Stress Management: 10 Tips For Working Mothers

December 6th, 2005

In my practice as a Hypnotherapist, I have many clients who come to me for Stress management. Many of those clients are working mothers who fret about the demands on their time: children, husband or partner, paid work and unpaid household chores all pull these women in different directions.

The day-to-day, constant small stressors leave them inadequate physical and emotional resources to deal with life’s BIG stressors, such as personal and family health issues, financial worries, etc. Frequently, these women lose any sense that they are entitled to some “me” time, and therein lies part of the solution to Stress relief.

Typically, one of the things that I teach these clients is self-Hypnosis. There are quite a few self-Hypnosis techniques that anyone can learn in order to manage Stress. But I also give my clients many practical tips to give themselves some Stress relief.

Here are 10 tips for Stress management that I frequently recommend:

  1. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Our bodies do so much restorative work while we sleep, and it’s harder to deal with emotional and physical Stress when we don’t have enough sleep. Additionally, nights of uninterrupted sleep are better than nights of interrupted sleep. So if you have very young children who wake you up each night (for feedings, diaper changes, etc.), try to share those duties with your husband or partner so that you get some nights of uninterrupted sleep. And don’t feel guilty about napping when you get the chance! The energetic demands on your body as a woman juggling numerous roles are enormous. The more you can cater to those energetic needs, the more resources you will have for dealing with life’s annoyances and real stressors.

  2. Prioritize and organize errands to minimize the running around time you have to do. You may need to plan a “route” that takes you to the post office, the dry cleaners, etc. once a week. And don’t fret if you forget to bring something with you – 99% of the time, it can wait until your next trip. Also, minimize the number of times you go to the supermarket by stocking up during fewer trips.

  3. Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to just sit by yourself and let your mind float. Turn the phones off, if possible. You can also listen to a Relaxation CD or a CD of your favorite music. Don’t Stress if you can’t achieve the “quiet mind” Buddhist monks can achieve. Just giving yourself some “down time” each day is a very important Stress management strategy. Treat this down time like you would treat brushing your teeth – as something you wouldn’t dream of skipping! You don’t have to necessarily do it at the same time each day, as long as you do it. Don’t feel guilty about giving yourself this time. Not only do you deserve it, it will keep you emotionally and physically healthier and better able to give yourself some Stress relief.

  4. In the back of your mind, keep some sort of mental scale for judging how stressful something is. I typically tell clients to think of some minor annoyance, and then think of the worst thing imaginable (or at least something truly BIG and stressful), and put each thing on opposite ends of the scale. Then when you feel Stressed, ask yourself which end of the scale the stressor is closer to. Most things fall much closer to the minor annoyance end of the scale, and this helps keep things in perspective. Perspective is a crucial tool for Stress management.

  5. Keep in mind a sense of your physical and emotional energetic resources as a discrete quantity. No one is a superhuman; everyone has limits. When you feel Stressed about something, or have the urge to react to something, ask yourself, “Is this worth spending my life’s energy on?”. Very often, the answer is “No,” and you can move on without wasting your time and energy on something that doesn’t amount to much.

  6. Learn the art of limited Procrastination. For example, if a letter from your insurance company arrives in the mail, and it tells you your car insurance premium is going up 300% in 60 days, put the letter aside. Very often, these sorts of things resolve themselves or become moot. You might get a letter in 3 days that says, “Whoops! We made a mistake!” and you would have gotten Stressed over nothing. Obviously, you don’t want to Procrastinate about everything, because that can lead to more Stress. But when something seems to demand your immediate attention, let it “age” for a couple of days. Or hand it to your husband, partner or other trusted person to take care of it. Stress management is made easier when we are willing to let others help us. There’s no need to be Super Woman!

  7. Plan nights out with your husband or partner or friend, so you two can have adult time together. Do this once a week or once every two weeks – whatever works for you. Then you have something special to look forward to, which makes it easier to deal with minor stresses and the endless demands on your time.

