Incorporating herbal remedies into my life has become a key part of how I nourish myself so that I’m able to stay focused on the things that matter most to me. Developing a system for herbal self-care to support yourself in ways that feel affirming and sustainable is a fun endeavor that you can tackle by yourself, with a friend, or even in consultation with a professional. Sharing your goals with others is a great way to build in a little positive accountability!
Many of us find ourselves beginning each new year with ambitious intentions, but not necessarily with a solid system in place to support us in achieving those goals. As we work to bring new projects to fruition or incorporate new behaviors into our lives, having a self-care routine in place can often make the difference between fizzling out after the initial excitement wears off or seeing things through to a successful finish. I’d like to encourage you to plan ahead for how you will nurture yourself over the course of the coming months.
So where to start as you plan out your herbal self-care for the year? First, be realistic about how much time you have available. If fitting self-care into your schedule becomes a point of stress, then we’re undoing our work even before we’ve begun! Remember, these herbal practices are meant to nourish you and give you extra support!
Start with goals that feel achievable and build gradually upon your successes. Perhaps pick a small daily goal for your first month or two, then add in a weekly goal, and then a monthly or quarterly goal once that feels good as well.
Here are some examples of herbal practices you might enjoy adding into your self-care routines:
- Herbal tea – find time to drink a cup of herbal tea somewhere in your day. This could be an energizing tea to help get you going in the mornings, a tea to help you focus on your tasks for the day, or a relaxing blend as you wind down before sleep.
- Digestive bitters – herbal bitters are best taken about fifteen minutes before eating and can assist with your meal digestion and reducing bloating or discomfort. Try them before one meal a day at first and see if you notice a difference, then increase from there if you wish.
- Herbal baths – most people jump to the image of a bubble bath when self-care is mentioned, so let’s take it a step beyond and add some herbs as well! Calendula and chamomile are two of my favorites, along with a good handful of Epsom salts. You’ll either want to keep the herbs in a cloth bag or have a strainer basket so you don’t clog your drain when emptying the tub afterwards.
- Herbal foot soaks – Don’t have time to commit to a full bath? Try a foot soak! Taking care of our feet after running around all week can be a very rewarding treat. While there are home foot baths out there, you can do this without any special equipment – any pot or container large enough for you to get your feet in will work (make sure it can handle relatively hot water as well).
Monthly or quarterly practices
- Plant walks – get outside and learn about herbs! There are plenty of local groups that offer regular plant walks where you can go for a nice hike and learn how to identify the amazing biodiversity that Tennessee has to offer. Check with the state parks nearest you.
- Herbal consultations – if you want to dive deeper into working with herbal remedies but are unsure of where to begin, consider making an appointment with an herbalist. They can help you develop herbal practices tailored to your own individual needs and goals.
Remember to not put too much pressure on yourself as you start to incorporate herbal remedies into your life. If your goal is to drink a relaxing cup of tea before bed each night and you miss a day or two, it’s okay! Just pick back up again once you’re able to and carry on from there. Bringing herbs into your life on a regular basis can give your overall wellbeing an extra boost as you move through this new year. I hope these herbal self care practices provide you joyful nourishment throughout 2020 and for future years to come.
Sara Schuster is a queer herbalist, homesteader, and medicinal herb farmer. She offers herbal products, educational workshops, and herbal consultations through her business, Fox and Elder. She is also the host of the Tending Seeds podcast. Sara can be reached at FoxandElder.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook.