Our nervous system, governed by the element air, is influenced by a life of experiences. Emotions affect the nerves and the state of the nerves can affect our emotional responses. Our nervous system can keep us cool, calm and collected in stressful situations or, at the opposite extreme it can throw us into a state of anxiety.
Everyone gets nervous at times, especially when we dealing something new that we are unfamiliar with. It is part of a survival instinct. The mind perceives a threat and the body responds accordingly, preparing us to either fight or run.
But when anxiety and our nervous response gets debilitating, stopping us from carrying on with our day to day routines or impinging on sleep, it can have a detrimental effect on our immune system.
This is where herbs and other lifestyle supportive measures can be incredibly useful and make positive changes to our health.
Self-Care Check List
- 6-8 hrs of sleep per night is a good place to aim for
- Daily practice Meditate/mindfulness
- Nutrition: Rainbow of food – fruits, vegetables and whole grains; less sugar, caffeine and processed foods
- Have a leisurely bath with Epsom salts and/or lavender or rose essential oils (foot bath if you do not have a tub)
- Pause and breathe deeply, regulate your breathing a few times each day
- Exercise – make sure you move your body each day. This can be as simple as going for a brisk walk outside, or dancing around your living room to your favourite songs for ten minutes
- Connect with loved ones -communicate your feelings
Herbs to reach for in times of stress
A nervine is a plant remedy that has a beneficial effect upon the nervous system in some way. This makes the word nervine into a bit of a catch-all expression, and to properly understand the varied ways that these plants behave within our bodies they can be differentiated into 3 major categories: nervine relaxants, nervine stimulants, and nervine tonics.
We work holistically so for any treatment of nervous system problems to be truly successful it will always involve treating the person and their whole body and not simply the signs and symptoms arising from the nervous system, however there are some great tonics and relaxants that can be adopted as part of our calm proactivity when it comes to this unusual situation in which we find ourselves in.
Our favourite relaxing and supportive tea blend
This blend is designed to calm frayed nerves, provide comfort for a troubled friend off-loading at the kitchen table, give you support for grief, self-nurture, even in the search for love – a little more about these plant medicines
The mystical beauty and intoxicating scent of Rose has inspired lovers, artists and poets throughout time. Rose invites us to get intimate with our heart’s desires, while gently cushioning and soothing the grief around lost loves or past trauma.
She is the loving hug of comfort and the sweet scent to reconnect you to your sensuous desire. We use the buds and petals of the wild dog rose which creeps through the hedgerows with perfect cartoon heart-shaped petals.
On a physical level, Hawthorn is wonderful medicine for the heart and cardio-vascular system. Hawthorn can also be effective in steadying an irregular heartbeat and regulating blood pressure. With its powerful heart medicine, hawthorn is a great bringer of courage.
The word courage has its origins in the Latin word for heart, ‘Cor’. We think of Hawthorn as the plant that counsel’s rhythm. Connecting us the with passionate fire in our hearts accessible when we find our own rhythm in the world – walking our authentic path step by step at our own pace. We use the leave, flowers or berries of this courage-inducing herb.
Lime blossom is a honey-scented bloom that is deeply soothing to the nervous system. A cooling, sedative nervine, Lime can do wonders to soothe anxiety and calm nerves or a fast-beating heart. Lime counsel’s inner peace and calm, softening and soothing past wounds so that we can engage with the present in clarity and peace.
Lime flowers are a valuable cardio and nervous tonic. It is a specific herb for preventing the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, particularly where this is aggravated by nervous tension and stress. It will both tone and relax the nervous system and the cardiovascular system, acting as an anti-spasmodic relieving muscular and nervous tension. Lime flowers demonstrate diaphoretic activity which, when combined with its relaxing effects on the blood vessels, can help reduce body temperature and heat during a fever.
Lime flowers can help induce sleep, particularly where an individual may be affected by nightmares or night sweats. It will calm stress, anxiety and symptoms such as palpitations that may be preventing the individual from falling asleep or functioning effectively. It is also often classed as a herb suitable for use in the treatment of children.
