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Friday Favorites: The Chill Out (Mostly) Herbal Edition

Dharma Kitchen


Friday Favorites: The Chill Out (Mostly) Herbal Edition

Carrie H

I know this weekend is Labor Day. Most bloggers would be giving you recipes for grilling or for baked goods with peaches or maybe even apples, as the early varieties are starting to surface. But as you have probably figured out, I am not most bloggers.

This week has been a stressful one for so many people I know. So many shifts. The full moon last weekend in Pisces makes things emotional, as if it knows. School starting and jobs shifting and relationships changing. Endings and beginnings. We're all in it. Everyone I meet this week seems to be on the same uncertain wavelength where the only consistent thing is that same uncertain wavelength. It is all normal, but changes like to cluster. When they do, sometimes we need help shaking off the detritus it kicks up. I suggest lots of hugs and a decent cry, if need be. If that's not your bag, here's the Chill Out (Mostly) Herbal Edition for Friday Favorites, whereby we look at things to help us not be-labor (get it?) these shifts. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine would take one look at my desk right now and pronounce that I'm dealing with an Earth imbalance: too much clutter. This is life right now. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine would take one look at my desk right now and pronounce that I'm dealing with an Earth imbalance: too much clutter. This is life right now. 

1.  Ashwaganda, which is an adaptogenic herb; these help your body adapt, or modulate, its response to stressors and changes in your environment. I can't go on enough about how this has helped me so far, and it's only been a few months. It blunts the edges without making things dull. It has tons of great benefits, many of them restorative in nature, and has been used in Ayurvedic traditions for centuries. Stabilizing blood sugar, boosting immunity, supporting the thyroid, and on and on.

2. Valerian. I first read about this herb nearly 20 (!!!) years ago as a wee intern at Men's Health in Emmaus. But in the past six months, I've been working on my adrenals, which are seriously taxed. Valerian has been a blessing. Per the recommendation of Dave Harder, the herbalist and owner of Nature's Way in Easton, I started with a smaller dosage than what's on the bottle, and determined its effect before going all in with the recommended dosage. It helps take the edge off at bedtime, when the brain is racing. It also helps me fall back asleep when I've woken up in the middle of the night. You can learn more about this from David Winston and his company Herbalist & Alchemist. He's pretty much the modern guru for herbs. 

3.  My essential oils. If nothing else, they smell lovely and make you feel a little bit more grounded and in tune with your feelings as you are using them. My favorite for diffusing, and diluting and applying to my feet, is Young Living's Peace & Calming. On some nights, when I diffuse that in my room, it knocks me right out. Sadly, it's out of stock until the fall, but Peace & Calming II, a similar blend developed to address the shortage, is readily available and not expensive. It is a careful blend of tangerine and orange peel oil, ylang ylang, patchouli, Northern Lights Black Spruce, Vetiver, and so on. 

4. Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax herbal tea. This one's like chamomile on steroids. Or wait, that's a bad comparison, because steroids make for 'roid rage, right? And this tea has lots more than just chamomile: passionflower, licorice root and lemon balm, with a subtle citrus flavor. ( I also like Shaklee's chewable Cal-Mags, with Vitamin D, right before bedtime—especially after a challenging yoga practice. Magnesium is good for those muscles.)

5. I first wanted to include a specific book, but I would rather include a specific author, Dr. Wayne Dyer, which is timely because he passed away at the age of 75 from a heart attack several days ago. Dyer never wasted a second of a day on a feeling that didn't serve him and I often like to think of him as a spiritual grandfather. I would recommend any of his books, but in particular, I like Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting. It provides some practical tools you can employ to change your thinking about how you think about your goals. (I have read several passages out loud in bed to John; that's how good it is.) His family and publishers (I presume) have also made his film The Shift available for free via download, for a few more days, in keeping with his wish that 3 million people view it. (See also: Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.) 

Please keep in mind, I am not a doctor, nor an herbalist, nor a medical professional. I'm just a gal who reads a lot, listens to her body and speaks from her own experience. Check with your own doctor, naturopath, chiropractor, etc., especially if you have some pre-existing conditions. 

What are some of your favorite mindful tools for tackling mental clutter and stress?