DIYdiy projectssmall measures

small measures with ashley: diy natural stress reducers

by Grace Bonney

[image sources, clockwise from top left: tongue in cheek, tourism bc, thorny pup at flickr, the daily green, join my candle team, prevention.com]

There are certain times in a person’s life that are characterized by stress. Waiting to find out if you landed that job you’re seriously hoping for. Going into labor. Wondering if the person you pine for returns your affections. Navigating morning rush hour traffic. Driving steeply, and precariously, downhill in the Badlands of South Dakota when your car’s brakes begin to burn and you find it very, very hard to keep from careening over a cliff (nothing like a cross-country road trip to provide a lifetime’s worth of thrills and almost spills!).

Lately, my life has been riddled with stress. It’s good stress, but stress, all the same. I’m closing in on the publication my first two books, I’m working through three days worth of photo shoots on the third, and I’m almost at the finish line of the fourth, due this coming Monday. I’m a bit stressed, frazzled, fatigued; so much so, in fact, that my left eye has been twitching, for, well, months. It has become my “tell.” If I reply when asked how I’m doing that I’m totally chill, feeling great, etc., and yet you witness my left eye twitch, you know I’m not giving it to you straight. The eye won’t lie.

To keep the right eye from also twitching, and to continue forging ahead until all of the jobs are done (as well as continue to be a lovable, compassionate, empathic, and engaged spouse in whose company my husband would like to remain-not to mention, be able to stay awake to make it all the way through Lost ), I’ve been partaking of a wide variety of do-it-yourself all-natural stress reducers. All of them tried-and-true, I thought that for today’s Small Measures with Ashley I’d share my tension tamers with you, in the highly likely event that you might someday encounter some stress of your own.

CLICK HERE for ashley’s stress relieving diy recipes after the jump!

Mush Ado About Nothing
The Goods:
-1/2 ripe avocado
-2 Tbsp. honey

The Deal:
-Place avocado in a small mixing bowl. Mash with a fork.*
-Drizzle honey into bowl. Stir to combine.
-Slather over your face.
-Leave on for 15-20 minutes.
-Rinse off with warm water and watch your soft, smooth, hydrated skin dazzle folks near and far!
*If you own a food processor, you can alternately puree it, along with the honey, for a smoother product.

A Well Oiled Machine
The Goods:
-2-3 Tbsp. sweet almond, jojoba, apricot, sesame or other carrier oil
-5 drops bergamot essential oil
-5 drops geranium essential oil

The Deal:
-Begin running a hot bath.
-Pour your carrier oil of choice into one of your cupped palms.
-Drop the essential oils into the carrier oil.
-Place your hand, with the oil into it, underneath the running faucet, allowing the warm water to carry it into the tub basin.
-De-robe, step ever so gingerly into the tub, and feel your cortisol levels fall.
*Any oily substance used in a tub makes said bathtub very, very slippery. Use extreme caution when entering and exiting. If you’re too blissed-out to wipe it clean right away, tell the other members of your household to mind the tub’s slippery state and write yourself a reminder note or leave out a reminder prompt, like a towel hanging over the tub’s ledge, to clean it later.

Air Supply
The Goods:
-An essential oil diffuser*
-A carrier oil
-Drops of your favorite calming essential oils, including: lavender, geranium, chamomile, ylang ylang, jasmine, petitgrain, rosewood, orange, bergamot, rose, cedarwood, cinnamon, as well as many, many others

The Deal:
-Combine your essential oil(s) of choice with your carrier oil.
-Depending on your diffuser, either plug it in, light a candle, or simply allow it to permeate its vessel.
*If you opt for a candle-powered diffuser, remember to blow it out before falling asleep; and, if you’re like me, living a household with cats, position it out of the way of highly ignitable cat tails!

Hot Bliss
The Goods:
-Boiling water
-2 Tbsp. dried chamomile flowers (or 3 tsp. fresh)
-2 Tbsp. dried lemon balm (or 3 tsp. fresh)

The Deal:
-Place dried herbs into a mesh tea bag or other tea strainer. Position over a tea pot or tea mug.
-Pour boiling water over pot or mug. Cover and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes.
-Remove herbs, add honey, if desired, and sip your cares away.

