About the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

Herbal Academy just created yet another wonderful online course that I completed this month, earning me yet another little badge for my student dashboard. I’m so proud of me! This course was entitled Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management and had tons of useful information on the topic.  

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Stress is something we all experience at one time or another, for short periods of time (work deadlines) or longer periods of time (being a caretaker for a chronically ill loved one).  This course emphasized the importance of holistic care in treating the whole body and mind and, in this case, using herbs in order to become well after being subjected to periods of stress.  Can you see why I loved this class?

The course was divided into 3 units. Unit 1 presented information about how stress affects the body both physically and emotionally. Financial problems, time constraints, social interactions, cultural stressors (poverty, oppression, marginalization), natural disasters, traumatic events, excessive screen time, air, noise or light pollution, and infections are all stressors and activate that “flight or fight” survival mode. Being in a stressful “flight or fight” mode changes the rhythm of your heartbeat, inhibits proper digestion, alters breathing patterns, and raises blood sugar, none of which are conducive to a healthy body long term.  

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Unit 2 was full of suggestions on changing your diet in order to reduce the effects of stress on the body.  (See Food as Medicine) I was surprised to see how strong the gut-brain connection really is.  Adding prebiotic (whole grains such as wheat and rye, legumes, alliums like onions, garlic and leeks, bananas, asparagus, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, dandelion, burdock roots) and probiotic (yogurt and milk kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured pickles, miso and other fermented soy products like tempeh, and fermented drinks like kombucha and water kefir) foods to your diet will certainly help you reach a more balanced state of wellness. (See also Gut Health Super Bundle, Garlic Tea, and Herbal Fermentation) Making food from scratch, including bitters in your diet, ensuring proper hydration, taking the time to enjoy your meal without distractions, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners are also great suggestions for improving gut health.  The course included several printouts highlighting trace nutrients the body needs to reduce or eliminate the physical and emotional effects of stress.

In addition to dietary recommendations, lifestyle alterations can really make a difference to your health.  Adding practices, like mindful breathing, yoga, and Tai Chi have been shown to reduce stress.  Here, try one now.

Other things you can do to improve your health generally involve spending more time in nature and bettering your social support system.  I don’t mean more friends on Facebook, but improving the quality of your relationships.  I’ll talk more about these in an upcoming post on the Happiness Course I finished recently.

Unit 2 also had a good introduction to aromatherapy and essential oils as they relate to stress and self-care including a list of herbs shown to be most effective for a variety of stress-induced ailments.  Lavender tops the list in several categories. The course provided recipes for several aromatherapy herbal blends to try out.

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After addressing safety issues and possible drug interactions, Unit 3 outlined three types of herbs most beneficial for stress-reduction application: nervines, adaptogens, and sedatives.  Nervines are herbs that influence the nervous system in some way. Chamomile and lemon balm are nervines. Adaptogens, also known as Qi tonics or Rasayana, are herbs that assist natural adaptive responses to stress.  Licorice is an adaptogen.  Sedatives are herbs that can sedate the central and peripheral nervous systems. Hops and valerian are sedatives. There was also a section on how to make infusions, decoctions, tinctures, and tea blends using the 17 herbs highlighted.

The more I delve into herbal lore, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn.  Once upon a time, herbal remedies, medicines, and tonics were carefully preserved generation after generation. These days, it’s so easy to rely on pharmaceuticals when illness strikes and the continuity of natural healing has been lost.  What I really appreciated most about this course was that using herbs for wellness wasn’t presented as a miracle cure-all, rather incorporating herbs is only one aspect of healthy living.  The lifestyle that many live is not conducive to optimal wellness. Perhaps it’s time to take a moment and find balance.

Partial Lesson Excerpt – Herbal Academy Course on Stress Management Course

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Surviving Mexico on Instagram

guadalajara mountains

Did you know that for the past few years I’ve been posting the natural landscapes and colors of central Mexico on Instagram?  Really.  I have nearly 600 pictures uploaded to the site.

blue morning glory

Recently I ordered prints of most of those snapshots and sent them to my mother to enjoy.  She doesn’t have an Instagram account.  She told me enjoy them she did!

fuzzy rock flower

I know the picture quality isn’t the best.  I’m using my phone after all and I am by no means a professional photographer. I did purchase my latest cell phone because of its improved quality photographs (it’s a Polaroid phone) But mostly, it helps that Mexico is breathtakingly beautiful.

amoles road

I take pictures of things that catch my eye, which are not necessarily things that are commonly considered attractive.  For instance, I took a picture of this hillside because it looked like an alligator to me.

alligator mountain

If you notice, there is not one single picture of me at Surviving Mexico on Instagram. Nope, I’m not a Selfie girl. Instead, what you will see, is Mexico through my eyes. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

purple water lilies

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Cat Walk

With my new and improved schedule (See Transition Year), I am able to take a morning walk and sometimes an afternoon and evening walk.  Puppy absolutely adores our walks.  He’s able to sniff every corner, expand his marked territory and run off bigger and badder dogs emboldened by my presence.

