By Kyla Sheffield
Bringing new life into this earth is by far the greatest thing I’ve ever done – so rewarding, fulfilling and challenging all at once. So darn scary and overwhelming at every turn. Yet you cope, you learn, you step-up. That’s what you do as a parent, and it never stops! (Well, I guess it probably does once they grow up and move out … but that’s a long way off!)
Sometimes we just want to curl up in a ball, be held by our own Mum, and have our hair stroked and told ‘it will all be okay, you’ve got this, you can do it’.
Being a parent (especially of a small child), is one of the most exhausting jobs there is. 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week – you have to be on, and be your best. Patient, loving, present, clear, caring, alert, generous, selfless. This is extremely demanding on the body, mind and spirit as well as the nervous system and adrenals. Factor in lack of sleep, it’s no wonder so many parents (especially mums) crash and burn.
So how can we support our bodies through this challenging phase of our lives?
Of course, everyone will tell you to make time for yourself. It’s true. It’s also easier said than done. But it is still necessary. Make time to nurture your body, whether it’s a quiet walk, a bath, a yoga class. Make sure you and your partner support each other to do this. Make sure you are each getting a little solo time. It will give you some energy to draw upon when the going gets tough.
Another way we can support our bodies is with herbs. There are so many plant allies available to us that can really make a difference in our day to day lives. Nourishing the nervous system and supporting adrenal function are key ways we can support our bodies, and assist us to feel calmer, more energised, and stress-free.
And since I’m sure you have very little free time to do all the research, We’ve compiled a list of some of our faves! Here you go – our gift to you.
This herb is considered a calming adaptogen, which improves our ability to cope with stress, and also supports immunity, energy levels and healthy sleep. Ashwagandha supports and nourishes the nervous system, and has been found to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone). In Ayurvedic medicine, is it classified as rasayana – a rejuvenator – used to restore health and wellbeing and promote longevity. It has been used for centuries to alleviate stress, anxiety and fatigue, and is regarded as a general all-purpose tonic.
As a powder, Ashwagandha is easy to add to smoothies, bliss balls, or hot drinks… check out these recipes:
Herbal Harmony Truffles with Ashwagandha, Tulsi & Rose
This is another top adaptogen and tonic herb, used for increasing resistance to stress, regulating hormones, supporting adrenal function and reducing mental and physical fatigue. It also stimulates and protects neurotransmitter activity, and has been found to increase brain serotonin by up to 30%, resulting in improved mood!
Don’t overlook this humble herb! If you have trouble turning your mind off at the end of a busy day, Chamomile could be just the friend for you. Although gentle enough for children, Chamomile is also very effective! It can be used for general anxiety and tension, to support sleep and also for upset stomach and colic. It is definitely a herb that every parent needs in their pantry or medicine cabinet!
This Ayurvedic herb is revered as a brain tonic, but it is so much more than that. It is also a mild adaptogen and a rejuvenative nervine tonic, used for reducing stress and balancing the nervous system. Gotu Kola benefits circulation and healthy connective tissue, making it an excellent choice for new mothers that are healing from childbirth. It is also used to reduce nervous exhaustion and promote mental clarity (did anyone say ‘baby brain’?). Check out the recipe below.
This is an absolute power-packed treasure trove of nutritional goodness, including iron, vitamins, minerals and protein. It is also an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, may help balance blood sugar and hormones and supports brain & liver health. It is also used to boost breast-milk production. In animal studies, Moringa has not only been show to bring down cortisol (stress hormone) levels, but it may also naturally boost testosterone levels, a known sex drive supporter (and we all know a healthy sex life makes for happy parents).
With less time to take care of yourself and your diet, adding Moringa powder to your smoothies, salad dressing or soups can give you that boost you need. Check out these recipes:
This is another adaptogen that is used as a general tonic to support the immune system, improve mental clarity and strengthen and calm the nerves. It is also an antimicrobial that helps combat infection, including colds & flus (which we become much more exposed to as parents of young children!). See recipe below.
Regarded as a harmonising tonic, restorative and adaptogen, used to decrease fatigue, promoting endurance and increase longevity. Schizandra counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. It is also used to help detoxify the body and improve alertness, memory and concentration.
Yet another adaptogen used to improve resistance to stress, boost immunity, improve energy levels, increase endurance, decrease fatigue and enhance overall vitality. Siberian Ginseng is a great choice for parents or anyone engaging in demanding, high stress activities.
This beautiful herb works wonders for easing stress and anxiety and boosting mood. It can also help get you in the mood for lovemaking – something that many parents struggle with. So, wait till your little ones are asleep, and share a cuppa with your partner, and take some time to appreciate each other!
Here are some RECIPES to help you incorporate these herbs into your daily life:
Adrenal Tonic Tea
- 1 tsp Schizandra
- 2 tsp Rhodiola
- 1 tsp Licorice
- 2 tsp Ashwagandha
- 1 tsp Siberian Ginseng
Simmer herbs, covered, in 1 litre of water for 15 minutes, then strain. Drink throughout the day. You can also use these ratios to make a tea blend, and then use 2 Tablespoons per litre of water.
Peaceful Parent Tea
- 1 tsp Tulsi
- 1 tsp Gotu Kola
- 1 tsp Nettle
- 1 tsp Chamomile
- 1/2 tsp Stevia
Add herbs to the teapot, pour over 2 cups of boiled water, cover & steep for 10 minutes. Share with your partner, and take a moment to breathe. (Realistically, you may have to take turns taking that tea break… but good luck!)
We truly hope this article inspires you to nourish your body and supports you on your journey as a parent. Keep up the good work.