Above: A picture of my passionflower vine in full bloom. A tincture or tea from the vine is helpful for when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It is also an effective remedy for insomnia.
It’s only human to experience moments of anxiety, frustration, and anger during times like these. It is not natural to be trapped indoors for an indefinite amount of time. Time outdoors and communing with others is a basic human need that isn’t being met for many.
On top of all this, many are out of jobs, causing a financial strain. There are also many parents who have been thrust into homeschooling and feel overwhelmed as they try to figure out how to teach their children while working at their essential job.
No doubt, we have all been affected by COVID-19 in some way.
For me personally, the main struggle has been teaching my oldest son. I taught English in public school for ten years and my nine-year-old son is definitely more of a challenge than any student I ever had over the course of my tenure as an English instructor. He is incredibly intelligent, but stubborn like his mom!
I notice myself having a shorter fuse than normal some days. The underlying anxiety, fears and “what ifs” are mingling with the every day frustrations of homeschooling, taking care of the farm, working, etc. These feelings are manifesting themselves through frustration and anger for me.
Thankfully, I have a few tried and true remedies that have helped me wind down after those especially challenging homeschooling moments, caring for sick lambs on the farm, and/or worrying about the future of our world. Below are a few of my personal favorites and reasons why I love them:
Motherwort for Frustration and Anxiety
Motherwort is my friend. I discovered her healing attributes a few years ago and have kept her in my medicine cabinet ever since. I love motherwort tincture for times when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. For me, she works quickly and gently. Five drops in a small glass of water can help get me grounded. I feel the frustration just melt away.
Skullcap for Frazzled Nerves
For me, skullcap seems to calm my nerves and lower stress. A great time to take skullcap is when you feel like you are snapping more than usual or need a mental break. Skullcap is a wonderful nervine that can ease tension and soothe the nervous system. I take a dropper-full of skullcap tincture up to three times a day for these purposes.
Valerian for Calming the Inner Storm
Of all my remedies, a tincture made with Valerian root is probably my favorite for anxiety and stress. It is really coming in handy right now! I planted some Valerian seeds in a field on my property a few years ago and harvested roots last year. They do not smell pleasant. I think they smell like dirty feet to be honest. That said, I could care less how it smells when it works as well as it does. Valerian has been shown to help maintain serotonin and norepinephrine in two specific brain regions that are associated with fear and anxiety. It seems to work speedily and on top of that, if I take it before bedtime, it helps me sleep much better. This plant is often used by those wishing to ease their insomnia because it increases GABA, an important sedative neurotransmitter. I will also say that if I take ten drops during the day, this does not make me super sleepy, but rather helps me relax. If you are wishing to take Valerian to sleep, try taking ten to twenty drops of the tincture around thirty minutes before bedtime.
Above: A Valerian plant harvested from my farm. I utilize the roots in a remedy for anxiety.
More Herbs for Anxiety, Stress, and Frustration
Here is a list of additional herbs that may help reduce anxiety and all the negative feelings that come with it:
Lemon Balm – lemon balm isn’t just a wonderfully flavorful and aromatic plant, it tastes great too! I love to drink the dried leaves in tea to help unwind and de-stress.
Chamomile or Pineapple Weed – Chamomile is well-known for its calming and soothing properties, so its a great choice if you are seeking a safe way to calm down and relax. If you are a classic over-thinker who tosses and turns at night while wide awake, drink a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime to promote peaceful sleep. If you didn’t plant chamomile in your garden this year, no worries! Pineapple weed is a close relative to chamomile with many of the same soothing properties. It grows wild in rocky soil in many regions of North America. It looks like chamomile, but has no petals. It smells like pineapple and tastes wonderful in tea!
Passionflower – This is one of the prettiest flowers I have ever seen in my life. Looking like they came straight out of a fairy tale, passionflowers grow on a vine that can get quite out of control if you let them. I wish my passionflower vines would get out of control though, because these gorgeous plants are a wonderfully effective remedy for calming anxiety. Oftentimes, herbalists will prescribe passionflower in remedies for sleep, but the sedative properties of passionflower are also beneficial for when you are feeling overwhelmed. I tincture the chopped vine in alcohol and take a dropper-full as needed for anxiety and stress.
Ashwagandha – This adaptogenic plant has been an important part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Adaptogens are thought to help bring balance to the body where it needs it the most. Ashwagandha may help to balance and regulate certain hormones and metabolic functions to help the body respond to stress and anxiety better.
