3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

The holidays needn’t be a time of relentless hustle, bustle, and unfulfilled, unrealistic expectations. It is easy enough to get swept up in the pressure and commercialism of the holiday season. Even for the most centered among us, you may find yourself getting stressed out about gifts for loved ones or pressured to be merry and bright at holiday gatherings, regardless of your true emotional state. And then, after all the holiday pressure and overindulgence, there is the boomerang effect of guilt and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. However, I have good news! It is, in fact, possible to enjoy the best of the holidays and to enter the new year with ease, simplicity, grace, and acceptance. It is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons

1. Give Simple Gifts

I grew up in a family that enjoyed the traditions of Christmas to the fullest. I fondly remember the holidays and recall a brightly decorated tree, overflowing Christmas stockings, traditional Cioppino on Christmas Eve, and the titillating excitement of wondering what Santa would bring. Every year, my grandmother would take my three siblings and me to pick out a new Christmas ornament for the tree, and we would wander the ornament shop for what seemed like hours, painstakingly selecting the decoration that most spoke to our young hearts. Some 30 odd years later, I still own many of those ornaments, and each one reminds me of my grandmother’s kindness and patience, as well as sharing in the holiday excitement with my two brothers and one sister.

As my siblings and I matured into adulthood, marriages, jobs, and grad school spread us out across the country, and our holiday traditions have changed with the times and in an effort to simplify life during hectic seasons like Christmas. However, it is my feeling that the heart of the holidays has remained intact in our family, and I believe our practices in simplicity and flexibility have assisted in that.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

One such example is our tradition of gift giving. Perhaps more than a decade ago, my parents, siblings, and I decided to simplify our Christmas gifts. Each family member is assigned to give to one other family member. This practice eventually evolved so that the gifts were restricted to handmade goods only. We rotate who gives to whom each year, and I find this to be a wonderful way to spend time really thinking about the person to whom I am gifting. The gifts are unveiled on Christmas Eve, and each year we marvel at the creativity and care of each offering, no matter how humble. These handmade treasures have included a terrarium; handmade jewelry; hand-drawn, screen-printed clothing; paintings and photography; and delightful edibles such as homemade truffles, a kitcheree making kit, cranberry chutney, and pineapple salsa.  

Last year, I made Kate O’Donnell’s Sunbutter Truffles as a gift for my father-in-law. I highly recommend these delightfully creamy, simple truffles as a gift or addition to your holiday spread.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

Sunbutter Truffles

These truffles feature sunflower butter, which is considered in Ayurveda to be lighter and easier to digest than peanut butter. Sunbutter truffles also contain an adaptogenic boost of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for extra resilience around the holidays.

[recipe_ingredients]

Filling:

2 tsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root

Chocolate Coating:

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons cacao powder
Shredded coconut for outside (optional)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Mix together melted coconut oil, sunflower butter, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add almond meal, cinnamon, and ashwagandha. Mix well. Cover the mixture and freeze for 45 minutes.
  • To make the chocolate coating, combine 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil with maple syrup and cacao powder in a warm saucepan. The coating must remain liquid for dipping, so working out of a warmed saucepan helps.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the sunflower butter filling from the freezer, and shape into one-inch size balls, dropping them one at a time into the chocolate coating mix. Coat sunbutter balls evenly (using two spoons helps). Once coated, place them onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle with a bit of dried, shredded coconut if you like. These wonderful truffles are creamy, simple, and divine. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat!

[/recipe_directions]

I share my family’s traditions not to dictate what you and your loved ones should do. It is merely to plant the seed for ways that you might be able to simplify life during hectic seasons so you can relish the joy of the holidays, and hopefully, reduce pressure and stress. I think my family members will agree that by changing this one aspect of how we celebrate, we have become more liberated to enjoy the holidays, and we also suffer less from the stress and financial strain that can accompany the pressures of extravagant gift giving.

2. Let Go. Do Less.

Whatever your traditions may be, winter can provide a wonderful opportunity for reflection, release, and rethinking about what really matters. Something that I love about the holidays is that our collective priorities seem to shift. Professional ambition gets a chance to take a back seat to social engagements and quality time with the family. As we take time away from work and day to day responsibilities in order to celebrate and connect with dear ones, it seems there is a common understanding that productivity is slowed and that it is a time to rest, retreat, and revel allowing us the perfect opportunity to further simplify life during hectic seasons. I would like to emphasize that the choice about what to do with this special time of year lies with you. For some, time away from work is not an option, but if you have that luxury, I suggest you take a moment to truly consider what you want to do with the gift of downtime. What are the traditions that you want to invent, adhere to, or toss aside with the outgoing year?

