Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Blah boost With Herbs

Winter Mood Booster Herbs

There has been virtually no snow this winter.  Many days it feels like spring outside, but unlike spring there is not lengthening of the days yet, no greening of the plants and if there is you worry that the next temperature turn will kill them and lessen real spring when it does come months from now.

With my husband going into the hospital at the first of the year and myself gathering a nice seasonal cold by the second week of the month, this year has brought on a serious case of the winter blahs.  I have no creativity at all.  Writing the blogs takes so much energy that I am lucky to write one a day which hardly gets me ahead for gardening season!  My fiction writing is in an untouched pile on the desk and even the thought that I might be getting something back from my editor is not exciting to me.  My beadwork has been spread out on the table for weeks and I have not even bothered to fix my broken earrings.  And we will not even talk about the housework that I have not accomplished this month…

I realized I needed some winter recovery in a hurry.  I turned to a few natural mood boosters. Try adding little things to your life that bring you joy till you reach a tipping point and have to give in to being in better spirits -- from a hot date with your bathtub every night for a week to fresh-cut flowers by your bed.  Sometimes it just takes a little creativity to find your way out of the doldrums of winter.  Someone once told me a cold shower in the morning is good for removing the blah’s too, but I have not yet given that the test.

Here are a few herbs shown to help ease you out of that rut...

Remember always check with your physician before beginning a new regimen (especially if you're on medication).

Lemon balm – Loved by gardeners and herbalists for its fresh minty-lemon aroma, Lemon Balm is known for its relaxing and calming effects and great flavor.  Lemon balm is wonderful in combination with milky oats and chamomile as a relaxing after-dinner tea.

St. John’s Wort might be one of the most well-known herbal remedies for depression.  It has been the focus of many scientific studies, but the evidence of its effectiveness has been inconsistent.  The general consensus seems to be that it can be healthful for mild forms of depression but lacks the ability to treat more severe depression all by itself.  This makes sense, since herbs, though potent, are not drugs and any herbal protocol for serious issues should have a broad and multi-tiered approach.  That said, individuals have had positive results taking St. John’s Wort, and it has a long history of use, especially in Europe.  Taking St. John’s Wort in the form of a tincture is easy and doable.  If you do not make your own tinctures, check out a supplier like Mountain Rose Herbs for a bottle of tincture.  Follow the instructions on the bottle or ask your healthcare provider for their recommended serving size specifically for you.  I am not one from the capsules, but I do make it into tea.  I have never grown more than I can use personally, so I do not have a tea blend with St. John’s Wort.

Lavender is one of the best herbs for relaxing tension, calming anxiety, and easing mild depression.  Turning to lavender essential oil is fast, easy, and uplifting when you’re feeling down.  Dilute the oil in a bath, use an essential oil diffuser, or apply a drop or two to your clothing or pillow case.

One of my first tea blends (a combination of lavender and lemon balm) was created during the winter doldrums when I was trying to make it through an especially dark winter.  After being outside gardening all summer the lack of activity and daylight took its toll.  The resulting blend is Lemon lavender Splash.  It even sounds uplifting, doesn’t it?

My Afternoon Lift  Tea was created the following year with the same idea in mind.  It contains cinnamon, chamomile and lemon balm and lemon peel.  It is a good treatment for winter ailments as well as mood lifting.

Everyone always asks me why I seem happiest in winter when it snows a lot.  That is because I love snow.  After a storm when the air is brisk and the sun is out I love to go for a walk and those in the know will tell you, Vitamin D which we get from sunlight exposure is especially good for improving your mood.  When there is no snow, I do not get outside much.  So don’t forget to get some time in the sunshine when you have the opportunity.  It’s for sure the best way to bring a little extra light into your winter day!

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