Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
Our house is gearing up for GCSEs and so aware that stress is increasing here, I thought I'd put together a wee 'exam survival kit'. Not everyone struggles, or gets stressed - I used to have a friend who had a photographic memory and sailed through exams, heading off to Cambridge University without seeming to break a sweat. I guess this blog isn't for those who fit in that camp.
I’m acutely aware that pressures differ depending on different schooling systems too. Remembering my experience at a local grammar school where the very top marks were aimed for and reflecting on my daughter’s comprehensive school parent’s evening, the experiences are very different. A potential pass grade was heard being applauded at a recent parent’s evening, and I smiled, thinking how different it would be less than a mile down the road when speaking about a similar grade it would likely be with horror (or at least back in my day), not being pleased with it and congratulating the student for work done.
Pressures of course differ in terms of our individual experiences of the world. I was incredibly self-motivated, ‘knew’ I was going to be a vet and ‘needed’ to fly through some essential steps along the way. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I was also in a school that expected high grades, but for me the pressure was mostly felt from an internal place.
Back in my time, I got what I consider to be really excellent GCSE grades. To anyone reading this going through these exam stages, particularly if you’re feeling the stress, it might help to know that no one cares now. I worked incredibly hard, pushed myself hard but I could have just passed everything and had the same results in my life. I'm not saying don't try, don't work hard; but definitely don't break yourself over them. Stories abound over people considered conventionally successful - Ben Fogle springs to mind - who perhaps passed one exam if I recall correctly. There are many roads to Rome as the saying goes.
Being handed my A level certificate (2 Bs, 2 Cs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and General Studies), having gained grades which in hindsight, were good in the view of the general population, there were no words of congratulations shared. The student after me approached and having got all As in her grades got a ‘well done’. My Grandad had died in the lead up to my exams and having experienced horrendous migraines, I’d ended up at the Drs and being prescribed beta blockers. 2Bs and 2Cs were off from my predicted grades by one grade. Unbeknownst to me, my mum had explained the death of my Grandad to my university of choice and when I phoned, full of trepidation, to see if they would accept me; they said they were just discussing my case and would be happy for me to go on the grades that were set.
So, hoop jumped. Looking back, that's what these tests are. A stepping stone to the next stage. Are they the only way across the river? No. Is how you cross the river reflective of how the rest of your life will pan out? No.
Some look forward to them, love a test, others face them with dread. For most of us, especially in our younger years, exams are a fact of life. So this is my exam survival kit for those who are in the second camp.
Helios Stress Relief
Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence
Helios Hay Fever
And if I could give a dose of perspective too... for myself when I am doing things I'm uncomfortable with, I like to remind myself of difficult/challenging things I've done before. Or others near to me have. My sister underwent a 9 hour operation to remove a tumour the size of her surgeon's fist from her brain. A talk to 30 people? I can do that. I gave birth, and whilst in labour in my bedroom had 2 midwives, 2 paramedics, then was carried down the stairs after having relinquished the gas and air upstairs. Carried up the stairs through our front garden (the house was built into a hill), and up to the ambulance. Going to be a bit embarressed? I can handle that. I did my birthing experience. Aside from all the folk standing there/helping me, it was also one of THE most empowering experiences I've ever had. I felt connected to all the women of the past and future. Seriously incredible experience. And now, 16 and a bit years later, we can get through exam season. Might not be easy but it'll all be OK.
So in more detail; my chosen remedies:
Aconite - often known as a great remedy for shock and trauma. In an aconite state there's often a worsening around midnight. William Boericke, from one of our classic materia medicas, describes it as experiencing 'Great fear, anxiety and worry' that accompany every ailment, however trivial. Fears the future, a crowd, crossing the street. Music is unbearable, makes them sad. Feels as if what had just been done was a dream. Aconite is also well known for its ability to stop colds in their tracks. Taken on the first sign of a cold coming on, you can sometimes stop it fully happening. I think colds are a great immune system clear out - if happening perhaps a couple of times a year - the night before a big exam it might be nice to stop it if you can. Aconite 30c can sometimes be hugely helpful here.
Argentum Nitricum - I was chatting recently with a student who was telling me this is her favourite remedy for fear of flying and has used sucessfully for herself and seen help others several times. It's a big anticipation remedy and can be really helpful for things like stage fright. Arg-Nit can be helpful where there is impulsiveness, they're fearful and nervous - thinks his understanding will fail.
Arsenicum Album - this remedy is often known for helping with food poisoning, so if nerves are causing digestive disturbances it could be one to consider here too. Restlessness is seen, the person may change place continually. Sensitive to disorder and confusion. It's also one of a group of remedies well known for fastidiousness - having to have everything in the exactly right place before you start revising could be an indication this may be a helpful remedy to use.
Gelsemium - often known as a go-to remedy for flu, which is also great for stage fright... and exam fears! Stacey Dooley describes using it in her video here for help with fear of flying. Gels can be helpful when there is a frequent need to urinate due to nerves. There can be weakness and trembling and that heavy limb feeling is often helped by Gelsemium too.
Stress Relief from Helios. The clever folks at Helios Homeopathy have made some remedy combinations - this one has Aconite, Argentum Nit and Arsenicum in it as a combination. Historically called Triple A in the homeopathic community (although there are lots of Triple A combos - this is the one I've been most aware of), it's helped countless people through exams, driving tests and more. A great wee remedy to have in the pocket if needed.
Onto a few more thoughts...
Rescue Remedy, from Dr Edward Bach's range of Flower Essences, is available in a variety of forms - drops, pastilles and I think also a spray. In good health food shops (don't you love it when somewhere says that line? because bad ones won't have it in...), and all over online. For ease, and because I really love Helios, theirs is here.
I'm a fan of the Australian Bush Flower Essences and they do a similar one, it's called Emergency Essence. Take as needed. I also like their Space Clearing Spray - and whilst on it, their Focus Essence too for encouraging conditions for learning.
Arnica - probably the best known homeopathic remedy out there... often thought of for bruising, shock or trauma but less well known for it's effects on tiredness and jet lag. It's amazing for both! I've suggested it to nursing mothers who've been awake much of the night. If someone is over tired from studying too much, it could be a really helpful remedy to use. I went for pro-plus and Coke (the drink) during my uni exams, despite having a homeopathy kit - I wasn't aware of the brilliance of Arnica. Of course use within reason, and be sensible with rest, but it can be helpful if needed to help with over tiredness.
Coffea cruda - can't sleep for all the thoughts whizzing around your head? Full of ideas, tossing and turning in bed? Restless and perhaps a little irritable? It's here that we see the brilliance of homeopathy - like curing like. You know what it's like when you've overdone the coffee? That's the kind of feeling that the homeopathic remedy Coffea may help with.
Whilst we're on sleep challenges... Helios also has a sleep combo. Avena Sativa, Coffea, Passiflora and Valerian are the stars of this show. It's here.
I really like individualising and using the most specific remedy for the issue, but at times, sometimes with those new to homeopathy, as well as more frequent users; these combination remedies can be hugely helpful.
I'm aware that hayfever season often co-incides with exam season (seriously - who planned that one?!). If that's an issue, there's a combo for that too! Helios' Hay Fever combination here has Allium Cepa, Euphrasia and Sabadilla - three great remedies to help with lots of hay fever symptoms.
How to take remedies?
•In an acute case, my suggestion is to give the remedy and wait, if no response (as a rule) repeat after 20 minutes for up to three doses. If no change it’s possible it’s not the right remedy and you may need to re-look at the case...
Helios (goodness this blog is full of love for this fab homeopathic pharmacy!) has a great advice line staffed by homeopaths. Advice is free and if you wanted to buy the remedy they suggest from there you can. There's also Ainsworths who have a similar service - and are equally great.
The suggestions here are for acute help over the exam season... I'm grateful to have seen someone today for a follow up and had an update on their revision and recent exams. When we first met it was usual practice for her to be in the library til the early hours of the morning, feeling like she couldn't do enough, wasn't prepared and was very stressed about it all. We first met at the end of January this year and have had a few follow ups - it was our 4th meeting today. The client, let's call her Zoe as that's not her name, also did some work with CBT along the way too supporting herself with both homeopathy and therapy.
She reported feeling loads better about her exams, having generally worked in the library til 9pm then gone home for food and sleep. Bedtimes had moved earlier - til midnight/1 ish instead of 2/3am. She'd earlier described having a pretty bad time at times due to the stress, and now was smiling, happy and told me things had been better than they had been for ages. Knowing that I was writing this blog, I asked if I could share some of her story and she was happy to. She'd had marks back during the time we've worked together and seen her stress decrease - and her marks increase.
Social anxiety had decreased, she was taking up invitations to go out more and friends had noted she was 'sassier'. Feeling more like herself. And super smiley on our call today.
The remedy given was none of the above and was prescribed for her as an individual. A constitutional remedy. Who she is and how she experiences life were taken into account on selecting it. The acute remedies mentioned above have books (or at least equivalent of) written about each - there's just a snippet here. If you want more information, the Homeopathy UK app is a helpful source, as is the little book Get Well Soon by Misha Norland.
It was a real joy today to hear the improvements that have been made over the last 3 months. I love working with students and seeing the shifts that are possible. Seeing smiles instead of stress is a perk of my job.
I've a few spaces for new appointments left in May - several are next week... get in touch if I can help.
With best wishes - and good luck!
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley Homeopath
Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy
BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition