by guest author Bevin Clare, MS, RH, CNS, Clinical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Associate Professor Maryland University of Integrated Health
Right now the world seems to be bearing down on all sides with fires, hurricanes, deportation, human rights issues, political tragedies. There is so much to care about, so many ways to give and directions to be pulled in. Many of us feel a dire need to stay afloat ourselves or to fight for those of us who are less privileged. It’s essential to create all of energy and protection we can muster right now.
Here are 8 ways we can tend ourselves to reduce overwhelm and protect ourselves during these stormy times:
1. Touch the Soil (or at least the leaves)
Nature provides us with consistent solace. Take a moment to touch it, smell it, taste it. If you can reach a big immersive forest take the time to do that. If you can reach the overgrown lot in your city block go and pick some wild flowers. Be sure to experience nature with more than one sense. The consistency, tenacity, and peace of plants is a good reminder of strength.
2. Cook up some medicine
Your food can be your medicine, and taking the time to make a healing meal for you and perhaps people you care about can be a wonderful way to self-care. Consider the food which makes you smile and feel whole, one from your lineage or from your favorite menu. Think about what flavors, herbs, vegetables are nourishing to you. A simple bowl of rice and beans can be healing as can a more elaborate meal shared with friends.
3. Connect in a real way
Connect with someone in your community or with someone online, with someone who makes you feel purposeful and valid. New friend or old friend, see if you can get beneath the superficial interactions and develop a connection which can feel nourishing. Your connection can be through service, friendship, professional connections, the grocery store line, or any place you find an opening.
4. Take a break
Stop and take a break to breathe, nap, meditate, find a place of stillness. See if you can carve 15 minutes out of your day to find this time but even 2 minutes is better than running constantly ragged. Create a space and try to clear it as much as you can to immerse yourself in a place which allows you to regenerate a bit.
5. Play (maybe even get silly)
Do something playful and distracting. If you know some small children they can often be good at encouraging you to be present and playful for a while. Splash, paint, color, pretend, sing, cartwheel, do something which captures your attention and creates space for you to be present in a new way (or one you might have forgotten about).
6. Nourish with herbs and teas
Many herbal teas can help modulate your stress response, aide in restful sleep, and provide overall support for the inflammation which can occur in a chronically stressed individual. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is an adaptogen supreme and helps us to feel more energetic and less stressed while minimizing some of the negative effects stress has on our bodies. A simple cup of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita) can soothe us into deeper sleep or tame anxiety throughout the day, especially helpful if your response to stress involves changes in your digestion. Ashwaganda (Withnia somniferum) changes the way we respond to stress and can also be helpful with sustained anxiety and the effects of poor quality sleep patterns. It’s best taken as a capsule or used in its traditional form boiled in milk.
7. Laugh out loud
Find something funny, anything you know is sure to make you laugh until you run out of breath. Share it if you can find someone with a sense of humor. Those auto-correct lists always seem to tickle my funny bone, but for some of you it’s stand-up comedy or your favorite movie or novel. Laughter changes our bodies in all sorts of good ways and can be a simple way to tend yourself.
8. Make a plan
Some of our overwhelm can be from wanting to help and not knowing where to start. Take the time to make a plan. Figure out what you have to offer (Time? Money? Skills?) and where you can offer them (Local organizations? National non-profits? Friends of friends?) and make a solid plan which is feasible and will not only serve your community but will help with your sense of purpose.
Whatever you do, it’s worth taking the time to take care of yourself so you can be as effective as possible in these times when we need to pull our weight more than ever.
This article appears on her fabulous and informative website www.bevinclare.com and is reprinted with permission.
Bevin Clare, M.S., R.H., CNS, is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist and an Associate Professor and Program Manager of the Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Herbalism at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She holds a MSc in Infectious Disease from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, serves on as an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the New York Chiropractic College. Bevin has studied herbal medicine around the world and blends her knowledge of traditional uses of plants with modern science and contemporary healthcare strategies as a consultant and educator. Bevin is the president of the American Herbalists Guild, the largest body of professional clinical herbalists in the US. She is founder of the Herbal Clinic for All program, providing cost-free herbal medicine healthcare since 2007 and is a board member of the United Plant Savers, a group working to protect at-risk medicinal plants in North America. You can find Bevin’s musing on a variety of Clinical Herbalism topics, including infectious disease, at www.bevinclare.com. She resides on a beautiful piece of earth in Maryland with her family.