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