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

There may be an unspoken pressure to follow suit when it comes to holiday traditions. However, interestingly enough, when one person leads the way in the rethinking and simplification of rituals, that choice often takes the pressure off others, and everyone can enjoy the freedom of eased expectations. For instance, I have shared my family’s gift-giving tradition with friends who have then been inspired to adopt it among their circles. When we encounter ritual, therein lies the perfect opportunity to explore and question what we want to keep and what actions are motivated purely by obligation, expectation, or even guilt.

3. Enjoy The Space Between

It may be comforting to listen to messages from nature as the days turn dark and cold. You may delight in festive food and twinkling lights (I do!), and yet, it is also helpful to remember that winter signifies the end of the life cycle. It is a barren time, and in many ways, time for stripping away, letting go, and reflecting on the year that has gone by. I often feel a tinge of sadness in the quiet days between Christmas and the new year. It amazes me how quickly the years pass, and perhaps I am simply feeling the existential melancholy that comes along with all human shortcomings. I am keenly aware of all that I failed to do and all the unexpected surprises, twists, and turns that the road of life has taken me on. Yet, in this quiet window, when the noise of holiday gatherings dies down, I can often get a glimpse at humbling self-acceptance, and that type of acceptance is relieving. With the pressure to do, be, and create temporarily lifted, there is a chance to realize that we are not our accomplishments. There is a beauty in the quiet, the stillness, and the space between, and in this space, one can find ways to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

Rather than making stringent or grandiose New Year’s resolutions that will be forgotten by Valentine’s Day, the dawn of a new year can be viewed as the ideal time to enjoy some quiet reflection and to clear the way for the activities of the year to come. A few new year’s practices that I enjoy are taking time for silence, cleaning house, throwing away to-do lists, and retreating to somewhere quiet and restful for a few days.

Silence has a wonderful purifying effect, and you don’t have to go on a retreat to practice it. A decision as simple as choosing not to speak from sundown to sunrise for a few days can be a lovely way to reset and step away from the noise. The post-holiday time is also a great chance to purge the excess from your home. Excess clothing, odds and ends, and unnecessary paperwork can all be tossed out, donated, or recycled to make space for the freshness of the new year. I find the transition from one year to the next to be a good time to reassess my to-do lists and expectations. If there are tasks that are truly important, I try to accomplish them before the start of the new year. However, I may look at what I set out to do and realize that some of it can be put off, crossed out, or simply thrown out.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

In regards to to-do lists, a lawyer friend once shared his experience after leaving a high-stress job at a law firm. He was cleaning out his desk and came across a long list full of tasks that he never accomplished. He then realized that although he had never done any of those things, nobody else ever cared or even noticed. He was still completely successful at his job and moving on willingly. Seasonal transitions, as well as life transitions, provide a prime opportunity for revamping, releasing, and making space to rethink our true intentions for the road ahead.

My message to you as you clean up holiday messes, return from travel, and transition into the year to come, is don’t rush in. Before you get caught up in the collective ambition of the new year, enjoy a little time to exhale and pause. Take a moment of silence, a walk in the snow, turn off your phone, throw away your to-do list, and hang out in the in-between for a moment. When you reflect on the year gone by, and all that there is to do and become, I suggest you consider how you can simplify and what you can let go of. By doing so, you give permission for others to do the same, and perhaps we can all move closer to a state of purity and grace as we strive to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

REFERENCES

O’Donnell, K. (2015). The everyday Ayurveda cookbook. Boulder, CO: Shambala Publications, Inc.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase. Anyone who has suffered from chronic insomnia or disturbed sleep is well aware of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep not only compromises your outward appearance. It wreaks havoc on your metabolism, mental alertness, emotional balance, and even memory (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018). Sound sleep is vital for whole body health. Both modern science and ancient wellness systems, such as Ayurveda, underscore this truth.

The ancient ayurvedic sages placed sound sleep at such a high premium that it was deemed an essential pillar of health, along with good digestion and effective energy management. In fact, the Charaka Samhita, one of Ayurveda’s pivotal classical texts, states that by upholding these three pillars, the strength of body and good complexion are preserved even until the very end of one’s lifespan (Dash, 2014).

Although you may intuitively know this, stress, schedules, and a number of other factors may interfere with getting the rest you need. This article will explore lifestyle hacks for sound sleep so that you can wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day.

