As we step into the winter phase of the year we are facing a few things. The virus is gaining momentum however we look at it and it is crucial that we think about the best defences we have to fight off this awful virus but also other factors like flu and winter bugs. If like me you are worried about this then read on. I chatted to Wendy from Budds Herbal Apothecary while picking up my Autumn syrup (more on that later) and we talked about how people are feeling in their mental health as well as the best things they could all do to protect themselves over the winter 🙂
Wendy is a mind full of knowledge and wisdom when it comes to optimum health. Her feelings are that if we think of preventative measures to help ourselves our bodies will work as hard as can be. When talking of the 4 pillars of health Wendy said by thinking of these at the forefront of our minds will bring immense benefits. But what are the 4 pillars of health? Well, I am sure you will have all heard these and lots of times it is our parents that said them to us when we were young. As we get older, areas of our lives take over and sometimes it is hard to keep up with the regime. These are the 4 pillars….
STRESS LEVELS TO A MINIMUM
Deep down we all know these words and what they mean to our health. I can imagine you heard these words a lot from your parents when you were little. Eat your greens, get your beauty sleep are all common things said but as we get older it can be harder to look after ourselves.. A stressful time might mean you can't sleep very well or you suffer from a condition that affects your sleep. All that matters is that you are doing your best to look after yourself and that you look for ways to help yourself where you can.
Connecting with others is vital for our wellbeing and being in lockdown can really make us feel lonely. You can be the healthiest person in the world but if you don't have love in your heart then this isn't going to be good for you. Talking on the phone to loved ones and relatives can really lift your spirits. Just a little joke or laugh can really boost your day. I recently left a voice message to my friends I haven't seen for a long time and they said just hearing my voice really made them smile.
Facetime and Zoom have proven that when our loved ones are far away and we can't physically see them just seeing their face on a screen has really helped to make us feel better.
Connecting with neighbours and checking in on them is a lovely thing to do so keep looking out for each other.
Looking at virtual ways to socialise is now a new trend we wouldn't have ever thought of at the beginning of the year but now you can attend beer tasting sessions, quizzes, and all kinds of social events online.
We all know how we feel when deprived of sleep so it is important to listen to your body and try to relax where you can. Your body needs time to switch off from the day you have had so things like a warm bath, essential oils to enhance relaxation can help. Did you know that looking at a bright screen on your phone or iPad just before bed can trigger your eyes to think it is daytime? meaning that it could take longer to drift off to sleep.
In the winter months, we have to fight off all kinds of virus and bugs and our first line of defence is what we put in our bodies. We need vitamins to really give ourselves a chance to be fighting fit.
Looking at a rainbow of colour on your plate is always a great way to start getting what you need. Did you know that peppers and kiwi fruit both have more vitamin C in than oranges? You can get more calcium from spinach than milk?
Not only is this time of year a fab time to make soups as it is comforting and warming but also because soups can really boost your immune system by adding good vegetables and ingredients like turmeric, garlic, and spices. Also if you have heard anyone mention bone broth when a person is ill this is because of all the goodness that comes out of that.
Look out for Wendy's soup recipe at the end 🙂
As we have now gone into another national lockdown and there are concerns how the virus is developing in your area you might be worried about a loved one's health and the impact that COVID could have on them or even yourself and this can have a substantial effect on your mental health. Lots of us having to isolate or be couped in our homes all play a part. But you can help yourself by trying to limit your stress levels where you can. Worrying about what you can control is a great saying many professionals use when helping people to cope. Grounding is where you think of objects in the space you are in to help lower stress levels. Lot's of people when asked found their anxiety around shopping and being out was not great due to whether they felt people were going to social distance, or they had to stand in a large queue. A good way to help stress levels when out is to look at an object and just concentrate on that for a minute to help you regain your composure so you aren't too stressed.
Have you been watching Autumn Watch this year? I have loved it and one of the things mentioned in episode 3 is about anxiety and depression and how being out in nature can help lower your stress levels. Being in a forest or woods environment for just 15 minutes can really help your mental health. The release of chemicals coming from the foliage, plants and trees has scientifically been proven to reduce blood pressure. Cortisol is the stress hormone we all carry but we also know can get out of hand making us have anxiety and depression. Being out in nature amongst the trees has been proven that it pushes down our cortisol hormone levels to help us feel better.
