Happy Holicraze! It’s that time of year again, and while we are mostly encouraged to be merry and bright, many of us are also experiencing less jovial kinds of feels (cue David Bowie’s Under Pressure.) If this is you, you are not alone. For some of us, the holidays bring with them a sack of baggage bigger than Santa’s, but fear not! Plant Speak Apothecary has got your back. Here we look at several *health-affirming* ideas for how to cope with crazy:
1. Make time for self care.
Q: Guess when we need self care the most? A: When we feel like we don’t have time for it! When we are running around aimlessly searching for the perfect gift for the partner/friend/parent who has it all, or feeling road rage in the checkout line at the grocery store - that is exactly when we should be taking some time and space for ourselves. Massage and other bodywork, yoga, acupuncture - there are lots of ways to relieve stress and help your body to recalibrate. But even if you can’t take the time/spend the money on an appointment right now, at least take a moment for yourself - in a warm bath with Epsom salts. Or take a walk somewhere outside where there are trees and breathe in the fresh air. Or a 30-minute power nap. However you can, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving and take some you time.
2. Feed yourself well.
Feed your body, nourish your soul. In the teachings of traditional Chinese medicine, this is more than a catchphrase; it is a fact. It is understood that food - once digested and broken down by our different organ systems - becomes the blood in which our spirit/mind or Shen resides. When we don’t have enough nutrient substance in our diet, our blood is insubstantial and the Shen cannot rest. Fittingly, “restless Shen syndrome” looks a lot like the symptoms of holiday madness: palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, tiredness, depression, tendency to be easily startled... aka road rage, shopper’s fatigue, family-induced nervous breakdowns. While we might be tempted in these both hectic and celebratory moments to nosh whatever we can eat on the run and call it good, our bodies know better and they will make us pay attention one way or another. So do yourself, your body, and your Shen a favor, and choose nourishment that supports your overall health and wellbeing (think warming, protein, and at least one serving of veggies.) Repeat three times daily - and remember to breathe between bites.
Bears know best; winter time is hibernation time. These are the longest nights and shortest days of the year, and that sends a clear message to our bodies - “you’re feeling sleepy, very sleepy!” During the holicraze, it can be hard to balance our instinctive need for R & R with so many invites, so little time. But rest assured, if you’d rather get down with your PJs than on the dance floor, you are not alone. Staying in, keeping warm and cozy on these cold winter eves allows for the nourishment and revitalization of our bodies, minds & spirits, and, just like the bears, gives us the strength we need to manifest our dreams come springtime!
4. Drink lots of water.
Though not as intuitive, hydration is as crucial to staying healthy during cold weather as it is in the warmer seasons. One reason why many of us get sick between the autumn and winter months is because our water intake is largely decreased, but just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean our bodies don’t need as much water. This is especially true for those of us who like to indulge and imbibe during the seasonal festivities. To keep up your wintertime hydration, try drinking 8 oz. of warm or room-temperature water every 2 hours and after every alcoholic or sugary beverage. Starting off the morning with a mug of warm water mixed with 2 TB of lemon juice is a good way to kickstart your daily water intake and also very friendly to your liver.
5. Supportive herbal supplements.
Herbs are our allies, now and always! Stress, fatigue, indigestion, congestion - there’s an herb (or herbal formula) that can support you during any phase of the holicraze season. Often times, we already have what we need in our kitchen spice rack or herb garden. Chamomile and rose tea with a spoonful of honey can have a calming effect that helps to relieve stress. Look in your pantry or consult with your local herbalist or herb store to find the right supportive remedy to help you navigate the turbulent waters of merrymaking.
6. Don’t believe the hype.
Ever heard the story about how within each of us exist two wolves? One is negative thinking and the other is positive thinking, and the one who ends up being the alpha dog is the one we feed the most... Well, same same. The holidays are only as stressful as we allow them to be. Sure, the season provides plenty of opportunities for overwhelm, but any true Californian will tell you that where we choose to put our focus creates our reality. So let’s feed our happy wolves, take a deep breath, make a nice cup of tea (see Holicraze Survival Chai Recipe below,) and let ourselves feel the love. Regardless of which tradition we recognize - if any - this is what the holy-days are all about, right?
Holicraze Survival Chai Tea Recipe:
Warming, nourishing, hydrating, and delicious!
Fresh ginger root (2-3 inches long,) sliced
1-2 cinnamon sticks
Orange Peel (1 inch x 1 inch piece)
Goji berries - 1 TB
Mulberries - 1 TB
Astragalus - 2 grams
Add herbs to a pot or sauce pan with 6 - 8 cups of water. Heat on high heat until boiling and then reduce heat to medium and continue to gently boil for 30 - 45 minutes. Cool and strain tea.
Add 2/3 tea mixture to 1/3 dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice (coconut milk is also a nice option!)
Sweeten to taste with maple syrup (recommended) or honey.
From my home to yours, may you enjoy good health, happiness, and wellbeing throughout the season!
Isabel Martinez, L.Ac.