Sometimes my husband or son go with me.  After all, it’s just not fitting that women walk alone in Mexico.  I shrug.  I’m only going around the block and there isn’t any real danger that Puppy can’t handle.  But if they want to come, that’s ok too.

I take my camera just in case there’s something worthy of posting on Instagram later.  Sometimes I find some pretties.  Sometimes I don’t.  One day I found 7 tomatoes that fell off the produce truck.  Salsa!  Another day I found a bag of grouting the exact color we are using to finish the second floor.  Score!

We recently brought Kitty from the little house in Sunflower Valley to La Yacata.  She’d gotten too big to be content in the enclosed space.  She SO wanted to go outside and lay in the grass.  When we didn’t allow that, she would literally throw a fit on the floor, meowing and rolling about.  So, we moved her to the backyard in La Yacata and she was happy for awhile.

She noticed that while Puppy is inside at night, at first light, he got to go outside.  Inch by inch she gathered her courage and moved toward the door.  After a few days of watching Puppy and I go for our walk, she ventured beyond the gate.  She decided she’d come with us.  

She complained the entire time!  Having been an inside cat since kittenhood, this was a LONG walk for her.  She was a bit out of shape.  But she stuck with us and made it around the block.

Puppy didn’t much like the new walk companion.  I mean really, she carried on so.  Then she’d get lost in the tall grass and get hysterical so he’d have to go and find her.  So he tried to discourage her from going on the walk with us.  

Eventually, she stopped accompanying us.  Instead, she comes out when we head off and waits by the door.  She knows that eventually we’ll come back and feed her.  Puppy’s satisfied with this arrangement as well.  Glad we could work that out.

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Baby the Sheep

So my husband got it in his head that borregos (sheep) are more profitable than goats.  It is true that borregos sold by the kilo are more expensive BUT they are a smaller animal, so overall there are fewer kilos to be had.  Disregarding my logic, he went ahead and traded our macho goat for a young borrega and her borregita.

I continued my naysaying despite the now physical presence of more borregos.  Borregos carry on something awful whether or not they are hungry. (See Separating the Sheep from the Goats They are more delicate healthwise.  (See Birth and Death)  They need more care than goats.  They don’t eat as varied a diet as goats so food during the dry season will be harder to find.  All to no avail.

The young borrega managed to come down with a BAD case of chorro (diarrhea) probably from the change of diet from her previous home to ours.  This affected little borregita because the mama’s milk all but dried up during her illness.  So three days after purchase, it was looking like borregita wasn’t going to make it.  She was listless.  She became weaker and weaker until she could no longer stand.  It was pitiful.  My husband debated whether it would be kinder to just kill her.

I objected.  Surely there was another option.  We’ve had orphaned babies before on our mini-rancho.  I convinced him to try and nurse her back to health.  We bought a bottle and some milk, mixed with suero (electrolytes) to feed her.

The difference was marked almost immediately.  The second day of bottle feeding she could lift her head and bleated to let my husband (now named Papa Chivo–yes she’s a borrego but Papa Borrego doesn’t roll off the tongue as well) she was ready for more milk.

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My husband and son alternated bottle feedings and the borreguita was christened Baby so that when she hollered in the middle of the night I could shake my husband awake and say “Go feed Baby.”  After about a week of milk, she started to show an interest in the paca (alfalfa bales).  So feedings were supplemented with a bit of alfalfa and some ground maiz sorgo mixed with milk like a cereal.

It took about a week for her to try and stand but as soon as she could wobble about she demanded to be taken out with the rest of the herd.  She couldn’t keep up, so my husband had to carry her.  She was content as could be munching on the grass she could reach while resting and watching the gang graze.  Mama borrega was happy as well.  She was a nervous Nelly when she had to leave Baby behind.  Maybe that’s what we’ll call her–Nelly.

We had every hope that Baby would make a full recovery.  However, one morning she was again laying on the ground bleating piteously.  She didn’t suffer long.  She died just a few hours later.

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