By: Rebecca Ramdeholl, C.H.N.C.
The holidays are coming, and you just can’t seem to get into the cheery moods that everyone else is experiencing. You’re not looking forward to those inevitable family get togethers that just produce headaches. You can’t find a quiet time to yourself with all the ruckus and noise going on. You’re too tired to wrap gifts, and you have NO motivation when it comes to venturing outside for some play time with the kids because it’s too cold. Even the pretty twinkling lights of the Christmas tree just doesn’t hold the same magic anymore.
Does this sound like you? Oh wait. That’s me too.
But don’t let this bring you shame. You’re allowed to feel blue before the holidays. The world is not perfect. Stress abounds. Bills must be paid. There’s less sun outside. The same zest for life isn’t there at this time of year. But guess what. It’s not supposed to be there.
Historically, winter has been known as the season for slowing down. The earlier evenings and the colder temperatures pushes mammals to go back underground, hide, hibernate, seek comfort and warmth. It was the ending of harvest and time to enjoy what we accumulated throughout the year. It was time to find solace with our fellow humans, for story-telling, for love making (hence the Spring/Summer babies!), and connecting with ourselves through quiet times, rest, and meditation. In Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with Yin, the energy associated with cold, dark, slow and inwards. In Ayurvedic Medicine, winter is aligned with the dosha known as Kapha – some of the qualities attached to Kapha is heavy, slow, soft, and cool. Sound like winter?
So, don’t be surprised that you don’t have as much spunk in the winter, as you do in the summer. But winter really shouldn’t bring on depression. Depression is not a seasonal thing. As in every case of depression, there is always something behind the depression, so a good way to start addressing it would be to talk to someone. Socializing with your favorite people is an AMAZING way to lighten the heart and the mind. The way we eat also effects our moods, so be careful of those foods and beverages that you KNOW aren’t good for you, and think of something else to chew on.
Tea has saved many of my days from being bathed in blue. Especially in the winter. This is the perfect season to try all kinds of different herbal teas and see which one lifts your spirit up, and helps you move forward with your day, not with a drag, but with exuberance.
One of my FAVORITE teas that I have is Pukka Relax Tea – love it so much that I promptly put it into my store. No, I’m not getting paid by any company anything to say this. I came across this tea at a health food store, and decided to give it a try to see if it would help with my anxious state of mind. Right off the bat, I loved the soothing color it gave off, and the smell was beautifully sweet. No sweeteners necessary for this one, which is an extra bonus. This tea uses Chamomile, Fennel seed and Marshmallow Root.
Let’s break it down!
Chamomile (Anthemis Eecutita) – a herb traditionally called ‘the plant physician’ for its ability to revive a sickly plant if planted near it. Insects tend to avoid Chamomile, it grows beautifully and smells amazing when trampled on. The dried flowers are used for teas, and is famous for its calming and sedative properties. It has a calming effect on smooth muscle tissue, and can soothe anxiety, nervous stomachs and promote sleep for those suffering from insomnia. Its relaxing effect makes this plant good for digestion as well.
Fennel (seed) (Foeniculum vulgare) – This plant is tall! Can grow up to 6 feet tall, and has an attractive, feathery-foliage. The seeds are what’s in use in the tea, and it’s used primarily for its stomach-settling magic. Fennel can stimulate appetite, which comes in handy if you’re experiencing holiday blues. When in a depressive state, most people lose their appetites, so this is something gentle and stimulating for that personality.
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis) – this is another herb known for its calming effect on the body. It is high in mucilage, so that when it combines with water it develops a gel-like consistency, which feels amazing for those nasty inflammations or irritations of mucous membranes. In fact, it’s an old-time remedy for any gastrointestinal disorders. King Charlemagne (A.D. 742-814), himself, ordered his kingdom to plant this herb throughout, so that they never run out of supply.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) – While Cinnamon is not an ingredient in the above tea mentioned, it needs to be brought to the spotlight. I absolutely LOVE cinnamon. No other spice in the world makes me feel what cinnamon makes me feel. Safe. Loved. Happy. Cinnamon triggers all the happy memories of my childhood holidays, and warms up my blues. Cinnamon is in fact a warming spice. It has been used medicinally to aid digestive complaints, but it has recently made news due to its blood-sugar balancing powers. Pukka has this AMAZING 3 Cinnamon Tea that works wonders for me and hits all the right spots. Sadly enough, I don’t have it in supply, but you’ll find it in any natural health food store.
While these herbal teas are wonderful and safe to consume, you should check to make sure it won’t interfere with any medication that you are taking. At the time of writing, there is currently no evidence of contraindications between Cinnamon or Marsh Mallow and medication. There has been evidence of contraindications between Fennel and Ciprofloxacin (antibiotic), but not yet reported in humans. Chamomile has been reported to reduce side effects of chemotherapy by helping reduce the incidence of cold sores in sufferers, which is a good thing. Also, people allergic to ragweed should use caution when consuming Chamomile tea because both ragweed and Chamomile are part of the Asteraceae plant family, and so may experience allergic reactions. Make sure you let your doctor know that you’re thinking of trying something herbal before doing it.
As the holidays start to creep closer, and you feel your blood pressure rising, just remember some simple steps and you’ll do fine:
I hope your holidays bring you peace, lots of laughter, and a warmth that lasts you throughout the cold seasons. And remember, breathe, pause and drink tea.
NOTE: There are several medical, diet, and lifestyle approaches to managing depression and anxiety. None of these are a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any of these conditions, or are taking medications for it, please make sure you’re being monitored regularly. Always remember there are support groups available as well.
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