My Natural Ways to Fight Stress and Find Balance
I've been talking about stress, burnout, adrenal fatigue and their effects on me personally in previous blog posts, and the importance of putting your health first, tuning into your symptoms and expanding your awareness around what's right for you.
It's been quite the road, my journey to here. I was talking with a friend recently, she asked me for my tips on slowing down, and what worked / triggered the change from go-go-go Taline of the past to the more chilled, surrendered Taline she knows today. I couldn't give her an answer right away. It sort of stumped me.
When I thought back to the process, I remembered all the little baby steps, the many practices and rituals that I incorporated and how they added up to create major shifts in my life.
So I went on about it for a bit, and realised that there's more that needs to be said. With so many invaluable practices, it wouldn't do the journey justice to come up with a quick response. For me, of course, there's a cathartic process that takes place whenever I put pen to paper and write my thoughts, feelings and experiences on paper. Writing this way reminds me to re-prioritise and to reignite rituals and practices that may have slipped. But also, I love to write for you. As I read your responses and learn that my sharing assists you in not only finding your voice, but also in inspiring change, I find meaning in my work, and an alignment in my personal and professional goals and this really lights me up.
So I thought I would let you in on my trusted remedies and healing practices that have helped me significantly reduce the effects of stress in my life. Some of these are obvious, some are not - and all are absolutely essential in my selfcare toolkit, in keeping myself grounded, balanced and whole.
Finding balance and deeper meaning has been my personal goal since 2016, and I feel that with each day, and week and month that passes, I am getting closer to where I want to be. The destination is definitely an internal route, a quiet and personal odyssey that doesn't involve or rely upon external recognition, gratification or accolades. Yet, it's the most rewarding journey I have ever taken.
What I have learned in the process is that there are lots of simple and effective practices that you can incorporate to help drop into a stress-free zone. The more you practice them, the more benefits you get. And the more you make self care a part of your everyday life, the richer your quality of life.
I've written quite extensively in previous blog posts on self care, outlining gentle activities, exercises, healthy habits and mindfulness practices that can help you slow down and chill. I won't go over those here but will point out that if you're new to my blog and want to start somewhere, these basic practices are a great starting point.
What I will cover in this post is what has helped me recover my health. I am sharing my detailed healing practices that I believe are at the heart of my recovery.
Seek an Expert
At the very top of my list when it comes to sorting out my health and finding balance was getting comprehensive blood tests done and working out that I had genetic conditions that required addressing.
I feel very strongly about this, as no amount of self care or meditating is going to get to the root of your problem if you have underlying health conditions that you are unaware of.
To cut a long story short, I am a natural-born high achiever. A worrier at heart, prone to anxiety and with perfectionist tendencies. I thought this was simply a personality trait for much of my life, until I got to my twenties and dealt with many years of panic and anxiety which led to adrenal fatigue aka burnout by age 25. I intuitively knew there was more to it, but every time I would seek advice of a doctor (gp) or naturopath, I would get no answers.
When I failed to fall pregnant, I found an integrative practitioner that ran some alternative medical tests that finally resulted in some answers. It revealed that I had a heap of food intolerances based on gut issues and hormonal imbalances that were primarily due to having stage 4 (advanced stage) adrenal fatigue. The most revealing of all the findings was that the adrenal fatigue aka burnout, wasn't completely caused by me or my lifestyle.
I learnt that I had a condition called Pyrolles, a pretty common chemical imbalance, that had been literally running my life. Pyrolles effectively robs the body of vital nutrients in large amounts, leading to nutritional imbalances and mental health issues. Yep, the anxiety in my 20's was real.
I also learnt that I was an undermethylator. Methylation is a biochemical process used throughout the body like little light switches for turning on DNA, producing energy, regulating hormones, detoxification, synthesizing neurotransmitters, and more. Undermethylation occurs when you don't have enough methyl groups to switch on certain processes. Most people methylate properly but if you don't, you’re going to feel it. Irritabilty and nervousness is often felt, due to low levels of serotonin and dopamine (feel good chemicals) which are in short supply.
These investigations, which were very scary initially, led me on a long (and rewarding) journey that helped me to understand my biochemistry and to effectively manage my health.
A change in diet which included more good fats and protein, a commitment to a gluten free, dairy free organic whole food diet (more on this here) and a supplementation of a range of activated vitamin Bs, zinc, vitamin c, and magnesium, was required to rebalance my burned out system and finally got me out of the depths of my dead-end adrenal-insufficiency cycle.