The Science of Sleep

In addition to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, there is mounting scientific evidence to support the value of sound sleep. In fact, not so long ago, an entirely new bodily system that plays a key role in sleep was discovered. It is known as the glymphatic system, and it functions as a waste clearance mechanism, removing metabolic and protein wastes from the brain while you sleep. This curious system may also be involved in distributing nutrients, such as amino acids, lipids, and glucose to brain cells (Jessen et al., 2015). The interesting thing about the glymphatic system is that it only functions while we sleep. Sleep that is regular, ample in quantity, and timed with the natural rhythms of dark and light, keeps this waste clearance system functioning as it should. The result? Sleep that feels restful, as well as clear thinking and a healthier nervous system. When the glymphatic process is disturbed, the consequences may be as serious as exacerbated neurological disease (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

Of course, getting sleep of adequate quantity and quality is easier said than done. If you find that your sleep is less than stellar, these five lifestyle hacks will help put you back on track.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

1. Be Consistent

One trick to attaining sound sleep is regularity. In Ayurveda, restless sleep and insomnia are often linked to an imbalance in vata dosha, which is associated with the wind element, as well as movement (Frawley, 2000). Vata dosha is easily imbalanced by changes in routine. Irregular lifestyle patterns such as frequent travel and irregular work schedules tend to throw vata dosha out of balance, resulting in sleep troubles. Regular sleeping times and good sleep hygiene (such as the sound sleep hacks describes in this article) help soothe the nervous system and keep vata dosha pacified and less likely to wreak havoc on sleep patterns.

The ayurvedic teachings around the importance of sleep routines correspond with the concept of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the natural rhythms of the body and correlate to the cycles of day and night. It is natural to sleep at night and to awaken with the light of day. When circadian rhythms are thrown out of whack, a number of health issues may ensue, such as being at a higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer (Palanisamy, 2015).

According to Ayurveda, not everyone needs the same exact amount of sleep. You may have noticed this for yourself anecdotally. Vata types tend to need the most sleep, kaphas the least, and pitta types fall somewhere in the middle. Kapha types may also benefit from getting up a bit earlier; too much sleep exacerbates their naturally slower constitutions, causing sluggishness and lethargy. On the other hand, the more delicate nervous systems of vata types require maximum rest and rejuvenation. It is especially important that ravenous pittas are not up in the middle of the night, as they are particularly prone to late night eating, which only leads to an imbalance in their digestion, liver, and sleep patterns. Ayurveda teaches that “early to bed and early to rise” is best for everyone. This means that getting up around sunrise is ideal for all, with slight variations depending on one’s constitutional type (Svoboda, 2010).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

2. Unplug

This lifestyle hack for sound sleep is a game changer. It’s important to give your nervous system time to unwind before bedtime. Just like stopping a fast moving car, it’s not easy to slam on the brakes when you are traveling 100 miles per hour. The same is true for your nervous system. Easing, rather than crashing, into to sleep is generally far more effective.

Why? Melatonin is the reason. Melatonin is important for immune function and sleep quality. Melatonin is released by the pineal gland, and it plays a major role in signaling your nervous system to calm down. Interestingly enough, light exposure, particularly the blue light emitted by screens, prevents the release of melatonin. Therefore, the more time you can spend in dark or dim lighting before bed, the better your chances of falling gently into a sound sleep. Using lamps and area lights in the evening, rather than bright overhead lights is helpful. Also, light bulbs with an orange or red hue are preferable to white or bluish light. Apps, such as f.lux, that adjust your computer screen light throughout the day are useful as well. Ideally, turning away from computer screens and phones in the late evening, and instead of picking up a book, taking a hot bath, or doing other relaxing screen-free activities will help send your nervous system the message to calm down and prepare for sleep (Palanisamy, 2015).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

3. Eat Better to Sleep Better

Refraining from late night snacking will not only assist with weight management, but this healthy habit also helps you sleep better. Even your fat cells have a circadian rhythm. Research shows that eating less at night can assist in weight loss (Garaulet et al., 2013). This is consistent with the ayurvedic recommendation to have your largest meal at lunchtime, which is attributed to the ayurvedic teaching that one’s agni, or digestive fire, is strongest at midday. Also, by eating lightly at night, you give your body the chance to focus on detoxification and restoration during the night, rather than digestion. Furthermore, by normalizing your metabolic circadian rhythms, you have a better chance at bringing all of your circadian rhythms into balance, lining up patterns of eating, sleeping, and waking (Palanisamy, 2015).

