PSA: Don’t Forget Self-Care!!

self-care - fire

Oh look, it’s another PSA (and all in the same week)!! This time my friends, I’d self-care - on edgelike to ask you all how you’re feeling. So how are things?

You see I’m asking because I’ve noticed that a fair few people seem to be either a little overwrought and on edge, or feeling completely drained at the moment. It’s beginning to look a little bit like people are feeling somewhat overloaded.

Signs of Overload

We’ve all been to places where we’ve felt a bit off, right? Or felt the change in subtle energies with the waxing and waning of the moon? This is because we humans, even those of us who try to cling to the physical, tend to react to the energy in our environments. And there are any number of environmental factors that can kick up the energy in a place and leave you feeling…off. (This is what I mean by “overload”.)

self-care - aloneSome of the most common environmental factors that lead to this are things like “psychic impressions” left by horrid historical events; the influence of celestial bodies (as the aforementioned example of the lunar cycle); the time of year (liminal points especially); strong emotions from other humans; and especially strong emotions from other humans en masse. Of course, the degree to which these things will affect you very much depends on your personal level of sensitivity, and the most sensitive and empathic typically themselves more acutely affected than others.

If this is you, you may find yourself feeling on edge or particularly emotional (when you have no discernible reason to be so). You may also feel as though there are too many things going on, a sensation like you’re somehow running out of time, or like you just can’t settle. Conversely, you may feel inexplicably exhausted and drained (likely from the effort of trying to process the overload). And while we’re on the subject, how are you sleeping? Because if you’re on the “inexplicably antsy” end of the spectrum, I’m betting you’re also not sleeping for shit either – at least not without help.

Here is where self-care comes in. So what kind of self-care can you practice when the causes are from more subtle sources?

Discernment

Your first step is to take a deep breath and try to figure out what’s going on. The question you need to ask yourself here is if these emotions are really yours (ie intrinsic to you), or if you are reacting to something external.

In some cases, this is simple. For example, if you have only just started to feel like this after entering an environment but feel fine when you leave, then that can be a pretty clear indicator that the cause was external. However in other cases, this is where self-knowledge comes in and knowing the shape of your own thoughts. For those of you who regularly practice meditation, this is probably relatively easy for you. For those of you who aren’t there yet though, this is where grounding and centering can be helpful.

Grounding and Centering

From the perspective of self-care, or “psychic first aid” (or whatever the hell else you want to call it), grounding allows you to rid yourself of excess energy, and centering helps you to restore your balance. If you suspect overload and are not sure if what you are experiencing is external or not then try grounding and centering. It’s a great way of shifting that excess energy into the earth, giving you the space you need to take stock and figure out your next move.

Feel better now? Then the cause was likely external.self-care - grounding
Feel about the same? You need to look within.

Many forms of grounding and centering involve some kind of tree visualization, during which the person envisions themselves as a tree with roots sinking down into the earth and branches reaching up to the heavens. However, if you’re not really in a place where you can do that because you’re just too wired, I have a kickass alternative that a friend of mine came up that is great for kinesthetic types (thanks Becky!).

Becky’s method is based on the realization that the iron in our bodies is a match for the iron within the earth, and the iron that is to be found in space (which created some of humankind’s earliest iron artifacts). Leveraging the principle of “like attracts like”, Becky’s method involves concentrating on, and feeling for the iron in one’s own bloodstream, then mentally feeling out and reaching for the like substance in the earth, and in the skies above. If you do it right, it should make you feel like someone just opened a sluice, like that excess is draining out, and like you’re suddenly more present.

Shielding

So you’ve grounded and centered, and figured out that you’re getting reamed by whatever the hell is going on where you are. Now what?

Now you shield in order to minimize if not outright stop the factors causing the overload from getting through. Depending on how extreme the conditions are where you are, you may need to keep an eye on and redo your shields as needed. Here, I would advise you to see these shields as being “in addition to” whatever else you use for defense (if you do). This is more like ‘magical sunblock’ as opposed to hardcore defenses.

So how do you crack out the magical sunblock for a bit of continued sanity?

self-care discoball
This disco ball is so extra.

One of the most commonly touted methods is the “disco ball” method, in which the individual visualizes themselves within a disco ball. Of course, you’re not only visualizing here, but also willing this to be so. It won’t work unless you’re fully invested.

With the disco ball, the idea is that the outer mirrors reflect away anything unwanted, thus leaving the person within protected and insulated. Give it a try, and see how you feel. How does the imagery work in your head? Because this is the funny thing about this kind of skill: not all imagery works equally in all people. This makes sense because not all people get equally invested in the same things, and like I said, you need to be invested. So if this is you, you need to find imagery representative of the same principles then work to build that imagery. Just be aware though that how you build your shields can affect how others perceive and react to you. I know some who prefer to create their shields out of a kind of woven net rather than an impenetrable and reflective surface as they believe that that degree of shielding impedes their ability to work.

Purification

Finally, don’t forget purification. In my opinion, purification is one of those massively important but generally somewhat neglected practices among modern Pagan practitioners. Which is a pity because we pick up so much dreck in our lives that it’s pretty easy to become somewhat bogged down and heavy. This is where purification comes in, both for homes and individuals.