  8. Give your current work schedule some thought. You may ultimately decide that you want to keep or that you must keep your work schedule the same, but at least you will have given it some thought with regard to what’s healthiest for you to do at this time in your life. Sometimes we get caught up in the routine of everyday life, and we don’t always take the time to consider whether this routine is the optimal one for us. When we engage in Stress management strategies, we need to consider all aspects of our lives, including those that seem more or less set in stone, such as our work situation.

  9. Humor is a wonderful tool for Stress management. Get some funny DVDs (movies, animated TV shows, etc.) that you, alone or with someone else, can watch in small chunks of time.

  10. Exercise is also great for Stress relief. It’s a good way to blow off steam and get endorphins (feel-good hormones) flowing. If your life is so frantic that you hardly have time to think, no less Exercise, just keep it in mind or start in small ways right now. Some of my clients build a library of Exercise DVDs, which are great, because most of the DVDs have small segments (15 to 20 minutes) that can be done without taking a big chunk out of your day. Some of my other clients take a Yoga class or a Pilates class once a week, and it gives them something to look forward to. Exercise should be something you do as part of your overall “taking care of me” strategy.

If you implement some or all of these Stress management tips, you will find that your day-to-day Stress level can be significantly reduced. That will leave you with the maximum resources for dealing with life’s “big stressors.”

About the author

Loretta Sernekos, Ph.D., is a Certified Hypnotherapist in private practice in Cherry Hill, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. You can visit her Hypnosis practice website at http://sghypnosis.com for more information and audio podcasts.

Natural Laundry Stain Stick

December 6th, 2005

Ingredients:

Directions

Melt oils together and let temps cool. Mix in lye/water and stir until trace, add Essential Oils and pour into molds. (Note- this will harden much much faster than a basic CP recipe due to the high percentage of hard oils….I was able to cut in 5 hours after pouring.) Let cure normal time. To use wet stick and stain to be laundered and apply a little elbow grease, wash as usual.

Herbal Preparation Methods

December 6th, 2005

WATER PREPARATIONS:

Herbs (and nearly all patent medicines as well) work quickest in fluid-filled spaces of the body: hence they are not as effective for bone or cartilidge ailments. Water is, in general, a very good solvent for many of the herb’s properties, but water will not dissolve resins or oils.

Suspended Cold Infusions:

A density-based convection cell is set up–good for leaves, flowers, slimy or mucilaginous roots and barks. This method preserves volatiles & mucopolysaccharides: (Ex.: Althea, Comfrey, Echinacea, slippery Elm bark) Mucopolysaccharides are soothing to mucosa, stimulate Tcell multiplication, are used in poultices, good for Sore Throat, UTIs, upset stomach: 1/2 to 1 oz. Herbs to quart jar.

Hot Infusions:

Use glass, enamel, stainless steel, or ceramic containers. Boil water, turn off heat, Infuse Herbs in covered container. 1 tsp/cup dried herb (or 2 TBL/cup fresh herb) from 5 min.- 10 min for Chamomile, mint, or beverage Teas (tisanes) 1/2 oz to 1 oz. in 1 pt. to 1 qt. water from 30 mins to overnight for medicinal strength Teas. (Ex: Valerian root, Mint, Pau d’Arco; For Fennel and chamomile: a few teaspoons are OK.; no long infusions for Chamomile or it turns bitter.) It is sensible to make a day’s supply at one time; usually about a quart.

*Susun Weed:’s tisanes are 1 tsp./cup; infusions are medicinal strength at the following concentrations: roots and barks: 1 oz/pint/8 hours; leaves, hips/haws: 1 oz/qt/4hours; seeds/flowers: 1 oz/qt/ 30 min to 2 hours– except Chamomile, which gets bitter after 30 min.

Dosage: 2 cup/day-over 125 lbs.; 1 cup/day–65-75 lbs, 1/2 c/day–30-40 lbs, 1/4 c/day– 15-20 lbs.

