and stressed. I have really gotten into finding ways to reduce my stress and anxiety. I started taking Body flow classes at the gym and have been using a lot of lavender and things like that to help give me the calmness and serenity I so desperately need sometimes. I can totally relate to your story and look forward to reading more!

    — Ashley Redinger

  • Feb 08, 2014

    Love reading you, always.
    I’m a mother of two!

    — Marzia

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading this post and some of the ways you have managed stress – I’m especially looking forward to reading about the tea! My naturopathic doctor has me taking magnesium packets for headaches, and I know that has helped me tremendously.

    My daughter just turned five months old. Before I was Mama, I was anxious about just about everything, especially work related things. My entire pregnancy I would worry if something felt funny or if I didn’t measure right at an appointment. I would scare myself silly reading things on the internet. This continued until I received advice from a friend. This friend had the same problem of over-analyzing everything, and one day her husband just took all of her books and told her to trust her body. That was the advice she gave me, and from that point on in my pregnancy if I became worried about something I would light my favorite candle, take a warm bath, and read one of my favorite novels to clear my head.

    Now that my daughter is here I’ve been resisting reading about everything and comparing her to what are considered milestones. Each baby is different. Just like I trusted my body during pregnancy, I need to trust my daughter to grow in her own time and to become her own little person.

    I would love to test out your new line of Mama’s rituals to help me continue my relaxing routine and happily share the feedback!

    — Aubrey

  • Feb 08, 2014

    Oh you are my soul sister, Heather. Love you sweet Mama. Thank you for sharing you.

    — Melanie

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I had bad PPD with my first. For my second, I did placenta encapsulation and it was nothing short of miraculous. With my third, I had my placenta done, but it have me horrible migraines and yuckiness! I blame the boy hormones.

    This time, I haven’t had PPD, but the post partum anxiety has been off the charts at times. I’m hoping it will fade when I’m done nursing and being kept up all night. :)

    I’m actually having a blood panel done for my naturopath, to make sure my hormone levels are okay. That’s my big step in self care right now.

    I would love to be a tester!

    — Laura

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I am a new mom to a son born in December. I have struggled tremendously with stress and anxiety since having him because my husband is unable to help me. He is a quadriplegic and while he tries his best it hasn’t helped to relieve the pressure I feel to care for our son, our dog and our home. I have tried everything except medicine ( I avoid medicine as much as possible). Would love to try the mamas ritual in hopes of calming me down a bit.

    — Lisa B

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I have been battling anxiety since childhood. I tried medication after my second child was born in 2006, but when I became pregnant with my 3rd and had a miscarriage, I decided I needed to find alternative methods to cope. If I feel myself getting anxious I belly breathe—deep breaths in while pushing the stomach out. Self-soothe by telling myself everything is okay, and then I give myself a time-out to regroup. Journaling helps to clear extra thoughts from my mind so that I can relax. A long hug from my husband can instantly calm me. If I’m not careful my anxiety had the potential to cripple me for the day, sending me to bed unable to cope with even the smallest task. I used to suffer panic attacks a few times a week, now I’ll notice them creep up a couple times a year, but I am quickly able to stop them with deep breathing and refocusing. It is comforting to know you’re not alone, that other moms battle the same issues. And hearing their solutions and stories of overcoming anxiety has brought me relief over the years. I enjoyed reading your blog today. :-)

    — Ana Hogan

  • Feb 08, 2014

    I would love to try some of your stuff, I’m very interested in your products! I think I deffinitely need a nightly ritual I have a very loving but wild 4 year old son and a 3 month old daughter. Every night is a challenge for us to get our son to bed , it takes us about an hour to get him to stay in bed and If daddy isn’t home forget it, he does not listen to me at all! eventually he goes down and quiet time begins where I can nurse baby and get her to bed. I love the idea of lighting an aromatherapy candle next to the bed while nursing baby deffinitely going to start this ritual tonight! Thank you!

    — Kristen

  • Feb 08, 2014

    This is a beautiful post, Heather. I still struggle daily with stresses and constantly striving to be perfect at everything I do. Ritual is important and it can be hard to implement with the busyness of our days. My goal this year is to allow myself some grace and self-appreciation. It is okay not to be perfect. It is okay to take some time for myself. Some small rituals that allow me to ground myself, even if just for a few minutes per day. Your new aromatherapy products sound lovely. xo

    — Misha

  • Feb 08, 2014

    Your post makes so much sense! Although I never consider myself someone who suffers from anxiety, I most certainly suffer from stress. Although I always think I am strong enough to handle it on my own, I have learned that I need to make time and de-stress/decompress myself, before I become the mom that no one wants. My children are older, ages 13 and 15, and let me tell you…. Although we think our lives are chaotic and crazy when they are toddlers, the stress of worrying about them grows as they grow. In this day and age, it is certainly a challenge to raise children, and of course teenagers complicate things even more. Unfortunately we live in a society where teenagers are exposed to social media, and are witness to some kids their age experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Whew, talk about stressful! As a mom, I pride myself on having taught my children right from wrong and given them a strong foundation on which to lean. Of course building that foundation can be stressful on mom! Throw into the mix all of life’s daily challenges, with working outside the home, financial stresses and the like, and one can easily become a gigantic stress ball!
    I too am a ritualistic person, starting and ending each day with a hot cup of tea and time to decompress. I am someone who needs to be exposed daily to nature, whether it is through feeding the birds and tending to my flock of backyard hens, or by enjoying my vegetable and flower gardens. These daily rituals are vital to my well being, as silly a s that may sound to some.
    I have recently discovered the healing powers of elderberries, and make my own elderberry elixir, as well as brew my own Kombucha. I strive to add new elements of health to my life, and the lives of my family each and everyday.
    I would love to test your new line of mama’s rituals essential oils and would happily share my feedback with you!

    — Laurie Dimino

  • Feb 08, 2014

    Loved reading your post. I am not a mother but love any and all ideas for stress relief. I agree that rituals play a very important role in quieting the mind. Through job stresses and graduate school studies in the past hot tea was a must for me. Looking forward to learning about your tea! Strangely enough simple cleaning can be a great stress reliever for me. The noise and repetition of running the vacuum cleaner for me can really help on bad days! I think it stems from the inability to fix some things but the complete ability to clean the floor! Instant results! I just tried your products this week! Amazing can’t wait to try more! Please pick someone else for the product samples! I know there is a mom out there more stressed than me!

    — Lee

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