4. Keep cool

Though hot summer days may leave you sleepy, our best sleep is attained in a slightly cool environment. The ideal recommended room temperature ranges from 60 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit with pajamas and in the mid-80’s without pajamas and just a sheet as covering (Onin, Bailey & Parquet, 1994). Furthermore, keeping a cool head may especially help with sound sleep. This is a rather amusing sound sleep hack. One study showed that sleep quality was significantly improved in 16 males who were subjected to head and neck cooling in a hot environment (Lan et al., 2018). If you have the option to regulate your bedroom’s temperature, keeping it on the cool side may help you rest more thoroughly. If not, consider a cool shower or applying a cool washcloth to the head and neck before bed for a soothing, soporific effect.  

5. Consider Herbal Support

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

There are a plethora of herbs that can assist in getting a good night’s rest. Ashwagandha, with its nourishing, tonifying capacities is a great place to start. This starchy root is an ayurvedic classic for all types of nervous system disturbances. Ashwagandha is soothing for a range of imbalances including insomnia, fatigue, general debility, tissue deficiency, poor eyesight, and anxiety. Ashwagandha may not correct sleep immediately, but due to its nourishing and stabilizing effects on the nervous system, it will help normalize sleep cycles over time. One great thing about ashwagandha is that it is safe to take in rather large doses—anywhere from 1-9 grams per day (Dass, 2013). To maximize the root’s strengthening and soothing effects, it is helpful to consume in powdered form. For ease of consumption, you can mix powdered ashwagandha into hot water, hot milk, or a hearty warm grain cereal.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

If you are looking for an herb with potent sedative effects, valerian may be for you. Valerian is a powerful sleep aid and also has the ability to soothe anxiety and relax tense muscles. Since valerian can cause drowsiness, it is best to take only in the evenings, about 30 to 60 minutes before bed. This strong smelling root can be taken as a liquid extract or in dried powdered form (generally best swallowed in capsules). The suggested dosage is 3-9 grams of dried whole root and 2-6 mL of liquid extract (Mills & Bone, 2000). Some ayurvedic practitioners caution against long-term use of valerian, as it can exacerbate depression, melancholy, and mental lethargy (Dass, 2013). Also, oddly enough, some people find that valerian has a heating and stimulating effect rather than a sedative effect. This is a simple testament to the ayurvedic tenant that nothing is right for everyone. Always listen to your body and be willing to adapt your herbal supports based on your own felt experience.

Skullcap (Scutellaria)

Whereas ashwagandha and valerian are both warm and somewhat heavy herbs, skullcap is light, bitter, and cool. However, it is also a great nervous system soother. Skullcap is classically used as support for a host of imbalances including nervous tension, stress, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, tremors, and addiction. For vata types who require deep nervous system nourishment, it can be combined with heaver herbs such as ashwagandha or valerian. Though skullcap is helpful as a sound sleep hack, it can also be taken during the day to calm a stressed mind or jittery nervous system. As a tincture, you can take 30-60 drops up to three times per day or 1-9 grams of the dried aerial portion (Dass, 2013).

If getting your zzz’s is a challenge, with the help of these sound sleep hacks, we hope you will find your way back to restful and rejuvenating sleep.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

REFERENCES

Albrecht, U., & Ripperger, J.A. (2018). Circadian clocks and sleep: Impact of rhythmic metabolism and waste clearance on the brain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30274603

Dash, B., & Sharma, R.K. (2014). Caraka Samhita (Vol. 1). Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology: East and west. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Frawley, D. (2000). Ayurvedic healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Garaulet, M., Gomez-Abellan, P., Alburquerque-Bejar, J.J., Lee, Y.C., Ordovas, J.M., & Scheer, F.A. (2013). Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International Journal of Obesity, 37(4):604-11. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.229.

Jessen, N.A., Munk, S.A., Lundgaard, I., & Nedergaard, M. (2015). The glymphatic system: A beginners guide. Neurochemisty Research, 40(12):2583-99. doi: 10.1007/s11064-015-1581-6.

Lan, L., Qian, X.L., Lian, Z.W., & Lin, Y.B. (2018). Local body cooling to improve sleep quality and thermal comfort in a hot environment. Indoor Air, 28(1):135-145. doi: 10.1111/ina.12428.

Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone.

Nedeltcheva, A.V., & Scheer, F.A. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 21(4):293-8. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000082.