Decoctions:

Use for Roots, Barks, or Seeds unless they are aromatic. (If aromatic, such as Fennel, an infusion is better. Goldenseal and Valerian, although roots, are high in volatiles, and are best as infusions., but both taste awful, so you may prefer pills or tinctures.) Put herb in cool water, cover, simmer for 20 minutes (minimum) to 1 hour, let sit covered for one hour to overnight. You can decoct the same batch of Herbs several times, adding a little fresh herb mixture each time to maintain the strength. You can decoct, turn the heat off, and then add Herbs to be infused to a tightly covered container, if you have a mixture that needs both decoction and infusion techniques.

*Susun Weed’s method is unusual: She begins her decoctions with strained infusions, and reduces them by 1/2 for a single or simple decoction, (4x as strong as an infusion); reduced to 1/4 for a double decotion (16x as strong as an infusion).

Dosage: single: 1/4 c. adult, 1 TBL infant; double: 1TBL/day adult, 1/2 tsp/day, infant.

Inhalations:

Boil water. Take kettle off heat. Pour hot water over Herbs in a ceramic or glass bowl, and when cool enough to do so, inhale the herbal steam with a towel covering your head, forming a tent over the bowl. One can put a paper bag over the bowl with a hole to inhale through. Facial steams are great for the complexion, Sinusitis, upper respiratory complaints and Allergies. These are heating therapies which speed up the heart rate, stimulate flushing and sweat, etc.–They should be used only by those who have some reserves of strength. (Ex: Euclaytus, Sage:-mild antiinflamatory, decongestant, antiviral)

Make “Card Table Sweat Lodge” by covering a card table with plastic or blankets, and placing an electric hot plate with a boiling kettle inside– but be careful !!

Poultice:

mashed, usually warm, Herbs on skin. Fomentation: a compress made of a cloth dipped in a strong tea. Herbal Baths: Many 19th century water cures and spas had ties with the feminist lecture circuit.

Baths have physiologic & psychologic effects. Bathe with a giant “teabag” to avoid clogging drain with loose Herbs. Combine herbs: for example, a warm Lavender bath with a cool Rosemary washcloth on forehead. Foot, Hand, or Sitz

Baths:

Chamomile , Rosemary and Ginger for tired feet: end with foot massage.

Also: soaks, enemas, douches, eyewashes are possible. Boil any substance which is entering a body orifice other than the mouth, let cool to body temperature. Important safety note to avoid amebic keratoconjunctivitis: If making eyewash, always use freshly-boiled water for each dose! Discard any excess and make new eyewash from scratch for each dose.

HERBAL EXTRACTIONS: (Tinctures, liniments, vinegars, essences, glycerates)

Alcoholic tinctures preserve virtues of the herb for a long time, are easy to carry, are excellent for Herbs which go bad or lose their potency easily, and are best for rare plants–Due to better medicinal extraction, they are more concentrated, with less waste. Shelf life is 1 year to a few centuries. The alcohol can be vaporized with hot water if the person taking the tincture does not want to ingest alcohol. Vinegar or Glycerin extracts are not as strong, are more difficult to make, don’t work as well in extracting medicinal properties, don’t work at all for resins, and herbal vinegars last longer refrigerated.

Menstruum Proportions:

To each oz. by weight of plant material, 2 ozs. of alcohol by volume. Ex: 1oz wt plant: 2ozs EtOH vol. / 20gms plant: 40ml alcohol (*Susun Weed recommends 1 oz dried herb to 5 oz spirit, or 1 oz fresh herb to 1 oz spirit) Use 195 proof (97.05%) EVERCLEAR (Grana de Puro) if available. (see below for additional comments if not)

Maceration:

Herbs sitting in Alcohol 10d.–> 1yr. OK to use whole plants, but more surface area if crushed or cut. If crushed, may also leach insolublessuch as plant waxes, into tincture — won’t hurt anything, but clouds the tincture. (Ex: Yerba Santa) Good to keep in a warm place — on top of refrigerator is good. Shake daily for two weeks. The leftover strained mash is called “marc.” (*Susun Weed suggests average of six weeks’ maceration time: put up at new moon, and decant at second full moon.)Some plants require FRESH tinctures (Ex: Avena, Lamiaceae) and some require dried or aged Herbs (Ex: Cascara Sagrada.) Consult reputable herbalists or their books for guidance.

