Practically Practical: Get A Grip on Stress


By Athena

Zippity do dah (said with much sarcasm).  Yep I am in “that” sort of mood.  Why shouldn’t I be?  Because I am a witch you say?  Right, but unless you hadn’t noticed I am human also and subject to the same ups and downs as the rest of the world - my faith or practice withstanding.  However, being who I am, I have taken responsibility for myself, my actions and my RE-actions, which is precisely why I want to talk about stress, it’s effects on the body, your magick, and how you can alleviate it.


Stress has become such a commonplace thing in our lives, that we have relegated it to being a “natural” thing, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Natural, is our bodies, spirits, emotions, and minds healthy and balanced, not worried, sick, frustrated and empty within.  I don’t think it too harsh to view the things that cause this reaction within us as germs - things that cause disease (Dis-ease…as in not at ease), because that is exactly what they do!  Living with it for any period of time will compromise our immune system, emotional state, and bodily functions, just as if we had pneumonia, cancer, broken ankle, etc.   In fact, would you not seek treatment for any of these conditions?  I know I would - I am not one to like being ill or injured, and I am betting that most if not all of you are the same way.


Right about now, I am feeling a few of you roll your eyes and wailing, “You JUST don’t understand, Athena.”  Well bullsh*t, plain and simple.  I work full time, keep a home (it’s lived in but its kept), have a husband to make happy, pets to love and care for, and medical conditions that require me to learn to relax or they will get exacerbated.  Oh and I forgot, I have hobbies too.  *collective gasp*  Hobbies?? How dare she? (Yes I am poking fun at myself, relax)  I have interests such as graphics, web design, music (can carry a tune pretty well) writing, and others too numerous to mention, and believe me the balancing act I do and I think we all pretty much do, can leave us exhausted, angry, frustrated, ill and hurting (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually).  Let me tell you how I got into this pattern…


I am the eldest of three girls, and as such was relegated to the “care-giver” position to my younger sisters.  My father worked 3rd shift so he was asleep during the day, and my mother was not terribly interested in what we did as long as we A.) didn’t bother her, and B.) didn’t wake my father up.  Now we weren’t neglected per se, we had food, clothing, roof over our heads, but we weren’t swimming in motherly support.  Dad was around on the weekends and we hung out with him a great deal - we all enjoyed the special time.  However, when you are 5, 6, 7, and so on, you really shouldn’t be proficient in the art of making your own meals, doing your laundry, making sure your sisters didn’t get outside without you and drown in the pond, and still try to be a kid.  You learn very quickly to balance a lot of very alien things and accept them as “the way it is”.   I believe that this trained me at an early age to be the mediator and the peacemaker, and in some ways I took that to an extreme, to the point where I was no longer able to sit up without having sever difficulty breathing.


Did I do “kid type” things? Sure I did - every chance I got.  But as I got into adulthood I found myself taking on others troubles and “fixing” things, all the while never fixing what needed to be fixed in myself.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE to help people, but I what I really love is helping people help themselves - in short empowerment.  So there I was 30, pretty unhealthy, borderline nervous breakdown, and frustrated as hell because I knew that I was capable of so much better (oh did I tell you that I am an extremely anal person?).  I had just lost a child that I believe was as close to being my own aside from giving birth to him, and thought I had no where to go.


That’s when I got some of the best advice that I have ever heard.  Not a soliloquy, or pages of wisdom, but simple, logical advice that because I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, I had made my life too complicated.


1.    Don’t look at everything as a whole - break it down into manageable portions - you get more accomplished that way.

2.   You can’t fix everything and everyone.  Learn to appreciate the beauty in the imperfections of life - and use them as an inspiration to go on to greater things.

3.   Spoil yourself every day - it doesn’t have to be monetary, but it does have to be something YOU alone enjoy.  Take 5 minutes to sit and do nothing, take a walk in the park, go and eat a snow cone - anything that is solely for you and not something you would normally do for yourself.

4.   Meditate.  Doesn’t have to be the deep mind altering stereotypes, but you can do it.



Meditation and relaxation is a wonderful way to restore the balance in all areas of your life.  A lot of people have trouble with the idea of meditation, thinking it too difficult and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.  It can if you choose to take the time, but even 5 minutes a day will do you a world of good.  Here is an easy relaxation technique to get you on the path to health and balance.