Onen, S.H., Onen, F., Bailly, D., & Parquet, P. (1994). Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits. La Presse Médicale,  23(10):485-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8022726

Palanisamy, A. (2015). The paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Svoboda, R. (1999). Prakriti: Your ayurvedic constitution. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Over the last few years, the Danish concept of hygge has become downright trendy. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary shortlisted it as one of the most influential words of 2016. And, since research states that Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, it seems that hygge bears paying attention to. But what exactly is this strange sounding word, and when you embrace hygge during the long, cold winter, can it help bolster your happiness over the dark days ahead?

What exactly is Hygge?

Hygge is not only tricky to say, but it’s also tough to define.

Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-ga, it loosely translates to “coziness” or “comfort.” However, it’s more than just a word. In Denmark, where the term originates, it is more of a way of life that represents “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people” (What is Hygge, para 2).  

According to translator ToveMare Stakkestad, “hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt” (Elliott, 2017, p. 29).

Choosing to embrace hygge can mean different things, such as cuddling up by a warm fire, enjoying a lovely dinner with family and friends, or relishing a refreshing walk in nature. It remains a concept that is difficult to define but easy to recognize. At its essence, hygge is all about feeling good and appreciating life.

Signe Johansen, the author of How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, says the core of hygge is in knowing that one must make the most of the time they have in this world and to be kind to ourselves and others (Johansen, 2016).

On the other hand, what hygge is is just as important as what it is not. Hygge is not a product you can buy or a service to subscribe to. Once the concept gained popularity, it “quickly became a marketing buzzword to sell Scandi-cool items, such as tea-light candles, fluffy throws and woven hats” (McDonough, 2018, para. 1). In our consumer-based world, be wary of brands trying to sell you things with the promise of “hygge-style” happiness. Hygge is a feeling that cannot be bought.

How to Embrace Hygge

While hygge can be challenging to define, there are some basic tenets to this feeling of warmth, comfort, and happiness. To embrace hygge is to appreciate the small things in life and savor what you have rather than focus on what you lack. As author Louisa Thomsen Brits (2017) states, “hygge is about being, not having” (p. 7).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Home

Due to the cold and darkness, the Danes spend a lot of their time indoors during the winter, making them particularly aware of their surroundings. Think of your home as your hygge headquarters. But, remember that it’s not just about aesthetics. Your home should have a warm, welcome vibe especially since entertaining is very hygge. Nearly every home in Denmark has what is called a hyggerkrog, which loosely translates to a “nook.”

According to Meik Wiking, author of the popular book, The Little Book of Hygge, as well as founder and CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Institute, “it is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea” (Wiking, 2017, p. 96). When creating your hyggerkrog think comfy cushions, warm blanket, and soft natural light. Although it does not have to be near a window, light is critical to hygge.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Light

Lighting is essential in order to embrace hygge. Natural light, that is — particularly in the winter when we get less sunlight (which is in short supply during Danish winters). To embrace hygge during the day, open the curtains and blinds to let as much natural light in as possible. At night, use candles and twinkle lights to create a cozy vibe. A burning fire is peak hygge, but don’t worry if you lack a fireplace, you can recreate the vibe with candles and soft lighting.

Wiking explains that unscented candles are critical in the effort to embrace hygge, simply stating “no candles, no hygge.” He even cites that the Danes burn 13 pounds of candle wax per person, per year, even in places such as classrooms and office buildings (Wiking, 2017, p. 100). “Where Americans see a fire hazard, the Danes see an antidepressant” (Green, 2016, para 10).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Nature

Rather than despairing over the long, cold winter, the Danes embrace and enjoy it. In addition to being essential to our overall wellbeing, appreciating nature is very hygge. Instead of dreading the colder weather, welcome it hygge-style by getting out and enjoying the fresh air every day. While you might not be interested in hitting the slopes, a quick walk to the end of the street or short nature hike (even in the snow) can boost your spirits. Just remember to dress warmly.

Beyond spending time outside, bring nature inside by incorporating natural elements into your home — flowers, plants, branches, pinecones, leaves, petals, pods, twigs, driftwood, shells, feathers. This is another way to connect with the organic beauty of the world around you and embrace hygge. 

Senses

Embracing hygge is a sensory experience. It is about being open and aware, embracing and enjoying. Hygge is comfort. While you might not be able to put your finger on it, most of us can recognize a hygge feeling or environment.

“There is no formula, no sum of obvious material parts to be blotted together, but if we create conditions that appeal to our senses, we ground ourselves in the moment and harness hygge” (Brits, 2017, p. 93-94).