If using weaker alcohol than EVERCLEAR: (Ex: 100 proof vodka): Blend Alcohol and herb together in a blender, then shake each day for two weeks.Dry Plant Tinctures: One can buy or make special percolation glasses, which will speed up the extraction: instead of two weeks, the percolators will result in tinctures finished in 1/2 to 2 days.

So far, I have no experience with these.1 oz herb, freshly powdered in blender –best NOT prepowdered too long in advance, as they dry out too fast. A quart Mason Jar fits the Osterizer blender, which is the herbalist’s favorite! Proportion: 1 part by weight to 5 parts by volume (except Cayenne: 1 part to 10 parts alcohol) Shake each day for two weeks, or blend it for FIVE minutes. BE SURE TO LABEL AND DATE IT!!

(For one class, we each made one quart of a tincture, and when it was completed, we divided it into 1 oz. dropper bottles to share. This way we each made just one tincture, but we each got a collection of tinctures in dropper-bottles to take home.)

For more dilute alcohol: (100 proof = 50% EtOH)

Some plants do better extractions with less than 100% EtOH, for example: skullcap: 50%; Goldenseal, osha, black cohosh: 65-70% but 100% for cayenne, Myrrh. Tinctures made with rubbing alcohol are LINIMENTS. EXTERNAL USE ONLY. Liniments can be made with edible alcohol, and then can be used internally or externally. (Ex: Arnica)

Flower Essences:

A magical remedy, like the dew–flower essences work on energetic and psychic levels. Pick flowers without touching the Petals with your hands–you can use the plant’s own leaves. Some people prefer crystal bowls for the solar infusion, and cut the flowers with magical knives or Crystals. The Solar Infusion, preserved with brandy, gives a “Mother Tincture.”

Use four drops of Mother Tincture or several Mother Tinctures, to make a treatment bottle, then fill bottle most of the way with spring water, then preserve with brandy. You can use flavored brandies if you like! You can ingest drops, apply topically, bathe in it, or sprinkle it on your Senator’s doorstep. Usually flower essences are taken at least four times a day plus as needed to deal with psychological and spiritual issues, often while reciting affirmations focussing on the issue. Used in this way, they do help to re-train the subconscious mind and communicate with the animal-self or unihipili.

Glycerates:

Equal parts Glycerin and water, or 60% glycerin: 40% water. Use to extract Herbs; but won’t extract resins very well. Vegetable glycerins are best for vegetarian use; animal glycerins will warm the skin if you rub it on and then blow on it; Rosemary Gladstar claims that animal Glycerin is for cosmetic, not internal use.

People sometimes prefer glycerates for children and alcoholics.Herbal vinegars are also a way to extract plants. Chop the herb finely, and pour warmed apple cider vinegar over it to cover it, plus a few inches more, to allow for herb swelling. Macerate for 4-6 weeks. Shake extracts daily. Strain and press extract, and rebottle. They should be refrigerated between uses since they can mold–the acidity of the vingar has been decreased by plant fluids released into the vinegar.

Plant Oils:

2 ozs. herb: 1 cup oil The wetter and juicier the plants, the more danger of rancidity. Can be placed in the sun, or in sandboxes heated by the sun. You can also extract Herbs into oil in a double boiler, crock pot, or in mason jars in a water bath in the oven at very low heat for several (2-4) hours. LOW HEAT is best!! Rosemary Gladstar relates that an “electric oven roaster” can macerate an herbal oil for 2-4 weeks, giving a dark green herbal oil. Olive, almond, or Jojoba oils are the usual solvents–(Ex: Rose and Lavender oil, Mugwort oil, St. John’s oil, Mullein oil, Comfrey & Calendula oil.)

Steep the plant (usually fresh but wilted to decrease water content) in oil–jar must be full–no air and little moisture, or it will go rancid. Some herbalists recommend wiping the jar’s headroom with a cloth or tissue each day, and topping off with oil. Remove any water that collects below the oil with a turkey baster or siphon. Do not mix oils that are pressed or expressed with those that are simply strained without pressing. The pressed oils will be more likely to spoil, as they will have more water, microbes, and sediment. Pressed oil portions should be used up quickly, and it is wise to store them refrigerated.