1.    Sit in a comfortable position either in a half-lotus posture on a cushion or upright on a comfortable, straight-backed chair.

2.   Become aware of your breathing.  Gradually slow down your breathing rate, taking deeper more rhythmic breaths.

3.   When you exhale, say the word “peace” out loud, or use another word with peaceful connotations such as shanti or shalom.  A goal in breath rate would be a count of six as you inhale and a count of six when you exhale.

4.   Be aware of any tension in your body.  Silently scan your face, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, hands, pelvis, legs and feet to perceive any areas of tension.

5.   If you come upon an area that is tense, direct your calming breath to that area.

6.   When you inhale, visualize the breath moving towards the tense area, and bathing it with warmth and calming energy.  As you exhale, visualize the tension leaving that part of your body.  Continue this process until your body is completely relaxed.


Another thing you can do to relax is aromatherapy, which has become very popular these days.  There are a number of methods of delivery, scented candles, oils, bath products, diffusers, sprays, etc.  You can get them premixed for relaxation, or create your own. 


Here are some oils that are useful for relaxation and stress release:

  • Basil

  • Bergamot

  • Bois De Rose (Rosewood)

  • Cabreuva

  • Celery

  • Chamomile

  • Champaca Flower

  • Cinnamon Bark and Leaf

  • Clary sage

  • Cobaiba

  • Cypress

  • Dill

  • Elemi

  • Fennel (sweet)

  • Fir Needles

  • Frankincense

  • Gingergrass

  • Grapefruit

  • Guaiacwood

  • Havozo bark

  • Juniper Berry

  • Labdanum (Cistus)

  • Lavender

  • Lemon

  • Lemongrass

  • Lime

  • Litsea Cubeba

  • Mandarin

  • Manuka

  • Marjoram (Spanish and sweet)

  • Myrrh

  • Neroli

  • Nutmeg

  • Orange

  • Oregano

  • Palmarosa

  • Petitgrain

  • Pimento Berry (Allspice)

  • Rose

  • Sandalwood

  • Spikenard

  • Spruce

  • St. John’s Wort

  • Tangerine

  • Vanilla

  • Vetiver

  • Ylang-ylang


And here are a few recipes that utilize some of these scents:


Calming Bath Salts

Epsom salts     1c (284g)

Neroli               6 drops

Petitgrain         5 drops

Ylang-Ylang      4 drops


Calming Bath Oil

Vanilla              6 drops

Sandalwood      5 drops

Geranium         4 drops

Carrier Oil        1t (5 ml)

Body-Scenting Mist

Ylang-ylang      10 drops

Vanilla             10 drops

Sandalwood     10 drops          

Litsea Cubeba   5 drops

Pure Water       2 fl oz (60 ml)


These are just some suggestions for you to use as a guideline for relaxation.  Whether you choose to utilize these methods or not, I urge you to take time out for you, because if you don’t take care of you, you cannot count on someone else to.


May the blessing of Light be on you -

Light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart

Till it glows like a great peat fire,

So that the stranger may come and warm himself at it,

And also a friend.

And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you

Like a candle set in two windows of a house,

Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.


And may the blessing of Rain be on you -

The soft sweet rain.

May it fall upon your spirit

So that all the little flowers may spring up

And shed their sweetness on the air.

And may the blessing of the Great Rain be on you,

May they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,

And leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven

Shines, sometimes a star.


May the blessing of Wind be on you,

The gentle wind.

May it wrap around you with soft caresses

So that the mists of time are burned away,

And also your cares and sadness,

May the spring winds bring you joys

That rise from the earth, and music that

Floats down from the clouds,

And may the wild storm winds protect you

And bring you safely home.


And may the blessing of Earth be on you -

The great, round earth.

May you ever have a kindly greeting for them as you pass,

As you go along the roads.

May the earth be soft and welcome you when you rest upon it,

Tired at the end of the day,

And may your spirit

Be unbound and free to journey up and off,

Returning wisely and happily to us who love you.


Be well dear friends….


Abundant blessings,