Keeping your home clean is your most basic home purification, but it’s also self-care purificationgood to try and burn purifying récels (incense) around your home such as either mugwort, or a rosemary/vervain/juniper mixture. This smoke can also be used for the self too (I like to burn it in a cast iron Dutch oven and just stand over it so that I’m enveloped by the smoke).
Taking cleansing baths with cleansing herbs like rosemary or birch is also helpful; saltwater is also good. I also like to keep herb oils on hand for emergency situations – hyssop oil is good for this.

These are clearly not the only purification methods that you can use; I could write an entire post just on purification (and I may just do so at some point). This whole post is intended as more of a rough and ready survival guide (and reminder to take care of you).

Well, the gym is calling (more self-care), and I’ve got to angry-run on a treadmill. Be well.

Question

So, my last post provoked some interesting discussion over on Facebook. Some were unaware that there’s life beyond white sage, others brought up the interesting fact that white sage is so sought after by new age practitioners nowadays that the plant is now becoming endangered, and others shared tips and personal experience. It was a wide-ranging conversation, the kind I absolutely adore, that leapt from the now-trendy appropriation of NA practices and its role in the endangerment of white sage, to apotropaic practices, to questions that I really didn’t want to just limit to my personal Facebook. And so, rather than typing out a long post over there, with the author’s permission, I decided to feature that question here.

I know a number of folks under tremendous stress and strain right now. My own pattern is that stress gets shed at home, like shoes at the end of the day, and it accumulates. With colder weather coming and the need to keep windows closed, it settles and can be harder to shift. How about something for that?”

– Skylark Crowfancier (Pseudonym semi-invented for both reasons of fun and privacy)

When looking at this question, my first instinct is that it would be better that a person dealing with these kind of issues needs to be proactive rather than purely relying on something hung or installed in the home (although, I have some ideas for that too). Better yet would be to endeavour to not bring that kind of energy into the home in the first place, as I know Skylark knows, that kind of energy knocking about can cause all kinds of issues (as can any loose energy really).

But how would one go about doing that?

There are numerous ways, we’ve all seen those worry dolls in the ‘hippy’ stores, but how many of us keep a worry penny that we might handle while mentally going over our stresses on the commute home? A penny that that energy might then be pushed into and then discarded into running water or buried at the end of the week? A new penny for each week. We might even create our own worry dolls and mentally tell them our worries, or even write a journal entry on the way home from work in a private journal. Practicing mindfulness (either on its own, or as a part of one of these other measures) also helps because that training helps to get to place where we can confront our stresses in an ultimately detached way, and come up with more objective ways to deal (which in turn, gives us greater ability to manage stress). There are some great apps too for people on the go that teach mindfulness. If you have ten minutes of sitting in one place on your commute, you could definitely make use of the free versions of apps like Headspace or Calm. I also really like SuperBetter.

You might even set up a post outside your front door for ‘wiping’ off the dreck of the outside world. It needn’t be a complicated affair, a piece of 2×4 planted in a plant pot filled with earth to both ground and weight it. And of course, it could be as simple or as fancy as you’d like it to be. But it would require the ability to manipulate your stressed emotional energy into your hand, that you would then wipe off onto the post. To help with the process, you might even put a charm on the wall-facing side to imbue the post with the intent that any negative energy would be attracted to it and grounded out through the earth.

Such a set up would also be helpful inside the home, if you’re looking for something to have working away in the background. Just remember to change out the earth on a periodic basis.

Once in the home though, a shower in which you visualise the dreck of the day being washed from you, or even just taking some more time to sit in meditation/talking things through with friends/finding ways to laugh (yes laugh, laughter is so often underestimated for its healing abilities) would go a long long way.

Although these suggestions are simple, things that seem like no brainers to folks when you suggest them, it’s often hard to see the forest for the trees when under serious stress – stress is nefarious in that it robs us of our clarity, motivation, and energy. And it’s not about having a charm to make things right either. Sure, you can have the charm working away in the background, the grounding post that attracts negative energy like some kind of psychic air freshener, but the root issues need to be dealt with as well or things ultimately won’t get much better. Often, part of the stress is that we’re in situations in which we cannot change the current circumstances that are adding to the stress.

Which only adds more stress, and so the cycle continues.

In these situations, the only thing that is left to change is how that stress is handled on a personal level, and make time to work on that – after all, at that point, it’s the only variable left. Which *is* hard, it’s hard to be motivated to meditate or work out when under severe stress. Even when you start in the smallest of ways and build up slowly. But it’s soimportant to push through that and find ways to get it out in a healthy way, be those ways as ‘mundane’ as going to the gym and getting your stress and anger out through physicality, or via more psychological or magical means such as those suggested above.

Because at the end of the day, aside from issues of negative energy in our living environments, stress can take us down as surely as any illness.

The only difference is, we’re far less likely to ignore illness.

So don’t ignore stress, find those tiny chunks in the day, use them to wage your own war on stress, and see it pay dividends in your lives and homes.

NOTICE: If you are dealing with stress and really feel that you’ve come to the end of your tether, please reach out and get professional help. Stress kills.