In my clinic it is not at all unusual to see people coming in at this time of year feeling rather frustrated and bewildered that their summer break hasn’t magically made everything better. We expect a lot from our summer holidays, and often we hope that the stress that has accumulated over the year will simply dissolve with a few sea swims and days off. The unfortunate reality is that often our holidays simply aren’t long enough or relaxing enough to make up for a whole year’s worth of stress and the way it plays havoc with our sleep, our mood and our immunity. The myth of the holiday ‘re-set button’ is one we hold onto because it gives us hope, and yet managing stress needs to be something we integrate into every day, not just a few weeks every year.
New Year’s resolutions should never be grandiose, unless you have exceptional willpower and a track record of major transformations. Most of us do better with small realistic changes, and a time frame for them. Making small changes to your week, in bite-sized chunks, can make all the difference to your feelings of stress. Whether you need an extra 20 minute walk twice a week or to simply get earlier nights, sometimes the answers can be easier than you think. Start with one thing, and do it for all of February, then in March introduce something else you’ve been meaning to do. Put it in the diary. It’s important!
Quality herbal medicines offer effective solutions to support our capacity to handle stressful times, and reduce the impact of stress on our sleep, our mood, and our immune function. Having herbal allies can help us to make the changes we need to make, because we feel clearer and have more perspective. The right herbs can help us be our best selves, our calmest, clearest, happiest selves, and so make decisions that really do serve us well in the long term. Whether we need a little help with sleep short-term, or daily antioxidants, herbal tonics are here for the taking (literally!).
Here is a short summary of herbal medicines that may support you in the year ahead. Having the right tonics on hand when you need them can make all the difference, and stop bad experiences becoming bad habits!
For Infusing Calm & Capability
There is no greater herb for this job than the wonderful Withania root. Revered in India for centuries for its ability to improve stamina and endurance under stress, Withania helps to balance stress hormone levels and improve mood in even the most trying situations. It is nourishing and nurturing for those depleted by long-term difficulties, so is also perfect for people wanting to get back to health after significant stress or illness. Withania is especially lovely when combined with the calming properties of Lemon Balm, which soothes the busy mind and frazzled nervous system. Together with B vitamins to replenish those used up during stress, these herbs can be taken daily short or long-term to improve our overall wellbeing and capacity.
For Instant Calm in Panicky Moments
Sometimes when it all gets too much we all need a little shot of something to quickly reduce stress levels and help us think straight again! There is no finer candidate than liquid Kava root. As a liquid, the effects are almost instant, and when combined with the soothing and calming properties of Withania (above) and Passionflower, you have Liquid Calm in a bottle. Just a small dose is needed and is a perfect tonic to have on hand in the office, at home, or in your hand-bag for those stressful anxious moments.
For Calming Babies & Children
The calming properties of Chamomile have been described for many hundreds of years, and yet it is often overlooked as a powerfully soothing nervous system support for all ages. Like any herb, quality, potency and dosing are important factors in making sure the medicine is effective. Organic Chamomile in a liquid form is not only a strong medicine, it is rapidly absorbed. Chamomile has a special affinity with children and babies, especially because Chamomile works on calming the nerves but also calming the tummy, and often for littlies the two are closely linked. Chamomile can calm a fractious baby whether the cause is over-tiredness, over-stimulation, or a windy gassy tummy. Chamomile is anti-spasmodic so helps to move trapped air and calm the digestive system, making it perfect for any age child with a sensitive stomach. Herbs are multi-talented, and so this one herb can be useful for many things – helping children nervous about starting a new school for example, or a child who can’t sleep because it’s too light outside!
For Improving Antioxidant Status & Immunity
If you are finding that stress is having a negative impact on your immune function, you are someone who travels a lot for work, you are asthmatic or concerned about the effects of aging, you could benefit from some extra antioxidant and immune support. Berries, especially New Zealand blackcurrants, are exceptionally potent antioxidants, and rather tasty too! A daily tonic containing powerful extracts of blackcurrants, berries and immune herbs such as Olive Leaf and New Zealand grown organic Echinacea root could help to make this year your healthiest yet.
For Sweet Deep Sleeps
We all know that poor sleeps can lead to low energy and grumpiness, but increasingly research shows us that they have far-reaching negative consequences for all aspects of our health. One of the very strongest sleeping aids in the herbal medicine world is the root of Valerian. Shown in clinical trials to be as effective as some pharmaceutical sedative medications, but with less side effects, Valerian has also been shown to not only help people get to sleep, but help them stay asleep too. This herb smells like old socks in a teenage boy’s bedroom, but it does the business! Choose an organic liquid for fast and effective results.
Let the unique power of herbal medicines support you to be calm, clear and flourishing in this new year. Blessings for 2017, may it be all you wish for and more, you have the ability!
By Asti Renaut, Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and Kiwiherb Brand Ambassador.
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