Perhaps it is entirely possible to make it through the holidays without a bit of stress or worry. But I am not that optimistic.
The reality is, whether you participate in the more consumer aspects of the holiday season or not, the holidays can be really, really stressful. Maybe it is the congested department stores, maybe it’s the tracking information that suddenly shows as “missing” for your online order, maybe it’s the delayed flights and stormy winter weather, or maybe it is just that rude brother-in-law that turns his nose up at the dish you just slaved away at… Stress happens.
Rather than be swept away in the holiday hustle, let’s gather up some comforting nervine herbs to prepare us for whatever battles lay ahead. Like tinsel binding up the rotating brush in the vacuum cleaner…
Here’s my Twelve Days of Christmas in Nervine Herbs!
On the first day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Milky Oats!
Milky oats (Avena sativa) are a wonderful, fortifying nervine to build you up and protect you from the ravages of the days that lie ahead. A tincture or glycerite of fresh milky oats packs some powerful plant medicine, but even a tea or infusion utilizing dried oatstraw can offer calming and tonic action.
On the second day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Lavender!
No list of calming, relaxing herbs is complete without mentioning the wonderful benefits of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). This lightly sedative and aromatic nervine is a “go-to” for soothing the frazzled nerves. Diffuse some lavender into your space, or sip a little tea including the florets to ward off the holiday meltdown.
On the third day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Lemon Balm!
Make the holidays “merry and bright” with this mood-elevating herb. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) makes a delicious lemony tea and plays very, very nicely with other herbs.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Holy Basil!
Known for its adaptogenic, stress modulating properties, holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) earns a rightful and important place on our holiday list. Another herb with nice aromatics and flavor, holy basil makes a wonderful tea.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… German Chamomile!
If the stress of the holidays is making bedtime not-so-very-restful, a bit of German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) will help you catch some good zzz’s without making you feel groggy come morning. Yet another herb that makes a delightful, relaxing cup of tea.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Hops!
Guess what? It isn’t just the booze in your beer that gives you that “peaceful easy feeling!” Hops (Humulus lupulus) are actually super soothing when your ends begin to fray. Great as a tea – or a beer, if that’s your thing (we’re not judging).
On the seventh day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… California Poppy!
Tense and restless, much? I thought you might be… California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is just the ticket when that tension is becoming a bit painful and you are feeling restless. A little tincture before bedtime can really do some wonders.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Passion Flower!
Just realized that you haven’t checked that list in a long time, let alone twice, and panic is setting in? Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is the perfect remedy when anxiety is gnawing away at your insides. A little tincture should bring you back to a calmer reality.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… St. John’s Wort!
Hey, Elvis ain’t the only one having a Blue Christmas. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a popular anti-depressant that can really help ward off the holiday blues. Encapsulated dried herb or tincture might help put a little pep back in your step.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Skullcap!
Standing in front of a stack of sweaters and just can’t settle on a color for your Aunt Jane? Debating on finer points of semi-sweet or milk chocolate morsels in the baking aisle? Umm, are you over-thinking a little bit? Then skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is the herb for you! Take as a tincture, encapsulated, or in a tea to shut off that unnecessary stream of annoying consciousness.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Valerian!
Well, crunch time has come and gone, and all you need now is a decent night’s (uninterrupted) sleep. Whether in kerchief or cap, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is just what you need for a long winter’s nap. This notoriously stinky herb is usually taken in dried root encapsulated form right before bedtime.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my herbalist gave to me… Kava Kava!
You burned the toffee that you shouldn’t have waited until last minute to make anyway. And that brother-in-law? Yeah, he just loudly announced his distaste for your dish at the holiday table in front of everybody. Kava kava (Piper methysticum) will soothe your riled nerves and perhaps even prevent you from committing a violent crime with a fork. Maybe. This powerhouse herb is particularly effective as a tincture for those madness-inducing moments.
The holidays are rarely uneventful and very often stressful. A little careful pre-planning and stocking of the herbal arsenal can certainly help to soften the harsher edges of the season.
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting adequate exercise (I know, right?), and perhaps some vitamin and mineral supplementation (we’re looking at you vitamin D, B’s, and magnesium) is in order, too. Always check for drug interactions, precautions, and contraindications before using any herbs.
With the twelve nervine herbs of Christmas in mind, have yourselves the merriest of stress-free holidays!
What’s your go-to remedy for holiday stress relief?
Let us know in the comments below.