Essential Oils for Stress, Anxiety, and Anger
There are many essential oils that can combat stress, as well as many ways to use them! Below are some of my favorite essential oils and how I like to use them to vanquish stress and anxiety:
Lavender – Lavender essential oil has been studied extensively for its ability to calm the body and mind. It has not only been proven to reduce stress, but also to lower blood pressure. This is one essential oil everyone should have in their medicine cabinet. From helping to heal wounds to promoting peaceful sleep – and everything in between – lavender is one of the most versatile essential oils one can own. One of my favorite ways to benefit from lavender is diffusing it after a long day to relax.
Cedarwood – Like lavender, cedarwood is great for promoting calmness and helping to quiet inner restlessness. It has a soothing, grounding aroma. One way we use cedarwood is to diffuse it with lavender in the boy’s rooms when they are having a hard time sleeping or had a bad dream. It helps them fall back asleep and stay asleep. Both cedarwood and lavender are gentle enough to use around children with very few reported side effects.
Frankincense – This powerful essential oil isn’t just amazing for scar and skin care, it is also extremely grounding. Frankincense has a deep, resinous aroma and can help to clear the mind and promote inner peace. I like to add a drop or two to my aromatherapy inhaler to have on hand for times when I need to clear my head and find balance. Myrrh and patchouli have a similar effect.
Bergamot – This pleasant citrus essential oil can lift the spirits and calm a restless mind. Bergamot is useful for those with mild depression, and can help to promote feelings of optimism. I like to blend it with lavender for an especially calming experience.
Citrus Oils – If you are wanting to put yourself in a better mood, one great way to do this is to diffuse citrus essential oils. Their bright, vibrant aromas are sure to dispel anger, frustration, and anxiety. Whether it is lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime, these oils almost seem to pick me up and take me to the beach wherever I am!
Vetiver – This thick, almost syrupy essential oil is taken from the roots of the vetiver plant. Vetiver has long been known to help calm the body and mind. I have personally utilized this oil to help my oldest son focus and stay calm during stressful times. Putting a drop or two on his little lava stone necklace was really effective and I didn’t have to actually put any of the oil on him. It has a deep, earthy aroma.
Valerian – I have already mentioned that I utilize valerian in tincture form for anxiety, but valerian essential oil can also be purchased. A little goes a long way! The smell is not something one would consider pleasant. It is pungent and very earthy. I would never use more than one to three drops in most blends. It blends well with frankincense, patchouli, vetiver, lavender, and cedarwood. It can help tremendously if you are wanting something to help you sleep. Try blending a drop or two of valerian with three to four drops of vetiver in a 10ml roller bottle. (Adding four to five drops of cedarwood to this can be very beneficial as well). Fill the bottle the rest of the way with the carrier oil of your choice. Apply this to the back of your neck and wrists thirty minutes before bedtime to help quiet the mind and promote sleep.
Anger Antidote Bath Soak Recipe
I added one of my favorite remedies for anger and frustration to my newest book, “Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Healing.” It is simply called the Anger Antidote Bath Soak. When I am feeling negative emotions, one of the best ways I can get rid of these is to soak in a bath with this blend:
1 Tbsp carrier oil of your choice or unscented liquid castile soap
8 drops bergamot essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops patchouli essential oil
1 cup Epsom salts
Medium mixing bowl & spoon to stir
Directions: Pour the carrier oil/liquid castile soap into the mixing bowl. Add the essential oils to the oil/soap and blend this well. Add the Epsom salts and stir everything together well. Pour the contents into a warm bath and let the mixture dissolve. Soak for at least 20 minutes to take advantage of the emotional support these oils can offer.
For even more powerful and effective remedies to heal the body, mind, and spirit, preorder my book here: Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Healing: 120 Remedies to Restore Mind, Body, and Spirit
Sometimes, herbs or essential oils are not the answer to the problem. If you are having trouble consistently, try sharing your feelings with someone who will listen. You may be surprised how much better you feel when you have the chance to get things off your chest. If you are feeling overwhelmed, get away for a few minutes if you can. You don’t have to go far: soak in a bath, sit on your back porch, soak up the sun in your back yard for a few minutes…these things can give you a few moments of peace and help to recharge your spirit. One thing that really helps me is getting out in nature. I make it a point to take the boys on a long walk around our farm almost daily. The fresh air, sunshine, and gorgeous sights are enough to lift anyone’s spirits. Exercise, whether it is yoga or a walk in nature, has been shown to lift the spirits and elevate the mood. Discover a new hobby. What is something you have been wanting to do or learn? Perhaps now is the time to take that online class or learn to paint! These are just a few ways you can practice self-care during these times.
If you are interested in learning more about herbs and essential oils, enroll in The Bitter Herb Academy today! The Bitter Herb Academy
Many blessings to you and yours,
Amber Robinson, RH(AHG)