School holidays are here, and parents often feel absolutely exhausted by the end of the two weeks just trying to keep up with the kids! Here are some simple tricks from health scientist and registered medical herbalist Sandra Clair you can try to keep your energy levels up and make the most of the time you have.
School holidays can be a difficult time for parents: finding things for the kids to do, keeping the peace, and then trying to keep your sanity. Plant medicine has many options to help support us through those times that require a little more energy and patience.
Liquorice is one of the best plants to support your adrenals. It helps to boost your energy levels restoratively, but not in an overly stimulating way like caffeine or ginseng does.
Liquorice has a great affinity with your nervous system and helps to work on the stress hormones that we secrete. It helps you to adapt to stress, be it physical or mental - hence why it is called an adaptogen. Another great feature of liquorice is that it is naturally sweet, so it helps to reduce the need to reach for a sweet treat in the afternoon when we need a sugar hit.
Passionflower is a traditional choice for helping to help calm people down, so it works well for anxiety. Throughout the day, our stress levels can get out of hand and we can over-produce cortisol in a reaction to what is going on. Cortisol contributes to the fight or flight reaction that we use to get out of stressful situations, which is great when a car is about to hit us but not so ideal when we are constantly producing it in response to daily stressors like screaming children or a messy house. Passionflower helps reduce feelings of nervous tension and irritability.
Lavender is often associated with helping people sleep, however, it can help with reducing feelings of nervous tension and restlessness too. It can also help those that get tension headaches from stress. It can assist with worry, nervousness and lowering stress levels.
Lemon Balm supports the nervous system and helps with reducing worry and stress too.
Plants that work on the nervous system help to reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, reducing the "tired but wired" feeling people might get when they are trying to get to sleep.
Often, high levels of stress inhibit sleep, leading the person to feel exhausted but wide awake. This is why it is important to have regular and consistent amounts throughout the day to gradually work on these levels before sleeping becomes a problem.
Try to establish a relatively set time in the chaos to take a break and replenish your reserves.
This can be when the kids are outside playing or at the movies - it gives you a chance to breathe and relax.
Regular consumption of the above plants will help reduce your cortisol levels and the overall feeling of stress.
All the best for the next few busy weeks. If you feel like that you are finding it hard to cope with the stress, it is best to consult your leading medical provider for assistance.
This story was originally published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.