The stress bath is a Voudon ritual that requires the work of a priest or priestess and a good half day of relaxation. This more secular version, used in hoodoo and known as an “herbal bath,” is really easy to make and also quite relaxing, even for the person preparing and administering it. You will need a pitcher or large bowl, a gallon of water (preferably spring or rainwater – don’t be shy of bottled spring water, by the way – but tap water will do fine), and a good handful of fresh orange leaves (dried will work just as well if, like me, you don’t live where orange bushes are plentiful) as well as a pan with a lid and a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
Boil the orange leaves in the water for half an hour. Remove from the heat and allow the water to cool completely, and then strain it into the pitcher or bowl.
At this point, Mom will need to lie back with her head over a sink or tub. You can then pour the stress bath over her forehead at a gentle, even pace. Make sure Mom is comfortable – this is supposed to be relaxing after all – and don’t just dump the water on her face. The idea of the bath is to pull “hot” blood, thought to cause stress, away from the head so that the person will no longer dwell on their problems but instead see solutions to them.
After the bath, help Mom dry off and escort her to some place where she can relax further and perhaps even put her feet up. What a perfect time to present her with her gifts and maybe a favorite brunch or dessert. Most of our mothers have done more for us than we can ever repay. Taking a little stress of their shoulders (or heads, as the case may be) is the least we can do. A votre santé ~
Header: Self-Portrait with Her Daughter by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun c 1789