VERSION 1:

Tap jar each day and top off with more oil if needed. Let the oil sit–water will sink to the bottom. Use a turkey baster to withdraw top oil temporarily, then discard water & oil near the bottom. Let sit 2-3 weeks, then strain out Herbs–DO NOT squeeze!

VERSION 2:

Powder herb and moisten with pure grain alcohol as an “Intermediary solvent extraction”. Let sit, covered, 20 min to 1 hour, then blend in blender: 1 oz Herb/EtOH/ 6 oz. Oil Blend until mixture becomes warm, then blend a little more. Strain through cloth. To get rid of alcohol: put in jellyroll pan, and put in oven with pilot light on, or on radiator (less than 150 degrees), or place fans blowing over jellyroll pan for 4-8 hours.Can restrain to get particles out, or use turkey baster when particles have settled. Some add vitamin E or tincture of Benzoin (1 tsp tincture of Benzoin per qt. oil) against rancidity. Store excess in refrigerator.

SALVE:

PER 1 CUP OIL, ADD 2 OZ. BY VOLUME OF BEESWAX, or: 1 part wax: 4 parts oil. (*Susun Weed suggests 1 TBL beeswax per 1 oz (2 TBL)oil, or 1 part wax: 2 parts oil.) The wax is a stiffener, and some people prefer softer salves. (Recipe example: Yarrow, chickweed, dock, Plantain, Calendula, Comfrey, St. John’s wort oil, vit. E, Essential Oil like thuja or Tea Tree, Myrrh or usnea tinctures.) Olive Oil and Herbs in double boiler; simmer 30 min to one hour (also gets rid of water) strain, add wax. Spoon test: dip spoon in hot salve, cool in refrigerator or freezer to test texture. You can use a turkey baster to pour into small tins.

Adam Seller starts with a ready-made green oil too: blend oil with wilted Comfrey leaves until green, strain, use this as your starting oil. Makes a rich green salve.

PILLS:

Powdered Herbs can be moistened with water & honey or maple syrup to form a sticky paste. Add a drop of Essential Oil (Orange, Peppermint, Wintergreen) and mix in well, but too much Essential Oil can ruin the mixture. Thicken with slippery elm powder, and knead until it becomes the texture of bread dough. Roll into small balls. They can be dusted with carob or slippery elm powder, if desired. Place on a cookie sheet and dry in a very low oven or the sun.

CAPSULES:

If you don’t have an encapsulating machine, this method works well for small numbers of pills. Since powdered Herbs dry out quickly and lose their virtues, you should probably make small batches anyway. Powder the Herbs, and place in a bowl or shallow plate. Fill separated caps by “grinding” the open halves gently into a pile of powdered Herbs. Place the two ends of the capsule together. Two “00″ caps are a standard adult dose, and the “00″ size is used in most encapsulating machines. One oz. of powdered herb fills about 30 capsules..

SYRUPS:

Syrups sweeten bitter Herbs, preserve the mixture from spoiling, and soothe a Sore Throat. Ex: COUGH SYRUP: Decoct the 2-4 ozs of the following Herbs with a quart of water, reduce by one-half: to one pint. Mullein, horehound, pleurisy root, wild cherry bark, Orange peel. Strain out Herbs, add yerba santa tincture, and lobelia tincture. Then dissolve in 1 pint honey or simple syrup (preserves, sweetens, soothes throat.) When cooled, add Peppermint, Wintergreen, Orange, or Eucalyptus Essential Oils. Some people like to add brandy (3-4TBL /cup) or a fruit Concentrate. Best to store refrigerated.

*Susun Weed: To one cup fluid, use 8 oz sugar or 4oz honey; OPT: 15 ml or 1 TBL Brandy. Dose: 1 tsp up to eight times per day for adults; 1/2 tsp up to 8 times/day, kids 60-75 lbs., 1/4 tsp. up to 8 times/day, for infants less than 30 lbs. (Safety warning: do not give infants honey–they can get botulism from bacterial spores in the honey.)



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