Getting in touch with all of our senses allows us to truly appreciate our surroundings. Wiking refers to this as “the five dimensions of hygge” (Wiking, 2017, p.195). Hot beverages, comfort food, natural surroundings, peaceful music, a snuggly blanket, and a warm fire are all elements of hygge that awaken our senses. Cuddling up next to a loved one with a cup of hot herbal tea and a good book is hygge heaven. Anything that soothes the spirit can be considered hygge.

How will you use your senses to embrace hygge?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Comfort and Nourishment

In addition to appealing to our senses, food plays a vital role in hygge. Gathering around the table for dinner with family and friends or enjoying a delicious meal both land high on the list of hygge basics. Socializing with others — usually over a sumptuous meal — is the perfect defense against isolation during the winter. “Sharing a meal is the epitome of hygge. It brings us together, nourishing our bodies and spirits” (Brits, 2017, p. 107).

When it comes to food, the Danes don’t stress over calorie intake, so ignore the fear of indulging and think more about savoring. When you embrace hygge, you can balance special meals with plenty of outdoor exercise for happiness and wellbeing.

“Food is merely the vehicle for gathering around a common table to chat and laugh, which is sure to lift the spirits. Spending time with family and friends is the real nourishment” (Elliott, 2017, p. 31).

Embrace Hygge This Winter

Although hygge does not have a definitive English translation, its spirit can easily be translated into our daily lives. Now that you understand the basics of this cozy concept, how will you embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this the winter?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

REFERENCES

Brits, L.T. (2017). The book of hygge: The Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection. New York, NY: Plume.

Elliott, A. (2017). Hygge for all. Vibrant Life, Vol.33, Issue 6. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A512184277/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC

Green, P. (2016). Wintering the Danish way: Learning about hygge. International New York Times. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A474972226/SPN.SP24?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=SPN.SP24&xid=8c149172

Johansen, S. (2016). How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life. New York: NY, St. Martin’s Press.

McDonough, M. (2018). What’s all the hygge? Global habits gain U.S. fans. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A540929851/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC&xid=8c023dcc

VisitDenmark.co.uk. What is Hygge? (n.d.) What is Hygge? Retrieved from: https://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/culture/hygge-meaning

Wiking, M. (2017). The little book of hygge: Danish secrets to happy living. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

5 Herbal Lifestyle Books To Read This Year

5 Herbal Lifestyle Books To Read This Year | Herbal Academy | If incorporating herbalism into your lifestyle is appealing to you, here are 5 of our favorite herbal lifestyle books to help you get started!

There are many paths to herbalism. Some of us may have had a more direct path stemming from a pure interest in botany, foraging, or making herbal preparations. Others, in efforts to nourish our bodies with more natural, simple ingredients, may have stumbled across the herbal approach as a happy accident. As our understanding of herbalism grows deeper, we can begin to recognize these threads for what they are and weave them together into a cohesive holistic lifestyle.  

The herbal lifestyle books we’ve rounded up here each represent a specific area to apply your herbal practice to, including body care, aromatherapy and stress relief, holistic pregnancy, family wellness, and even natural house care. We chose these because each of them stand out as the go-to resource for their respective topics. They all provide comprehensive foundations for the complete novice, as well as a variety of effective, time-tested recipes to engage practitioners at any level, promising a sound investment of time and money.

If you are brand new to herbalism, these herbal lifestyle books offer practical entry-points into this fascinating world of plant wisdom. If you are further into your studies, these areas of study offer the opportunity to experience the actions and benefits of herbal allies in a new context. The best solutions are often the simplest ones, provided by the wise balance inherent to nature. In integrating these herbal principles into your daily life, you invite more of this natural balance and simplicity to your daily existence. We hope these resources inspire you to incorporate herbalism into your daily rituals.

5 Herbal Lifestyle Books to Read this Year

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  1. Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles

For those of us who feel like some herbal beauty care recipe books may just skim the surface, this book takes a luxurious dive into all areas of the topic. Starting with a well-rounded introduction to the science behind skin, hair, and nails, Tourles also shares basic ways to support ourselves with care and nutrition. She very practically reminds us of how the skin absorbs nutrients (and toxins), giving us all the more motivation to favor natural and simple ingredients rather than harsh chemicals. Building on this, she introduces us to our new friends from natural apothecaries, including herbs, carrier oils, essential oils, and the necessary tools we’ll need to create the 175 recipes included in the book.