As an aside, my Indonesian acupuncture friend told me that, in his culture, a twitching eye means you’re going to come into some money. Bearing this in mind, I’ve decided to just embrace my twitch, and all that it has offer, harbinger of impending cha-ching, or simple reminder to slow down, be aware of the present moment, and find gratitude for the opportunity to wake up each morning and share in the wonder of being alive.

Got any go-to tricks for putting the kibosh on stress yourself? I’d love to hear them! -ashley

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  • i recently started getting acupuncture treatment, and it is the ultimate stress reliever (albeit, it isn’t free). i always walk in with a ton of things on my mind and leave feeling like i have no worries in the world! it’s amazing.

  • That is funny, my right eye is currently stress twitching. If we stood next to one another while telling people we are fine and chill it would really be quite a sight! These sound great, will have to try a few this weekend.

  • alexa-as the steward of 5 cats, i can assure you that i have the absolute best in mind when doing anything in my home that might affect them.

    i’ve been aware of the potential threats posed by excessive use of certain essential oils for some time. bearing that in mind, i always diffuse the oils in a carrier oil and then place that carrier oil in water. additionally, i only burn essential oils several times a month.

    my cats are also allowed free reign of my home and can move around and about the house (and away from the essential oil scents) when they choose.

  • I really appreciate that you took the care to add cautionary notes to your de-stress advice. Last year after hard day I ran my husband a bath (bubbles, candles and flowers), and took him a glass of wine. Well….
    The good news is he survived, the bad news is he hasn’t bathed since!
    P.S. I would eat the avocado mix afterwards, as a bonus de-stresser.

  • I feel less stressed just reading these recipes. The Well-Oiled Machine – ahhhh. My de-stress routine includes monthly massage and chasing my dog around the yard as often as possible.

  • When my eye twitches I know I have to up my daily dose of magnesium. Your body uses much more of it when you are stressed and a twitching eye is one of the first signs that your body needs more magnesium than it gets! I learned this hard way: next came a blocked back and fingers hurting like hell… (and yes, I quit that job)

    Magnesium itself might not be relaxing but helps your body through these times.

  • I love seeing the lavender farm in Kelowna posted here. As a side note to the Flickr comment, they do a lavender festival every year at harvest time. There’s lavender crafts and artisans and a little booth set up where they sell various lavender food items. Like lavender ice cream and lavender salad dressing!! Its SO worth it! And the people are pretty darn friendly too!

  • yoga. great for the body and mind. i always leave far less stressed than i came.

    and i love fresh lavendar in the house…

  • That’s right, magnesium and potassium should help with the twitching. If you can find a supplement called dolomite, get it – it has prefect proportions of both and it’s easily absorbed. Thanks for relaxing ideas!

  • I guess the eye twitchy thing is going around! Thank you Ashley for your always so timely tips!

  • lovely ideas and photos too…

    i know nothing of essential oils, but i do remember martha stewart telling a story of how she once got a massage and they were burning peppermint oil (i believe) in the room and her blood pressure suddenly dropped dangerously low (an allergic reaction to the oil). so i guess be cautious… i’m a hypochondriac, so the idea of it stresses me out. ha, i need help! twitch, twitch… ;)

  • Thank you. I have just developed diabetes (!) & no I’m not obese. Prolonged, chronic stress…no kidding. People, take care of yourselves.

  • I am a huge fan of essential oils. Typically I alternate between bergamot and sandalwood – the first when I need a pick-me-up and the second when I need to cool down. Just a few drops on the wrists seem to do the trick every time. And I cannot wait to try the face mask. It sounds heavenly!

    Also, I agree with Christina and Maya about the magnesium. I was skeptical of it in the beginning, but I have a spray-on oil that really works wonders on both a stressed mind and stressed muscles.

  • I’ll add : decorate bathroom n bedroom with a bunch of flowers, somehow flowers can lifted out one’s mood, especially d city dwellers ^-^

  • I am so with you in staying awake through Lost, and really love that you are recommending to leave the bath cleaning until later – great advice Ashley, and I will do just that and have a lovely soak!

  • Great ideas! I also get eye twitches, the occasional stiff neck, and a sore jaw. Stress is horrible. I love essential oils in a diffuser but my puppy has allergic reactions to them. However, this has inspired me to get creative and think of ways to use them that won’t make him watery-eyed!