Herbs for Holiday Stress & Anxiety
Nov 16, 2022
By Casie Giroux
The holidays can often be paired with an onset of stress and anxiety for many of us. Whether it’s finances, loneliness, packed schedules, family dynamics, or pressures – most of us can feel it. Herbs can help us better respond to stressful situations, calm us in the moment, or give us the energy we need to finish that endless holiday to-do list.
Below, I’ve compiled my favorite Apothékary blends and single herbs that I recommend taking (I know I will be!) during this celebratory yet stressful time.
Blends for the Holidays:
Chill the F Out is my go-to for deep nervous system support to help your body respond to stress before it happens. What does that mean? Ashwagandha and reishi are adaptogenic herbs that work on the nervous system to modulate our stress response when taken over time. When stress and anxiety are elevated, sleep is often directly impacted – clinical studies of ashwagandha have shown its ability to significantly improve sleep quality over time. So cozy up by the fire with a cup of Chill – it has tasting notes of peppermint hot cocoa on its own, but if you want full hot chocolate vibes, adding it to your favorite hot cocoa mix (or cacao powder with maple syrup and hot milk) creates a tasty after-dinner delicacy.
Stop Your Wine-ing is the perfect blend holiday celebrations or to take the edge off a long day. The main functional herbs in the blend, motherwort and jujube date, are nervines that help curb stress in the moment. Similar to a glass of wine, it can lead to calming vibes while also nourishing the nervous system. Motherwort has a particular affinity for the heart and can help reduce common anxiety symptoms like chest tightness, elevated heart rate, or general tension.
Blue Me Away is an energizing blend that also functions to help reduce our stress response. The primary functional herb in the blend is Siberian ginseng (also called eleuthero) which is a gently stimulating adaptogen. It gives you a boost of energy in the moment while also improving your stress response, cognitive function, and even innate immunity. Sometimes I take it as an alternative to my morning coffee, as a way to stimulate my brain while tampering down stress that can zap energy levels.
Single Herbs for the Holidays:
Schisandra berry is another adaptogen I like to add to my routine this time of year. It is unique, as it is the only adaptogenic herb that is also a berry. Its tart, bold flavor combines well with holiday-inspired beverages – try mixing it into a mulled apple cider for a note of tartness. When we are busy and stressed, our digestion can take a hit. The holiday season also often comes with its share of rich meals that can bring us out of balance. This dynamic berry has a special affinity for the gut microbiome – helping support our good gut bacteria and stimulating digestion along the entire digestive tract. If you are looking to curb feelings of stress while also supporting your digestive system – schisandra berry is the perfect addition to your routine.
Ashwagandha is one of the main herbs within Chill the F Out, but sometimes it’s beneficial to give your body an additional boost of deep nervous system nourishment when tensions are high—like when your holiday plans start to feel hectic. Combining a dose (1 tsp) of ashwagandha with your daily dose of Chill the F* Out can expand the nervous system benefits – like improving sleep quality, modulating stress response along the HPA axis, or improving energy levels and stamina. It is also beneficial on its own as a single herb to add in your morning cup of coffee, protein smoothie, or bowl of oatmeal.
Lion’s Mane mushroom is valuable for supporting immunity and cognition at all times of the year. But when we are overly stressed, immunity can be directly impacted. Adding a functional mushroom into our daily diet can help improve our immune response. In addition to the mushroom’s benefits for immunity and cognition – like memory and focus – it has also shown mood-elevating properties. If this time of year leads to common feelings of sadness for you, it can provide an internal boost. I like it first thing in the morning in my coffee or coffee alternative as an uplifting way to start the day.
In general, I recommend taking herbs at all times of the year ,but they are especially encouraged during periods of increased stress & anxiety. Stress can negatively impact almost every system in our bodies so taking steps to modulate our response to it is key to keeping us healthy and happy.
About Casie Giroux
Casie Giroux is a Clinical Herbalist with a background in communication sciences, herbal product formulation and creation, sustainable wildcrafting, teaching, and organic farming. She earned her certification through the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, CA. On the weekends you can find her playing in the garden, foraging for abundant plants, and camping by the water.