Surviving Our Winter Snowageddon

Posted on February 27, 2015. Filed under: Kitchen Herbalism, Seasons and Climate, Urban Herbalism |

You may have heard that here in Boston we’ve taken a right turn at winter wonderland and dove straight into more of a nightmarish wintery affair.  This has inspired me to share some of my tips for surviving emotionally and spiritually during our Snowageddon.

Nowadays, we look outside our windows to witness scenes like this:

Snow Bound  (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Snow Bound (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Which don’t exactly inspire hearts filled with gladness and joy.  And then when we head out we navigate walled mazes of snow…

Snowy Wasteland  (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Snowy Wasteland (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Just so icky!

One of the first things many herbalists will run to in these times are various combinations of nervines and adaoptogens to help ease that underlying nervous tension and to support you dealing with stress.   Which is a great start but I’m not going to dwell on this too much except to say there are a lot of them and finding the ones that work best for you as you need them is hugely helpful.

Personally, I sometimes go for  a blend I call “Reset Your Nerves” that I make in various forms and drink a couple of cups a day for the worst weeks of things:

Reset Your Nerves Tea (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Reset Your Nerves Tea (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Which is a combination of Tulsi, Oatstraw, Linden and Skullcap and or Passionflower.  And then I supplement things with homemade mushroom capsules with things like Reishi, Chaga and Cordyceps – which I’ll have a couple of times a days with meals.

Then sometimes I go with adaptogenic teas with things like ginseng, ashwaganda, eleuthero or chaga.  It’s depends on what is wanted or needed.

Beyond that when it is particularly cold and the season is filled with storms resulting in strenuous work like shoveling snow and hiking in the cold to get anywhere – I think that is the best time to break out the hawthorn to support your heart as it has to work even harder than normal.  Brew up some generous portions of hawthorn tea and carry a bit of hawthorn berry tincture with you.  It’s good for your nerves and your emotional heart as well – which is also struggling during the wintery onslaught!

There are a variety of supporting practices that I like doing depending on how things are going.

On the caring for you by caring for your skin note, I’m fond of:

  • Doing weekly home facial steams.  Usually on Friday night to help let go of the week.  Just boil up a pot of water, throw in the herbs, cover and turn off the heat.  Let them steep for a bit.  Then lift the cover and put your face over it a towel covering your head for capturing the steam.  Some great herbs are linden, elder flower (great for the sinus too so it doubles as a sinus steam!) and frankly any of the kitchen herbs that get commonly called Italian seasonings like Basil, Sage, Rosemary, etc. are great here and smelling them is so healing for your mood.
  • Never neglect the awesomeness of a foot bath.  Additions such as the nicer essential oils or herbs are wonderful.  Sometimes, I like going in a different direction and try to deal with winter shoe feet ick of all stripes by cutting up  some fresh garlic (let it sit a bit) and throw it in the hot water along with Epsom salt, Apple Cider Vinegar and sometime Tea Tree oil – it feels cleansing, tingling and warming to the soul and the soles!
  • Don’t forget the value of oiling your skin – in the depths of winter I tend to use sesame oil infused with herbs and warming things like ginger and massage it into my skin in the morning after I shower.  So amazing!
Garlic Foot Bath (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Garlic Foot Bath (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Yes, yes, that fresh chopped garlic floating in my foot bath water! :-)

As silly as it may sound – go to bed early.  Yes it means you have less time in the evening, but even if you don’t realize it at the time your body and spirits will appreciate any extra sleep you can get this time of year.  It’s not like we aren’t all getting chronically sleep deprived in the US anyway, so it is always good advice.

It’s always a good time to indulge in a little food therapy.  Like the magic hot homemade soup on a wintery day:

Parsnip Ginger Soup (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Parsnip Ginger Soup (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

This was a wonderful Parsnip Ginger soup I made.  I grated some fresh ginger (a couple of tablespoons full), chopped up some onions, parsnips and shitake mushrooms and sautéed them for a few minutes in some pastured raised cow butter then added some water, tomatoes and some pepper and sea salt and let it simmer until it was yummy and warming awesomeness!

Provided you’re not snacking on sugary stuff all the time – this is exactly the time where a little chocolate therapy can be called for.

Healing by Chocolate - (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

Healing by Chocolate – (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Some of my personal favorites from my emergency chocolate blizzard stockpile!

And last but not least…when there is already too much snow on the ground and there is yet another snowstorm in the forecast – don’t forget the vastly underrated value of just plain running and screaming in the night to release some stress! ;-)

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