I continue to supplement and probably always will. I have written a whole post in detail on pyrolles, undermethylation, adrenal fatigue and my personal health journey here. If you feel like there's more to it for you, seek the advice of a recommended professional.
Aromatherapy / Oils / Candles
I'm a huge believer in all things aromatherapy - all the beautiful natural essential oils, the gorgeous scents, the incredible effect they have and the loving comforting feeling they bring me.
Little evidence-based research is available on aromatherapy, and to be honest, I'm not looking for external evidence to prove what I already know inside - how full of vitality I feel when I am under the effects of powerful essential oils and their healing power.
For those who like some scientific evidence, the studies that have been conducted, have shown the many benefits, like:
- Preliminary research shows that aromatherapy can alter brain waves and behaviour.
- Essential oils can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.”
- Lavender has been shown to reduce crying in infants and promote sleep in infants and adults.
- Aromatherapy massage can have beneficial effects on anxiety and depression.
- Massage with aromatherapy provides stronger and more continuous relief from fatigue—especially mental fatigue—than massage alone.
If you haven't started on essential oils, I encourage you to. There are many oils that assist with stress and anxiety, including lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, clary sage, chamomile, lemon balm, neroli, rose, holy basil, and many more.
I will say, I did find it daunting when I first started experimenting with oils simply because of the long list of oils available and my eagerness to try them all, and to create beautiful soothing blends. I likened it to recipe creating - the process of combining ingredients to create something that nourishes you from the inside out. I add essential oils to my recipes too. I use basil oil in place of basil leaves when cooking pasta sauce, and peppermint and orange oils in my low sugar treats.
My advice for beginners is less is more. Start slowly. Whether it's for recipes, applying to your body or to the diffuser. Be sure you combine oils with a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond when applying to your skin. When using essential oils for babies, children, or during pregnancy, be sure you do your research to ensure that the oils you intend to use are suitable and that you using the correct dose.
Essential oil sprays, and aromatherapy candles are an amazing way to incorporate aromatherapy in your practice. I have a little obsession with candles. I think I have tried almost every candle that exists ( seriously ) and what I noticed was that there are A LOT of candles on the market, many that look good with cool text and labels, but very few tick all the boxes. Soy candles are everywhere, which is a great starting point, but the issue that I was having were the ingredients within the candle, and the fragrances that compromise the integrity of the product. Artificial fragrances don't do it for me.
The one brand that I was fond of, that were using purely essential oils with no artificial fragrances, ended up closing up production so I was left with a love for candles, but no candle that met my feel-good expectations. That was until I met my out-of-this-world energetic healer, who creates magic with oils like no other, and realised an opportunity to create something incredible. Yes, I have something in store for you. MORE ON THIS SOON...and here's a little sneak peek!
Lighting a naturally fragranced essential oil candle is probably one of the simplest ways to scent up a room naturally and create the ideal, softly lit atmosphere conducive for self care. I use my Love + Connect candle (one of the four blends coming to Hippie Lane), which is energised with healing mantras, created and blended during the full moon phase, and infused with botanicals, essential oils and crystals (think rose quartz and aventurine), just before bedtime, as it helps me to drop down into my heart and allows me to switch off from rational work mode to a more loving, open-heart space.
When I was growing my business, I found it hard to be everything. It was almost impossible to switch off at night, and it was in my relationship with my husband that I felt it most. There were long periods where I didn't really feel like getting loved up. There were too many things going on - the situations with my adrenals not only effected my energy levels but also played havoc with my hormones, which meant I had very little desire to get in the sheets. Add to that postpartum hormonal shifts, the years of breastfeeding, lack of me-time, growing Hippie Lane + the demands of raising young children, and I was left with very little desire to take it there. This is quite a contrast to how I feel when I am balanced and well, so I felt it, brutally.
With greater self awareness which comes with slowing down the pace and living mindfully, I was able to step out of the fog that had me in doing mode, and step into the peace and quiet of simply being. This has been so rewarding, as it allowed me to see things clearly. And with new insights, I realised I was missing out on the most beautiful moments in life.
When I use my oils and candles, they shift me in ways that I can't express. I am more open to give love, and more receptive to receiving it. We are more deeply intimate with one another now, after 13 years of marriage, than we ever have been. We are in such a beautifully fulfilling point in our relationship, my heart beats faster just thinking about it. This has been a huge bonus of slowing down.
