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Handling Stress

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I write frequently about stress because in my essence practice I have noticed that people, no matter what they present as the issues they'd like to handle, express it as an underlying theme. Phrases such as "I can't go on" or "I don't know where to to turn" or "Sometimes I think I'd just like to walk out on all of this" are accurate indicators of emotional/physical stress.

I have also noticed that Rescue Remedy (Bach), an all-purpose stress reliever, and amethyst, the crystal most directly related to tranquility and peace of mind, have always been very popular.

I observe that at the beginning of a Reiki class, when I ask students why they've chosen to learn it one of the most common answers is that there's a lot of stress in their lives and they feel that Reiki will help. (They're right.)

Finally, I don't wish to leave you with the impression that I am stress-free. My commitment to reduce stress in my life, which led to increased physical exercise and the practice of yoga was the doorway to my discovering the possibility of spirituality in my life. I can say with honesty that there is much less stress in my life--and that there are still times when stress takes over. What is different now is that I can catch myself getting stressed out immediately and take measures to wind down.

There are many methods and modalities which can temporarily relieve stress--and I am all for temporary relief. It is, however, also important to look at the underlying causes of stress.

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Who's Doing It to You?

It is usual to think that stress has external causes. You have a high-pressure job, all of your children have problems, we live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. All of the above may be true; however, people respond to potentially stress-producing situations in different ways, based on their personalities.

I have also noticed that often people add stress to their lives. Why does someone who is a volunteer for several organizations (and complaining about not having enough time) join a new one? Why do some people turn a minor annoyance into a major catastrophe? Is it possible that stress has its benefits?

I have known people who recounted the number of things they had to accomplish during a given day or week. While they voiced concern over their schedule and sometimes declared that they were surely headed for a nervous breakdown there were undertones of satisfaction and pride in their voices. They felt important.

If someone has twenty-four projects going on at once she must be special, clever, and terribly interesting. If everyone has to call someone for advice he must be a great listener and a wise person.

Stress also creates a barrier to being in touch with our real feelings, and if we don't to know what we're feeling, what's really bothering us, stress is our best friend. Ultimately, though, it's our worst enemy, for the suppression of feelings which need to be felt, expressed, and released, only builds up more stress.

People who would never ask friends or family for relief may use their stressed-out condition as a silent (or not-so-silent) cry for help. Others may overwork in an attempt to win love from those whom they serve.

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Those who would like to have more calmness and serenity in their lives will benefit from examining the internal sources of stress in their lives before looking at the external sources. The above examples may provide some clues, and I have also described below some strong personality characteristics associated with certain kinds of stress.

Weight of the World

This individual takes on not only her problems but those of people close to her. If there's a family crisis she takes charge out of a strong sense of duty. She will go on after mere mortals have dropped, but there is not much joy in her fulfillment of responsibility. Oak is the Bach Flower remedy for this state of being. It helps in developing flexibility and vitality, and aids people in finding creative solutions to problems. Most important, it helps them to be able to ask others for help in problem solving.


Unlike Oak people, these folks have genuine enthusiasm for their responsibilities. Their difficulty comes when they take on more than they can handle, and they feel like failures. Their basic problem is that they over-identify with their responsibilities and don't allow themselves to step into different, and more relaxed, identities. Elm (Bach) helps them to learn to play.

Saving the World

These are people responsible not just for families or organizations, but for the world, and they take on this task with more enthusiasm than an Elm person could imagine. They have the answer and want to enroll everyone in their solutions. Vervain (Bach) returns enthusiasm to human levels. Those who benefit from it are able to pursue their enthusiasms without a crowd of supporters, and they develop the ability to appreciate other points of view and paths.


Perhaps one of the most stress-inducing experiences is to know that there's something you have to do, maybe even something you'd really like to do, but you don't. You think about it a lot, you worry about it, you get angry at yourself for not doing it. And you don't. You know who you are. And we are all procrastinators in certain areas of life. Cayenne (FES) , fondly referred to as the jump-start flower essence, can get you in motion. You may also want to read the article on procrastination at

Thoughts Going Round and Round
(The Exercise Wheel Syndrome)

It's the middle of the night and you can't sleep because you've thought of something to worry about, and you can't stop thinking and worrying. Get up and take some White Chestnut (Bach). It helps to smooth out the broken and scratchy record of your mind.

The Life of the Party

You're happy, you're entertaining. People who think they know you would describe you as someone without a care. What they don't know is that you are really a sensitive person who doesn't want to burden others with your suffering, and that you don't want to face your feelings, either. You may use alcohol or drugs to avoid feelings.

The Agrimony (Bach) remedy helps those who can benefit from it to realize that in the long run it's easier to face one's feelings than to ceaselessly (and stressfully) run away from them. You will still be sensitive, and now find that the harmony you tried to create externally is now within you.

These are not the only stress-inducing personalities, but they can give you a start. See our list of Bach Flower Remedies for descriptions of all the Bach Flower Remedies.

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Stress Relievers

Taking the appropriate flower essence can do a lot to relieve stress, especially if each time you take you remind yourself that your intention is to become stress-free. If you feel too stressed to figure out which flower essence is best for you start with Rescue Remedy (Bach) the all-purpose essence.

Appropriate exercise is also very helpful. Walking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi can be relaxing. In my experience exercise machines and weight lifting sometimes have the opposite effect--but, remember, that's only my experience.

Take deep breaths every time you feel stress overload coming on. Breathe deeply until you feel calm again.

Meditate. If you find that this is difficult for you because thoughts and worries keep on distracting you, you're a candidate for White Chestnut (see above). You may also find that a guided meditation tape is the easiest way for you to slide into the positive habit of meditation.

Crystals can also make meditation easier, as well as helping generally in stress.

Amethyst is the most popular crystal for stress relief, and probably one of the best for meditation (to use it for this purpose it is best placed on the third eye [between and slightly above the other two]). Not only are its energies calming, but it can help us to realize that the chaotic merry-go-round of daily human existence is not all that we are. With amethyst we can remember that we are souls in physical clothing.

Chrysocolla also helps to convey this message. Often known as the peace stone, it helps to communicate a feeling of tranquility. This versatile stone can be placed either on the heart chakra or the throat for calming purposes.

I have noticed that many people carry hematite as a worry stone, and the smoothness of this crystal makes it very suitable for the purpose. It is also value for its ability to keep us from taking on the emotions of others (which can be a major source of stress). In meditation this stone is most effectively placed at the base of the feet (it's good to have two).

If impatience is one of your stress-producing patterns rhodonite can be helpful. This is another crystal which I recommend carrying. In meditation it can be placed on the heart chakra.

Tiger's eye fosters patience in helping us to take the long view. When we leap into a situation or project before it's appropriate to do so we can create much unnecessary stress. This stone can be placed on either the first or third chakra in meditation.

Beyond the Rainbow
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