Big emotions are often natural reactions to very real challenges. Occasional stress, overwhelm and stretches of melancholy can feel scary. And yet, you’re not alone. We’ve all had seasons of life that feel like it’s all too much. Your feelings are valid, and from an herbalist’s perspective, it’s essential to address them with a healthcare professional if these feelings stick.
No matter your protocol, herbal rituals can help! We primarily lean on adaptogens and nervines when approaching mental health. Adaptogens are plants, and fungi, that have been used for thousands of years to boost the body’s overall health, including stamina and endurance, the ability to adapt to periodic stress, enhance mental alertness, and support healthy immune function.* When taken over long stretches, you may feel like you have a bit more energy and a bigger buffer between yourself and the stressful feelings.* If you need something to work more in the moment, we turn to nervines. This category of herbs includes botanicals that are nervous system tonics, mildly calming, and sedating.
We believe mental health hacks are rooted in rituals, so we weave herbal practices in throughout our day. Here are three of our favorite herbal hacks to boost mental health.
3 Ways to Promote Mental Health with Herbs
1. Wake Up with Adaptogens – For many of us, coffee is the only thing keeping us from hitting snooze – again. While the caffeine constituent in coffee plants is a powerful example of how plants really work, it’s also a great way to crash mid-day. If you’re looking to approach the day like a marathon and not a sprint, it may be the time to start using adaptogens. Simply blend adaptogenic powders like reishi and ashwagandha into your coffee or in any “milky” beverage like warmed almond or oat milk with a bit of honey. Our herbalists reach for our citrusy and slightly sweet Reishi Mushroom tea in the morning. As an ancient adaptogen, reishi is great for buffering the effects of occasional stress and maintaining stamina, when consumed consistently over time.*
2. Rest & Digest with Nervines – Let’s be honest; there’s always something going on. It’s easy to focus on work stress and personal challenges because it’s all very valid. And, at the same time, it’s often best for us not to give stress too much energy. Life happens, and herbs can help. We love taking the edge off with nervines like lemon balm, lavender, and chamomile.* Sometimes, we even sip all three together! Enjoy these herbs while you take five to practice meditative breathing, which is a wonderful way to return the body back to parasympathetic function – a.k.a. rest and digest, the state in which your body can repair and relax.
3. Wind Down With Skullcap & Epsom Salts – Herbal self-care can be a great way to ease stress and lift your spirits. Draw an herbal bath with Epsom salts to soothe nervous tension stored in muscle tissues, and if you don’t have a tub – no worries! An herbal footbath has all the same benefits, so grab a big bowl and soak your tired feet before bed. If you’re more of a sweet treats person, turn our favorite herbal teas into a cozy caffeine-free latte. We love this Stress Ease Hot Cocoa recipe, infused with skullcap, a nervine that works in the moment and helps to restore the nervous system over time as a tonic.* Or, if your thoughts are really spinning, hit the hay with valerian – a gentle herbal sedative that’s a great way to get to dreamworld and sleep easy.* You can find that in our Nighty Night Extra tea.
No matter what rituals or protocols you choose, remember that healthy rituals build a healthy body, mind, and spirit. A cup of tea and a breathing exercise might seem inconsequential, but small choices made continuously make for big shifts. So, keep at it!