Recipes are organized into sections covering face and body care, hair care, feminine care, support for stress, colds, and headaches, and even love potions! The recipes themselves are formatted with easy instructions as well as a handy list of the practical considerations: Recommended for, Use, Follow With, Prep Time, Blending Tools, Store In, and Yield. Most recipes include easy-to-source ingredients and have nice long shelf-lives, so you won’t have to be mixing these daily!

With the authority of a textbook but the atmosphere of a relaxing spa, Tourles has made a book that is truly accessible to people coming into herbal body care from many different directions. She tailors her information to complete novices, weaving in succinct definitions of topics like Ayurveda, while including enough recipes to keep even a seasoned herbalist inspired. Often touted as a gateway into herbalism for folks seeking healthier body care alternatives, this book is one you’ll reference for years to come. If you can only choose one herbal beauty book, this one-stop-shop is a treasure trove of recipes to try and wisdom to absorb. Wrap up in your silky robe and dive in!

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  2. The Naturally Clean Home – Karyn Siegel-Maier

With modern culture’s newfound interest in natural alternatives, we’ve probably all come across a few simple kitchen-hacks that our grandmothers would have taught us had we listened. It’s always a little fun to see some of our herbal friends hard at work and still holding their place in modern products like lemon-scented cleaners and Pine-Sol. It can be even more satisfying to learn the original recipes that can still serve as safe, natural alternatives today. Karyn Siegel-Maier’s guide has taken natural cleaning recipes up a notch and quite possibly thought of everything. Beyond just vinegar or baking soda cleanser for the kitchen countertops and bathroom tile, she has recipes for all areas of the home, from kitchen, bath, and laundry to storage areas like the basement and garage — even recipes for wood care and oven cleaner!

It is somewhat astonishing how much information Siegel-Maier has packed into this unassuming little book. Boasting 150 cleaning substitute recipes for every nook and cranny of your home, it will hardly take up any space on your kitchen shelf, your shopping bag, or your back pocket, for that matter — how convenient! She lays out some basics regarding which common cleaning chemicals to avoid, a handful of the essential oils you’ll use most for her recipes, and the beneficial properties of each herb in a handy chart.

Although our modern society has become somewhat dependent on chemical-laden cleaning products to achieve a safe and clean home, it is truly liberating to discover how simple and effective the natural alternatives actually are. The bright side to this potential overhaul to your cleaning cabinet is that these products are easy to make and will end up saving you a lot of money! They also offer the opportunity to further align your daily cleaning habits with herbalism, and you’ll get to know your favorite plant allies in a new light. No matter what level of interest in herbalism you may have, the recipes and concepts in this book are guaranteed to simplify your cleaning routines.

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  3. Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

One of our favorite go-to primers in practical home herbalism is Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, formerly known as The Family Herbal. Covering many daily uses for herbs, it is quite simply one of the best herbal resources from which to learn how to apply the herbal approach into daily life. With a variety of everyday recipes, Gladstar provides many ways to get to know and use herbs for the whole family. Her core strength is a friendly teaching style and deftness for choosing the right information to highlight, making the steps approachable while still lacing herbal wisdom throughout each chapter to frame each recipe. You may find yourself turning to this trusty little book time and again over the years. In fact, the recipes found here are so effective that many herbalists list them as their initial proof that herbs really do work.

Chapters are broken down by category, delving into broad topics, such as Gladstar’s Prescription for Life, Taming Stress and Anxiety, Home Remedies for Everyday Ailments and Recipes for Radiant Beauty. More specific recipe chapters follow, including recipes For Children, For Women, For Men, and For Elders. Throughout these recipes are simple explanations of creating balance in the body as a form of daily support and in response to illness or injury.

Not only does Gladstar have a magical way of transmuting the mysterious world of herbalism into a few simple steps, but the joy she feels for this work brims from every paragraph and her passion for plants is simply contagious. We love the way Rosemary can spin a yarn about just about any plant or preparation without losing the thread of clarity and simplicity in her teaching. If you need a helping hand to guide you into the world of herbalism and some projects to apply your studies to — keep this book close at hand, as its guidance will aid you throughout all levels of your herbal journey.

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  4. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

Before having much awareness of the herbal world, many of us may have had a few essential oils in our medicine cabinets — perhaps lavender for burns, tea tree or eucalyptus on hand for steams to clear the congestion of winter colds, or peppermint for headaches. Even without much knowledge of the science behind these essential oils, it often feels like having a secret ally in our toolkits that we might even suggest to friends in need. If this world of essential oils piques your interest, then Valerie Ann Worwood’s Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy can be a helpful guide, as it is one of the most comprehensive guides on this topic.