Run yourself a bath and release all tension. It's hard to hold on to stress or tension when you're submerged in a bathtub of warm water. Increasing your body temperature has been shown to help regulate mood and anxiety. Making it an Epsom salt bath takes it up a notch, as the magnesium sulfate in the salts has been shown to calm anxiety and lower blood pressure.
A soak in an Epsom salt bath will help replenish blood magnesium levels directly via the skin, helping to relax muscles, reduce cramping and spasms, restore red blood cells and reduce inflammation. This can help alleviate stress headaches and calm tense joints and muscles.
Adding essential oils like rose, lavender or frankincense to the mix, will up the peace loving vibes and stress busting factor. Take your time, read your favourite a book, light an aromatherapy crystal candle, and notice your tension slip away.
I take time to practice stillness in the bath. I find I go deeper. I'm literally counting down the months till we move into our new home so I can start having regular bath sessions again. It couldn't come any sooner.
Herbs and Adaptogens
The term adaptogen, for those new to these trending plants, refers to a group of nontoxic plants, namely herbs and roots, that have long been used in Eastern and Ayurvedic healing traditions and are believed to assist the body to handle stress better. They are considered a safe and powerful treatment for stress and hormonal imbalances as they have a balancing effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis. This axis is known as the delicate link between your brain and hormone system.
Adaptogens work by harmonising the balance between your brain-adrenal (HPA) axis, brain-thyroid (HPT) and brain-gonadal axis (HPG) which work in unison for stablising mood, metabolism, energy, immune system, and sex drive.
I started with Chinese herbs and adaptogens at least a decade ago. At that time. I was seeing an acupuncturist twice per week to help me with fertility and to manage my adrenal health. I took herbals daily, along with my treatments, and fell pregnant with both my children within 3 months of treatment.This was after 18 months of infertility for each child. I get goosebumps thinking about the moment(s) I found out I was pregnant. It's hard to describe the joy I felt.
I continued with acupuncture throughout both my pregnancies, and continued herbals during breastfeeding to help with milk supply. Adrenally insufficient mothers can have issues with milk supply, as I did with my first born. By the time I had Camille, my number two, my supply was strong and I felt more energetic. I believe this was a combination of my body knowing what to do second time round, and the support of herbals throughout. Herbal teas that include anise, fennel, fenugreek, lemon verbena and caraway are incredible for milk supply. Weleda do a great nursing tea, for the mums out there struggling with supply.
Adaptogens and herbs have since become a staple for me, as I continue to build my adrenals from the ground up.
Daily supplementation assists me in strengthening my body’s response to stress and my ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue in a gentle, user friendly and effective way. They give me a surge of energy and help to balance my mood - and I feel so good taking them, knowing I am nourishing my body and reaping their natural heath-giving benefits.
There are a lot of herbs and adaptogens out there, so again, this is another situation where you can feel overwhelmed with the overload of options available and buckle under the pressure of it all. I felt this way originally. What I found challenging was finding a formula that felt right for me. I knew I wanted a variety of adaptogens, not singles, and I wanted the assurance that they were organic, high quality, effective and that the herbs and adaptogens worked in synergy to offer me the healing I so desperately needed.
Each adaptogen acts a little differently, so a mix of powerful favourites that include at least 7-8 varieties is what I wanted to create. I knew the power of ancient herbs, as I witnessed it first hand on my road to fertility and in supporting my endurance through motherhood. If I was going to commit, I wanted to invest in the best of the best. So, I called upon the expertise of a local and reputable herbalist and master formulator, and we got to work to create my own blends.
Together, we talked at length about the objective of each formula and why I (and you) needed this next level product. We discussed herbs, quality, blending, pricing and practicality which led to the development of two most beautiful blends: a morning 'dusk' blend, and a 'dawn' night blend, one for increased daily energy and adrenal support and the other for restful sleep and a calming of the mind and nervous system. A little each day and night goes a long way and has really and truly helped me find my mojo and regain my libido (gosh thank you) as they work to recalibrate your adrenal and hormonal system.
I add a 1/2 -1 tsp of my custom DUSK formula to my matcha mix each morning. They don't taste great on their own, but when combined with other ingredients and are whizzed into a latte, you won't even notice. I usually have my DAWN formula with a herbal chai in the evening. I find it helps me into a deep and restful sleep, and my body literally loves me for it.
