We’re all pretty exasperated with the rain (high winds anyone?!!) and mud, but it does seem that we have more showers and sun breaks lately. Relax with a nice cup of her tea and give the morning just a little bit of time to warm up, then head out. No need to hurry. Then enjoy the moment. Leave the phone and earbuds inside so you’ll really be in tune with what’s happening outdoors. Let’s celebrate Garden Month and Stress Awareness Month with the herbs, birds and seeds and soil.
Working in the garden is a proven means of reducing stress. (1) There’s even research to show that spending time in nature helps restore attention, relax the body, and revive your mood. A garden offers a bounty for the senses: colorful leaves, aromatic blossoms, chirping birds, busy insects, squishy earth. Make a deliberate choice to soak it all up. Use all your senses to really be attentive to what’s happening. (2) That should mean that you won’t be distracted by the phone. (Ok, I do have one exception for those of us of a senior persuasion and yes, I (Eloyce) do keep my phone in my hip pocket as a safety measure.) So if you have an important must see message coming at least put that cellphone on vibrate, so you can hear the breeze and the birds and the bees.
It’s nice to just think about what you want to accomplish, make a daily plan over a relaxing cup of herbal tea. Garden Delights Stress relief tea is a good way to start the morning. Or you can try our Tension Tamer pack for a variety of three teas to set you at ease.
Choose what suits you and what you think you would enjoy and maybe use. It doesn’t have to look like Sunset magazine, oh I wish. If it’s just a corner of your yard, a few pots on the patio or a 60 foot square vegetable garden, do it so you enjoy it. Gardening will give you a sense of accomplishment. The beauty you add to your home or the fresh food you put on your table is tangible proof of time well spent.
Finally, consider adding these herbs not just to your tea blends, but to your herb gardens as well. They’ll pull double duty to help you relax! (3)
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – this easy to grow herb (seriously be warned, it grows so easily and likes to spread!) makes a terrific base for herbal teas, as it combines well with other herbs. Lift your mood in either a warm morning tea or fresh it makes an outstanding iced tea. Our lemon balm is up already, but we’ll wait a bit to harvest, until it’s about 3-4 inches tall. Easy to grow and easy to dry, it will provide a light, lemony mint flavor to your tea. One of our very favorite herbs for summer iced tea when combined with a bit of peppermint, catmint and bee balm (maybe a touch of anise hyssop too!). It also makes a lovely hydrosol; we distill our own from herbs grown right on the farm.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) - also known as tulsi, this easy to grow annual can ease stress over time, helping to modulate your feelings of anxiety. Combine the herb with lemon balm and chamomile for a truly relaxing evening time tea. Works great as a tincture too, if the day is just getting to be too much and you need a little calm down moment. Eloyce found it to be somewhat bland as a tea; while Erin thought it tasted fine, especially combined with some spicy ginger to help warm her up this winter.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – strong scented and strong flavored, this herb is often used as a tincture or taken in capsule form due to its bitter flavor. Some even claim the fresh roots smell of stinky socks! Valerian root is the main part used, so dig them up in the fall for relaxation and a much needed good night’s sleep. Note that for some people, it can have the opposite effect – energizing you. So give it a try on a day when you’ve got some time to see what happens.
German Chamomile (Matricaria chemomilla) – this easy to grow, self-seeding annual will keep on giving year after year, after you first plant it. Which is great, because you’ll love to add it to your nighty night tea as it helps you catch a good snooze without leaving you feeling groggy and can even soothe a tummy troubled by stress feel a bit better. Its light apple flavor blends well with many other herbs.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – commonly associated with cats, this herb has the opposite effect on humans. It is an herb we use all the time in teas and tinctures to help us relax and feel calmer. This perennial is an easy to grow herb (in colder areas some mulching is beneficial) and will even set seed and spread a bit. Protection from neighborhood cats may be needed to ensure you have enough for yourself!
Whether you blend your own tea or buy it from the store – be sure to take time for yourself with a cup of herbal relaxation and to enjoy some time outside now that spring is here!