Seeing leaves and their texture can help us to feel relaxed. Science has shown that being out amongst trees and looking at natural things affects areas of our brains associated with happiness and uplifting feelings.
When we spend time next to water it has been proven to decrease our cortisol hormones and turn our fight or flight feelings we can have into feeling relaxed and calm. So on your exercise walk in lockdown walking next to the sea will really bring you many benefits.
How Herbs and Vitamins Can Help to Feel Better
Herbs have been around for centuries and we are so lucky to have a herbalist right here on our doorstep. I asked Wendy what people can take if they want to protect from a virus and this is what she said.
Preventative is better than cure so by taking the 4 pillar steps and then taking certain herbs you can fight off nasty viruses.
Taking these vitamins and herbs below will help as a preventative or if you feel you are going to be ill you can take these steps.
A garlic clove crushed and placed in bread with honey will seriously fight off a virus. If you can't face fresh garlic then you can buy garlic capsules or garlic juice from Wendy and taking garlic every day is a wonderful way to keep healthy.
Taking extra zinc will help as will taking in extra vitamin D that is known to fight off respiratory viruses. We should be taking around 4000 IU a day in the winter which can be obtained from a spray or tablets but if you think you are going to be ill you can increase the dose to 8000IU for around a week.
Elderberry and Echinacea have been proven to fight off colds and viruses so you can either buy these separate or take together as a tincture or syrup. I tend to take a spoonful of this every day in the winter as a defense but at the first sign of a virus I take it a few times a day to try and beat it off with a stick!
There is a Chinese herb called Astragalus which is a Chinese root and modern studies have shown that it boosts the immune system. You can either buy this from Budds in either a tincture or tablet form.
If you feel you have anxiety there are some great herbs you can take.
St Johns Wort is really good but it can mess with other meds so you must always speak to your healthcare professional before taking.
Passion Flower, Camomile Rose, Valerian and Lavender are all wonderful herbs that can help anxiety.
Ylang Ylang offers mood balancing benefits and can be used in aromatherapy to help even out your mood.
Deep breathing and doing things like Yoga and exercising all bring feel-good hormones to you when doing this regularly so can really help with mental health.
Wendy is available for consultations and a session with her is very reasonably priced where she can tailor a range of products to suit you.
As we are in lockdown now you can browse on the website to order and collect or have delivered by post. The Apothecary is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10-5pm.
Take care over winter and look after yourselves x
Wendy's Winter Warming and Detoxing Vegetable Soup Recipe
When it comes to cooking I very rarely follow a recipe, so do feel free to alter/adapt your soup however you prefer according to your own tastes.
1/2 pack of celery
3 cloves Garlic (more or less according to taste)
1/2 pack of chestnut mushrooms ( any mushrooms would do)
1/2 Large cauliflower chopped
1/2 chopped cabbage
1 pack Broccoli Chopped
1 pt. vegetable stock ( I used a stock pot x2 Knorr gluten free variety)
Bone broth would be preferable here.
1 tin of coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil ( any oil would work)
1 1/2 finger of fresh turmeric grated or 1 tsp of powdered turmeric. (You can leave this out is you wish)
A sprig of fresh rosemary
A couple sprigs fresh thyme (dried will also work)
Put on to heat your slow cooker. Meanwhile
chop the onion, garlic, celery. Fry in the coconut oil until softened.
Chop up the rest of the ingredients into nice chunks.
Add the onion carrot and celery mixture into the slow cooker.
Pour over the vegetable stock.
Add the other chopped vegetables, herbs and turmeric.
Cook for a couple of hours in the slow cooker.
Add the tin of coconut milk.
Add salt and pepper and chilli flakes to taste.
Cook for another hour or so until the flavours have combined and the vegetables are soft.
Keep leftovers in the fridge or freeze portions for another time.
By Louise O'Brien
Wendy Image by Carrie Lavers