How to Beat the Winter Blues, Plus a Recipe for Happiness Tea!
During these dreary days of Winter, while we are starting to really miss the sunshine and the garden growing, it is easy to become a little down. According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about six percent of the population, and up to 20 percent may also experience milder affects of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), also known as the "Winter Blues." Symptoms include a general feeling of melancholy, lowered energy, cravings for sugars and starches, and weight gain to full-blown depression symptoms. Some people may even withdraw from family and friends. But there are some things you can do about this!
Natural Ways to Improve Your Mood
There are some effective and natural ways to improve your mood during the colder and darker Winter months!
1. Get Some Sunshine!
Just getting outdoors for a little while every day, even if it's cloudy outside, has been shown to help elevate your mood. Using lighting that provides a daylight option also helps because the UV rays somewhat mimic the sun. These light bulbs save money, PLUS they help to energize you and improve concentration.
2. Get Some Exercise!
When your energy level is lower during the winter, it feels counter intuitive to exercise. However, getting some physical activity is a great way to improve your mood. Getting close to nature and just moving around has significant benefits on all parts of your body--not just your mood. Also---getting exercise is instrumental in helping your body release endorphins, those "happy chemicals" that naturally boost mood!
3. Eat Well
Nobody has ever felt better by eating a ton of sugar, processed foods, and high starchy carbs. Try your best to eat your veggies and be sure to get enough protein!
4. Herbal Mood Boosting Tea
Here is a recipe for my favorite mood boosting herbal tea you can blend yourself that naturally helps create a more positive outlook and uplifted mood.
Ingredients in Happiness Herbal Tea
A note about the traditional herbalist's measurement in "parts": Measuring in parts simply means you get to choose which amount will comprise a part! If you want a large amount of bulk tea, for example, you could choose a cup to be a "part" and create your ratios accordingly. If you want only a small amount of tea, then just choose a small measuring tool, such as a tablespoon!
Where I get my herbs: If I don't grow them or forage for them, I purchase my herbs from Starwest Botanicals! They have fast shipping, pay attention to sustainability, have excellent prices, and the quality is always terrific!
3 parts St. John's Wort
2 parts Rose Petals
2 parts Oatstraw
2 parts Cinnamon
1 part Hawthorne flowers & leaves
1 part Peppermint
1 part Dandelion
1 part Eleuthero
1 part Orange Peel
Just blend the dried herbs together! That's it!
How to Make Happiness Herbal Tea
For one cup of tea: Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried herb. Pour just boiled water over, cover, and steep for about 30 minutes. I like to use an infuser cup, because that way I don't have to strain out the herbs---the cup does it for you! Also, you can get another cup out of the herbs this way! Nice, right? Drink, sweeten if you like, and enjoy!
To make a greater amount: Fill a quart Mason jar with about an inch to an inch and a half of dried tea blend. Pour just boiled water to within an inch of the top. Cover, and let steep for 30 minutes to an hour or so for stronger tea. Strain out the herbs. Sweeten if you want, and enjoy! You can also store this tea in the refrigerator up to two days!
For detailed directions on how to make an herbal infusion, read this article!
About the Herbs in Happiness Tea
***NOTE: I purchase my herbs from Starwest Botanicals, unless I grow or forage for them.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum):
St. John's Wort is a small spreading shrub with pretty little yellow flowers. If you are foraging for wild St. John's Wort, you'll know you have the right plant because if you squeeze the flowers, you will end up with red juice on your fingers! Yep! Red!
Taken as a tonic over a period of two to three weeks, St. John's Wort is very effective in treating mild depression and anxiety in many people. It's also great for helping with symptoms of pain caused by neuralgia and used externally for healing wounds. Over the past three to four decades, there have been many clinical trials that prove the effectiveness of St. John's Wort, but using this herb (like most herbs) is not like taking a prescription pill. Cycled through periods of 3 to 4 weeks on and 1 to 2 weeks off, many find great results using St. John's Wort.
Safety Factors: When taken internally, St. John's Wort may cause photosensitivity. If you are taking anti-depressants, please speak with your physician before supplementing with St. John's Wort as there may be interactions. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should always seek medical advice before using herbs.
Oat Straw (Avena sativa):
Milky oat tops so some amazing things for the nervous system. This herb helps relieve stress, nervous irritability, and anxiety. They are high in calcium and also contain high levels of protein, silica, B vitamins, and flavonoids. They are just plain good for you....besides being calming to the system.
Safety Factors: Unless you have an allergy to oats, this herb is completely safe.
Hawthorn Flowers & Leaves (Crataegus aevigata):
A relative of the wild rose, Hawthorn is considered one of the best herbs for the heart. Hawthorn's actions on the body include dilating the arteries and veins. This helps blood flow and therefore, circulation. Hawthorn also helps to regulate blood pressure, as well as tones the heart muscle.
Hawthorn is well-known to herbalists for helping to ease grief and emotional pain.
Hawthorn has a sweet beautiful taste, and complements the power herbs above to help ease anxiety.
Safety Factors: Hawthorn is generally safe to use, however, if you are taking heart medications, you should talk with your doctor before using. I wish I could say to "talk to a doctor who knows something about herbs," but these are few and far between.
Dandelion (Taraxacum oficinale):
One of my favorite herbs, Dandelion grows everywhere and is packed with nutrition and health benefits! You can eat the leaves in salads, as well as create gentle but powerful tinctures and teas for the liver and kidneys. I included Dandelion in this tea because it is so full of nutrition. As Hippocrates once said, "Let thy food be thy medicine!"
Safety Factors: Dandelion is safe to eat, drink in teas, and to tincture!
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus):
Also known as Siberian ginseng, Eleuthero is famed for regulating and helping generate energy. In fact athletes are known to use it consistently to help with performance! Eleuthero doesn't give you that "rush" like caffeine does---no, it is more a general improvement of energy when used over time. Eleuthero is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps support the stress response in your body. Over time, it helps you deal with anxiety and regulate cortisol.
Safety Factors: Eleuthero is safe for most people to use. If you are taking heart medications or medication for schizophrenia or other mental disorders, you should talk with your medical doctor before using.
Cinnamon Chips (Cinnamomum verum):
Cinnamon is warming and stimulating and enhances the actions of the power herbs in this tea. It is also known to regulate blood sugar levels. It tastes delicious and adds a great flavor to this tea!
Safety Factors: Avoid cinnamon in high amounts if pregnant, as it may stimulate the uterus.
Roses are calming, sweet, and lovely. That's why I added them to this tea.
Orange Peel and Peppermint:
Both added for the extra nutrition as well as the delicious and balancing taste! Yummy!
Let me know if you give this tea a try or if you have comments in the comments section!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical doctor, and in no manner, stated or implied is any information in this article or elsewhere on this website meant to cure, diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. The statements made are simply my personal opinions based on experience and herbal study. Please be sure to see a medical professional for any health concerns.
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I love, love, love this book! I've been learning about herbalism for years, and I still turn to this, my very first herbal book, by Rosemary Gladstar!