With years of experience in complementary medicine and aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood’s graciously shares her expertise in the clinical use of essential oils in this practical how-to guide, giving us a little bit of everything we may need to know.  She orients the complete beginner in plant chemistry and provides some basic tools to get started, but practitioners at any level can benefit from the 800 recipes included in the book, which covers ailments for women, men, children, and elders. She also explains in great detail the growing and harvesting practices for various plants that contribute to the different prices we encounter for various essential oils. The fair amount of ingredient overlap between recipes helps you to get the most out of the ingredients you decide to invest in. In fact, one of our favorite elements in this book is that Worwood has provided a list of her top ten go-to essential oils for basic care and travel kits. She even provides substitutes with similar actions and properties if you are missing any from her list. For its sheer volume of information and the practical way it is organized with charts and guides, this book remains at the top of our list for understanding the ways we can benefit from essential oils for wellness.

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  5. The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm

Aviva Jill Romm is an herbalist and practicing midwife who is also a Yale University-trained family physician in obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. Her layered perspective on holistic health is uniquely informed by both allopathic and complementary medicine and is an invaluable asset to the field of herbalism. As Romm concedes in the introduction of this book, pregnancy is a complex, confusing, and exciting period in our lives. She also sees it as an opportunity full of potential transformation and empowerment. Pregnancy is the domain of women, historically, yet with all the positive advancements of modern medicine, one unintended side effect has been women’s diminished connection to the process. By granting women the wealth of information from her combined experience, Romm seeks to empower women with information so they may reconnect to their bodies during this deeply personal rite of passage.

The book is arranged into two main parts: part 1 breaks down basic aspects of pregnancy and offers research, guidance, and complementary support, including helpful tips on nutrition, stress relief, posture, and exercise. She also goes into helpful tips for choosing a physician and the changes a woman can expect to her body, mood, and family unit. Part 2 provides a list of common ailments during pregnancy from anemia to indigestion to varicose veins, with guidance on natural interventions whenever possible. It also includes notes on safe herbs and dosage during pregnancy. Romm’s informed and measured perspective puts one at ease in preparation for this intimate period in a woman’s life. Her support of both allopathic and alternative approaches validates a woman’s goal of holistic health during pregnancy while reinforcing her sense of safety. For those seeking an herbal approach to natural pregnancy care, this resource is an immensely informative and supportive trusted mentor.  

Herbalism As A Lifestyle

5 Herbal Lifestyle Books To Read This Year | Herbal Academy | If incorporating herbalism into your lifestyle is appealing to you, here are 5 of our favorite herbal lifestyle books to help you get started! 5 Herbal Lifestyle Books To Read This Year | Herbal Academy | If incorporating herbalism into your lifestyle is appealing to you, here are 5 of our favorite herbal lifestyle books to help you get started!

The world of herbalism is an endless series of doors to deeper wisdom, including ancient practices with modern day relevance. Herbalism is immediately available and applicable to our daily lives and the more we choose to reintegrate it, the more harmonious our lives may become. These herbal lifestyle books are great sources of inspiration and effective references when a need arises, and we’d like to see what natural approaches are available to us. They are also a great way to bring this fascinating information to other friends and loved ones in our life. While newcomers may be hesitant to try tinctures or bitters, a supremely effective hand salve might just transcend initial skepticism. Keeping natural first-aid remedies in our homes can teach our young ones an early respect for herbal preparations. As often is the case, the more ways we find to experiment with these herbs the deeper our relationship to them becomes, securing their place in our lives for years to come.

If you are curious about incorporating herbalism into your life (or to learn more about what an herbalist does, says, or creates), we invite you to join us in our Free Becoming an Herbalist Mini Course, a series of guideposts on your journey as an herbalist. This exploratory course dives into the topic of what it means to become an herbalist as well as the legal, ethical, and logistical considerations of using herbs. It will also inform and enlighten your herbal path – wherever it takes you!

Registration for the free course is open today, July 19th, through Sunday, August 5th, and class starts Monday, August 6th!

Register here: theherbalacademy.com/…/becoming-herbalist-mini-course

 

Books and resources listed in the Herbal Bookshelf, as well as in references, citations, and book reviews on the Herbal Academy website may contain titles and language that include words and phrases such as “healing,” “treat,” and “medicinal.” Herbal Academy web pages that include book reviews, products, references, citations, periodicals, or other publications and links should not be construed as medical claim, diagnosis, or treatment. The Herbal Academy is not responsible for the content of these outside resources. The Herbal Academy makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions.