Bach flowers for life event stress

Distress about an ‘adverse life event’ is among the most common reasons that people seek help from the Bach flowers. Besides major events such as the loss of a job, a divorce, and the death of a loved person or pet, many other kinds of traumas, disappointments, irritations or deprivations can happen in life.

During my former career as a research psychiatrist I carried out a study about life events in relation to health. This involved following up a sample of women over several years through a series of detailed home interviews. Adverse events were reported much more often than pleasant ones, and the number of events varied greatly between different people. One event often set off a cascade of others and there were usually accompanying long-term difficulties, such as financial problems or unhappy relationships.

This is not the place to discuss that particular study but I would like to mention some personal observations I took from it. These points are not often emphasised in the academic literature, but they may be helpful to people dealing with life event stress themselves.

1. The impact of an event varies a good deal depending on individual personality and circumstances. The same experience, for example being made redundant, might be variously perceived as a loss, a punishment, an insult, a challenge, the hand of fate, or a blessing in disguise. It could give rise to different emotions such as sadness, guilt, resentment, anger, resignation or relief. There is always potential for ‘reframing’ personal attitudes and emotions around an event.

2. Although adverse events usually lead to emotional distress, and sometimes act as the trigger for a mental or physical illness, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and often there are compensations in the longer term. The person who was made redundant might, for example, benefit from a much-need rest before going on to improve his or her skills and presentation and eventually finding a better job.

3. We are responsible for much of what happens in our lives. Although some events such as bereavements and natural disasters do happen independently, they are the minority. Most events do not arise ‘out of the blue’; personal choices and behaviours have usually played some part in the chain of causation. Some also believe in metaphysical aspects, for example that our thoughts and emotions determine our life event experience through the Law of Attraction, or that the Universe presents us with the experiences required to advance our spiritual development.

Here, in alphabetical order, are some suggestions for Bach flowers which can assist coping with stressful life events and difficulties. The statements in quotes are taken from The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer. As always, the choice of remedy or remedies depends on the current emotional state of the individual. Please visit the Bach Centre website for more details.

Chestnut bud ‘from superficiality to experience’: if the same type of adverse event keeps ocuring in your life, this may indicate a failure to learn from past actions.

Gentian ‘from doubt to trust’: if you feel negative and discouraged following a setback, delay or disappointment.

Gorse ‘from giving up to going forth’: if you feel completely hopeless, and can hardly see any point in trying to overcome long-standing difficulties.

Holly ‘from hard-heartedness to generosity’if you feel consumed by hostile feelings such as anger, jealousy or suspicion towards other person(s) whom you hold to blame for what went wrong.

Star of Bethlehem ‘from shock to reorientation’: for shock and grief, for example after an accident or bereavement, even if it happened some time ago.

Sweet chestnut ‘through darkness to light’: if you feel unbearable anguish and have reached the end of your endurance. 

Willow ‘from resenting fate to taking personal responsibility’: when the predominant feelings are those of self-pity and being a victim, Willow can encourage a greater sense of empowerment.

Adverse life events are always upsetting but there is often something to be learned from them. For example, having an accident – especially more than one – might indicate the need to be more patient, to curtail an overload of commitments, to maintain better safety standards for your home or car, to pay more attention to the present moment, or to avoid going too long without food. Or, experiencing a series of relationship breakups might indicate some kind of imbalance in your own psychology.  There are Bach flower remedies to cover some of these issues too, but details would be beyond the scope of this post.

Bach flowers for finishing a novel

Browsing through the search terms which have been used to find this blog, I recently noticed the unusual one ‘Bach flowers for finishing a novel’.  The person who wrote it probably didn’t find much help from the information which was here at the time, but I was intrigued by the question and will have a go at answering it now. A large number of different remedies, only some of which are mentioned below, could be indicated; please visit the Bach Centre website for further details. Up to six flowers can be combined in one course of treatment and, as always, the choice depends on the personality and current emotional state of the individual concerned.

After months or years of working on your manuscript, becoming deeply involved with the characters and their story, the prospect of finishing the actual writing and moving on to the publication stage can seem quite daunting. The final product, which whether you realise it or not is bound to reveal some personal aspects of your self, is soon going to be launched into to the outside world. It may be met with criticism and rejection. You will have to tackle the practical demands of publishing and marketing, which may be unfamiliar or uncongenial. Are you anxious and fearful about certain aspects of the process (Mimulus)? Lacking confidence in your abilities (Larch)? Do you set yourself such high standards that you are continually revising your manuscript in a quest for perfection (Rock water)? Or do you keep making revisions because you are being over-influenced by others’ opinions rather than staying true to your own ‘inner voice’ (Cerato, Walnut)? Perhaps, rather like a devoted mother whose young adult child is preparing to leave home, you have anticipatory feelings of grief and loss (Star of Bethlehem), want to hold on to the former pattern of life (Honeysuckle) or do not know what to do next after finishing your novel (Wild Oat).

Many states of mind would tend to hinder progress on a personal project of any kind besides finishing a novel. For example: feeling overwhelmed by other responsibilities (Elm), being so willing to help other people that you do not have enough time for yourself (Centaury), mental lethargy in relation to getting started on a task (Hornbeam), the tendency to daydream about your ideas rather than taking practical action (Clematis), being distracted by outside influences (Walnut), feeling negative and discouraged after a setback (Gentian) or generally laid-back and apathetic (Wild Rose).

Or perhaps you are simply feeling tired of the book on which you have spent so much time and effort, and the best plan is to take a break from it before completing the final draft.

Whether a book ever can be considered perfectly finished is another question ….