For many, the Christmas season can be an emotional rollercoaster, with festive cheer mixed with much stress and worry. Many of us feel pressure in relation to decorating the house, buying presents, attending all the pre-Christmas get-togethers, managing family tensions, and so on. The joy of the moment and watching happy memories being created can help override any negativity where it might exist, but not always.

Christmas can also be a painful time for a variety of reasons, with many experiencing feelings of isolation, stress of  family coming to visit or feeling anxious about socialising. Medical Herbalist, Lara Jonasdottir of Dr. Clare’s Apothecary in Galway explains how the right lifestyle and the help of relaxing herbs can come to the rescue. “As a medical herbalist these are the things that often crop up in clinical practice as individuals have a full hour to discuss their concerns during their first appointment. We see a distinct pattern of existing medical conditions, including chronic stress and anxiety, flaring up during the Christmas season.”

“It is therefore helpful in the approach to Christmas to manage expectations all round and to focus on the smaller positive things that do not involve major commitments. Time invested in oneself at this point including regular exercise, eating healthily, having relaxing baths, and getting more sleep can help to build up the energy needed to face the world and navigate through any expected or unexpected choppy waters.”

“Herbal medicine can also be helpful with many relaxing herbs available such as chamomile (Matricaria recutita), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), linden flowers (Tilia europea), lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). These can be taken either as teas or tinctures.”

Many of us have a laundry list of symptoms and a central role of the medical herbalist is to take the time to listen and help to make sense of these with a view to providing a beneficial course of action. For some this might involve a combination of more straightforward lifestyle changes and useful additions like herbal teas, creams, or other off-the-shelf products. For others this might involve an individualised herbal therapeutic plan in combination with a comprehensive review of potential contributing factors to ill health and any follow-on referrals. The aim in all cases is to find an appropriate level of intervention that delivers sustained improvement without causing any additional problems. 

So when approaching the stresses that unfold this Christmas, think about yourself first. Without looking after you, you cannot look after anyone else.

For more information on a stress free Christmas visit or call Lara on 091 583260.