Be kind to yourself

By T. Heather Herdman, PhD, RN, FAAN

It seems that lately a lot of individuals are at the end of their rope. They’re fed up with work/school, tired of the kids whining, or of people complaining about this or that; they’re dealing with sick parents, sick children, sick spouses – or they’re sick themselves. It is so easy to get stuck in the rut of feeling overwhelmed, out of control, powerless. Also if you believe that words have meaning, the more we talk this way, the worse we feel, and the more negativity seems to come our way. It’s a real-life algorithm that isn’t far off of what we see in social media – the more we comment about something, the more we see comments that align with our own way of thinking.
I’m not suggesting we should be Pollyanna about life. Bad things happen. Stress is real. And we often cannot control what is happening around us – but we can control how we respond to it. And so this time of year,we’ve just survived the holidays and all the extra energy they consume, and we may be caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting ready to go back to school, dealing with work deadlines, or doing things that need to be done around the house. We may have family to care for, and…stop. Seriously – just stop. I want to encourage you to breathe. Take one minute – that’s right, just one minute – find the quietest place you can and for that one minute, just close your eyes and focus on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. You might be amazed at how that one minute can stop you from overreacting, lower your anxiety level, and ground you just a bit. Sometimes we get so caught up in caring for everyone else, meeting deadlines set by others, being as perfect as possible – that we forget to be kind to ourselves.
There’s an old adage, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.” So, let’s consider a second thing you can do for yourself – start to incorporate one or two adaptogenic herbs into your life. Adaptogens are herbs that have been found to help us readily adapt to life, and the changes that it brings by combating the negative effects of stress while improving our resistance and, therefore, improving our health and well-being (Yance, 2013). Technically, adaptogens are defined as “any substance that exerts effects on both sick and healthy individuals by ‘correcting’ any dysfunction(s) without producing unwanted side effects” (Davydov& Krikorian, 2000).
Ashwagandha (Withaniasomnifera) is one of my favorite adaptogens, and it has been shown to have immune-modulating effects, and has been found effective against multi-drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (Datta, Kumar Pal &Nandy, 2011). It has known anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to be a bone marrow restorative during and after chemotherapy. Although I often use it as a tea, I also like to cook with it.
So please, take some time to breathe, eat good (healthy) foods, and incorporate some adaptogens into your life – these are little things that can, over time, make a huge difference in how you feel. Be kind to yourself.
Enjoy this easy to prepare Potato Leek Soup that we often have available for our customers.
Potato & Leek Soup with Ashwagandha
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 TBS chopped garlic
4 leeks, sliced about ¼” wide
4 potatoes, chopped (no need to peel, just scrub them well)
10 cups stock (we use mushroom stock, but you could use vegetable or chicken)
1 cup cashews blended OR 8 TBS heavy cream
1 tsp Ashwagandha powder
Celery salt, to taste
Vegan or dairy-based cheese
Heat the oil in a large pan, add onions and leeks. Sauté about 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add potatoes and stir for 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add blended cashews or heavy cream, and use a hand blender to blend to a smooth texture. Season with celery salt and top with vegan or dairy-based cheese, if desired.
Datta, S., Kumar Pal, N.K., &Nandy, A.K. (2011). Inhibition of the emergence of multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus by Withaniasomnifera root extracts. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 4(11), 917-20.
Davydov, M. & Krikorian, A.D. (2000). Maxim. Araliaceae as an adaptogen: a closer look. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 72, 345-93.
Yance, D. R. (2013). Adaptogens in medical herbalism: Elite herbs and natural compounds for mastering stress, aging, and chronic disease. VT: Healing Arts Press.

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