January was rough.
It’s been a time of tense muscles, street noise, and fight-back racket against the inhumane and unjust demagogues who’ve taken over the White House. I’ve been finding myself run ragged not just from work but from the constant little siren that’s been going off in my head saying “This is not normal. This is not ok. You and your loved ones are in danger.” I know that a lot of folks in my community are feeling the same and, of course, those feelings are valid. But as my wise friend Maria says, “The world is on fire but you still need to eat lunch.”
(Do yourself a favor and click on that link for a “go the f*ck to sleep” style poem on why you need to eat lunch even when things are rough. I’ll wait, don’t worry.)
Last week, I wrote about the necessity of self-care not just as an invitation to all of you to love on yourself, but a reminder to myself. Since then, I’ve been taking better stock of what it is I need to be doing to take care of myself so that I might continue to fight the good fight and care for my community for the long haul (because, praise Goddess, Witches will always outlive their oppressors if we protect our magick).
When I'm feeling out of sorts, my self-care reassessment includes the following:
Acknowledge you're probably running on some false narratives.
Case in point - if I take 30 minutes to stretch and meditate I will let down the entire radical movement attempting to overthrow the patriarchy. Guess what? That’s just not true.
Ask yourself if there is another option.
We need to release those false narratives but then we need to fill that space with a new story. If I take 30 minutes to stretch and meditate I will be revitalized and better able to do the work that I want to do (which in the long run means the patriarchy is still coming down).
General life advice, right? It is not just about slowing down physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. An example of switching over to slow would be moving from scrolling through your social media feed nonstop to sitting down and reading a book. Or instead of searching for the "right" crystal that'll make your fear go away, simply sitting and connecting with the crystal core of heart of the earth.
Drink water and eat good food.
Let’s continue to fight to protect our sacred water and keep hydrated. Let’s continue to fight to protect our right to healthy food by eating food which makes us feel good. Rather than a “don’t eat that” restriction, imagine how much clearer your investment in protecting water and food would feel like if you had a better relationship with both in your daily life.
Self-care and healing and attention
to the body and the spiritual dimension
- all of this is now a part of
radical social justice struggles.
- Angela Davis -
My rejection of false narratives, reaffirmation of more kind ones, slowing down, and commitment to drink water and eat good food all led me to thinking, “Wait, why haven’t I been drinking that tea I love so much?”
That tea which I love so much is Bliss Blend. While I’ll drink it day or night, it is one of my favorite teas for bringing in a feeling of ease in the evenings. Bliss Blend was one of the very first teas I sold in my shop (and by shop I mean on the cold autumn streets of Portland, ME during the last of the farmer’s market season as well as online) and I’ve been using it in my personal and professional practice ever since. Since I often work in the evenings, I like a tea that is relaxing but won’t make me overly drowsy. While Bliss Blend is useful as a pre-bedtime tea, it’s not meant to be a super-sleepy sort of brew. I originally created it on the fly when a friend came over and started to have an anxiety attack, so if your stress manifests as anxiety, Bliss Blend might be a great brew for you.
Bliss Blend features three herbs (two of which are on my indispensable herbs list) and a mellow flavor. We'll take a quick look at each herb individually and then I’ll share with you my Bliss Blend recipe. I've also made suggestions for how to replace an herb with another if you don't have the following three on hand.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) is a fantastic nervine. Actually, all three herbs in my Bliss Blend are nervines of different varieties. Lavender has a lovely softening energy (it might be a good herbal mascot for the radical softness movement actually) and acts like a gentle massage to the nervous system. It’s really useful for headaches brought on by nervous tension and has the added bonus of protecting the body from infection (which we’re more prone to be impacted by if we’re stressed out). If you’re looking for a Lavender alternative I would recommend a cooling nervine.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is another nervine but of the definitively relaxing variety (one of its common names is Blisswort so you know it’s good stuff!). Skullcap helps relieve feelings of being overwhelmed and quiet the nonstop anxious chatter that can go on in our heads. The herb actually produces more endorphins in the body because its a rich source of scutellarin. Skullcap is one of my favorite herbs to help relieve muscular tension (hello, tight shoulders!) and, as the name, implies, helps with those tension headaches. If you’re looking for a Skullcap alternative I would recommend a relaxing nervine.
My final herb is Sacred Basil (Ocimum sanctum or tenuiflorum) and its another nervine, but of a more warming and stimulating variety. I run cold, so when I have two cooling herbs like Lavender and Skullcap in a blend, I like to warm it up a bit with a herb like Sacred Basil so that I do not overly cool my system. Now, don’t get concerned seeing that I have an herb labeled as stimulating as part of my brew. First of all, Sacred Basil is mildly stimulating, and second, it’s an adaptogenic herb which has the amazing ability to energize or relax body systems as needed. If you’re looking for a Sacred Basil replacement seek a warming and gently stimulating nervine.
- 2 parts Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
- 2 parts Sacred Basil (Ocimum sanctum or tenuiflorum)
- 1 part Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Brew 1 teaspoon of herb per 8 ounces of water and steep for 5 - 15 minutes. For a medicinal strength brew, use 1 tablespoon per 8 ounces of water and steep for 30 minutes to overnight. I like adding in just a touch of honey, but it is equally delicious without any sweetness added. Now, if drinking herbs are not your cup of tea (ha! funny!) you can always make Bliss Blend into a healing foot bath.
So now you know what I’m drinking tonight. If you haven’t already, check out my post on why self-care is a necessary and revolutionary act. Then unplug, make yourself some tea, untangle some tension, and practice softness and ease.