Lemon balm’s zesty scent attracts humans and bees alike. She is an immune boosting herb; a calming digestive herb and she offers up-lifting support to the nervous system. Lemon balm is named for Melissa, the nymph from Greek mythology who brought us the honey from the bees. She hid baby Zeus from his murderous father, feeding him milk and honey. This generosity is reflected in Lemon balm, a prolific herb that you can harvest many times in the year (though we prefer her succulent spring and early summer growth).
Preparing the herbs
All of the herbs, once harvested can be laid on a tray on newspaper and placed in a warm, dry place. An airing cupboard is perfect. Once crispy to the touch, they are dry. Either snip into small bits or leave the roses whole. Mix equal parts of each and place in an airtight storage jar with a beautifully created label on the outside naming the tea and ingredients.
This most delicious tea blend Heart & Soul, truly is a ‘ Hug in a Mug‘ , the strengthening heart-centred, medicine of the Rosacea family cousins, hawthorn blooms and rosa petals, intermingled with the honey uplifting vibes of the soothing lime blossom and opened up and given a citrus zing with the gentle lemon balm makes for the perfect infusion of peace and tranquility – gifts of calm
When preparing the tea, think about what or who it’s for. Hold that in your mind as you prepare one teaspoon per cup in a tea pot and pour over boiling water. Leave to steep for five to ten minutes and strain as you pour. We like to serve in a beautiful tea pot with china cups.
For a more in-depth look at creating plant preparations and a season walk through the herbs of the year check out our Sensory Herbal Apprenticeship
Tools to aid in times of stress
Priorities taking time to slow down and de-stress. Cook yourself good nutritious food, take relaxing baths, ask for help with something that is bothering you, take time to arrange a routine that will help in getting enough sleep.
The breath is very important when dealing with nerves and anxiety. When we get anxious our breathing speeds up, but when we focus on slowing our breathing down it automatically elicits the rest and relax response in our bodies.
Meditation and Mindfulness
The main principle of meditation is to quiet the mind. Emptying the mind of the chatter and stories we tell ourselves about our past and future can help bring calm and stability into our present lives, making us more resilient to stress and anxiety.
There are many different sorts of meditation, but a simple method is just to sit comfortably, use the breathing technique above and focus on something like a flower or a candle. Keep the focus on the object and try not to let it wander. Just a few minutes a day is very beneficial.
Talking to Friends, Asking For Help
“A problem shared is a problem halved.” Think about sharing your anxieties with a close friend or write a journal to empty your mind of your worries. Make sure that you and your community are in contact to support each other if times get tough. Shared meals dropped off at the door, on the end of the phone for a chat.
Nutrition and Diet
Are you getting enough of the vitamins and minerals your nervous system needs to function well? Vitamin B complex, potassium, calcium and essential fatty acids ( EFAs) are all important. Eat lots of dark leafy greens, oranges, bananas, hemp, pumpkin and flax seeds. You may want to consider taking vitamin B supplements and adding lots of seeds to your diet.
Studies show exercise is as good for your mind as your body. Getting your blood and lymph pumping around your body brings your brain fresh blood and nutrients and can change your perspective and calm your nerves. Start more making time for your favourite sport, try an online yoga or tai chi class. Moving your body each day can be simple and done in your living room although fresh air is obviously the best, a walk in your local park, woods wild spaces is important to diary into your life.
Change your perspective
uplift the vibe of your day
Move away from anxiety and towards joy by beginning and ending your day listing 5 things you are grateful for. You might want to write these in a notebook and read them back to yourself, adding 5 more each day. Perhaps you are grateful for the trees in your garden, sweet kisses from your child, a cool glass of water, a comfy bed. Throughout the day, if your anxiety starts to rise, see if you can return to the grounded feeling that gratitude for where you are might give you.
Play uplifting soothing music, burn energetic essential oils like grapefruit or rosemary.