Kava root, liquorice, valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, astragalus and st johns wart are some powerful natural herbs to get into your treatment protocol. We have included many of these into the Hippie Lane Dawn and Dusk powders, in addition to potent adapatogens like reishi, rhodiola, ashwaghandha, and tulsi (otherwise known as holy basil).
We're in the process of creating larger batches for you, I'll keep you posted!
Crystals are not only incredibly beautiful to look at, but are also are powerful tool in healing, calming and relieving stress. Crystals and stones can help you on your way to finding peace and calm due to the healing frequency that they omit. By combining the soothing frequencies of crystals with meditation, stillness practice, deep breathing and yoga, you create the ideal conditions for healing on all levels.
Meditating with crystals helps you connect with their high vibrational frequencies, which can open up your chakras to a deeper level of healing.
There are many different varieties of crystals that help to relieve anxiety and stress. My go-to's for stress relief are Black Tourmaline and Amethyst as well as Sodalite, Selenite, Lepidolite, Danburite, Shungite, and Fluorite, to name a few.
Black Tourmaline is a high-frequency crystal that helps neutralize and clear negative energies. It protects you from harmful vibrations so it's perfect for cleansing your space. One of the Hippie Lane candles, Peace + Protect, has a Black Tourmaline embedded to the soy wax, offering extra protection each time you light it. Yep, got all angles covered!
When you feel overwhelmed, are worried or anxious, you'll find Black Tourmaline to be your go-to crystal for it's protective qualities. For maximum benefits, hold your Black Tourmaline in your hands and visualise your fears, troubles or worries being absorbed by the crystals. Having the weight of the crystals in your hands makes this visualisation easier, helping you to move through your anxiety quickly and with ease.
My other favourite is the Amethyst. It's the ultimate de-stressor and allows me to connect spiritually. It is a great meditative and calming stone and works in the emotional, spiritual, and physical planes to provide calm, balance, patience, and peace.
Trust your intuition when choosing the best healing stones for you to use. Everyone resonates differently to stones and crystals, there is no one-size-fits-all. My son, Seb has been drawn to candles since he was baby. He's an emotional and artistic kinda child, who is sensitive to stress and overwhelm. He has a few favourite crystals that he keeps in a little pouch on his bedside. I wasn't responsible for his interest in it, it was his own doing.
If you find yourself being drawn to a particular one, trust your gut and go with that one. Touch and feel the crystals in person, hold each one in your hand and see which one feels right.
There's nothing more grounding that stepping into the heart of nature. Picnics in the park on a Sunday was commonplace for me growing up, as were long bush walks, swims in the ocean, playtime in the sand and plenty of time at the local playground.
The forest and the ocean have a special spell over me - there’s nothing quite like being out at sea or in the woods, witnessing the natural beauty around me and breathing in all the fresh, fragrant air. Whenever I need to clear my head, I just step outside into nature, and I'm 80% less stressed. The effects are immediate - hard to believe but it works like a drug for me, and my children. We honestly have everything in nature to be truly thankful for.
Most if us instinctively know that we feel a deep sense of calm and happiness when we spend time in nature. People who are more connected with nature are generally happier, feel more vital, and have more meaning in their lives.
I know that when I have missed my nature walk, or ocean swim, I feel it. If I miss it day after day due to illness or work schedule limitations, I really feel it. Getting out in fresh air surrounded by trees and water is vital for my wellbeing. Sunlight on my skin, wind in my hair, with alone time to contemplate and reflect, is my idea of pure heaven.
According to research, taking twenty minutes out of your day to walk or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. I feel this. I have a thing for nature, and it's best thing ever.
Meditation / Stillness / Deep Breathing
If you haven't read my last post, do! It'll give you a little breakdown of stillness and how it has the power to change your life.
Even a five-minute meditation can bring benefits. You can use a diffuser, sprays or candles to help dive deeper into your stillness practice. Depending on what I'm holding onto to or what I need to work through, I will use my Uplift + Radiate oil spray to help solidify creative ideas and concepts and allow the to come to life. If I'm needing to work through emotional stuckness, I use my Heal + Protect oil in a diffuser.
If you're not ready to take the plunge and find your inner peace through regular stillness, dedicate to taking 10 mindful, deep belly breaths - morning and night. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain sends this message to your body. A natural stress buster, deep breathing is a powerful way to become mindful and let go of tension. Incorporate your oils and you'll come out feeling recharged and ready to roar.
I wish you well on our journey, and hope that this information assists you on your way.