Red or Purple Dead-Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Finding  another “weed” growing in my garden makes me smile. This one has beautiful purple flowers.

Its exciting researching what these new herbs are as they appear. Firstly I take a good close look at the herb. I see that its top leaves are also purple and that it has a square stem. After researching further I find out that the herb is called red or purple dead nettle.

Mine is growing at the edge of the grass near my stone patio and in my herbal patch! It amazes me to see these herbal beauties naturally growing alongside herbs that I plant myself.

I love that I can now appreciate the beauty of these so called weeds.

How to Identify

When I find a new herb I am always very careful to identify it correctly.  To help me to do this I look at herbal books that I have bought, check my course notes, and thoroughly research the internet. I was struggling to identify this one and therefore decided for the first time to use a mobile app to identify it.

Therefore using the PlantNet mobile phone app I took a photograph. As it happens this immediately pointed me towards the correct identification. However I still research a lot further afterwards to make absolutely sure that it is purple dead-nettle. You really can’t be too careful when identifying a herb, especially if you are thinking of eating, drinking or using it externally.

Give this free PlantNet app a go yourself,

https://identify.plantnet-project.org/

I love using it!

Interesting Info about Purple Dead-Nettle

  • Red or Purple Dead-Nettle is part of the mint family.
  • Its name is dead-nettle because its supposed to look like stinging nettles but without the sting.
  • The top leaves turn purple as the plant matures.
  • Bees love purple dead-nettle so much that it is traditionally known as bumblebee flower.
  • Magically purple dead nettle is said to be associated with happiness and cheerfulness.

Don’t Confuse with Henbit

The purple dead-nettle is often confused with red henbit but I find that there are some easy to see differences to tell them apart. I do this by looking at the differences in their leaves;

Purple dead-nettle leaves
  •  Hairy
  •  Triangular shaped
  •  Not very scalloped edges
Henbit leaves
  •  No hair and glossy looking
  •  Kidney shaped
  •  Pronounced scalloped edges

If you are just starting to forage take a look at my tips for beginners;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

Eating Purple Dead-Nettle

Purple dead-nettle and henbit are both edible and highly nutritious. They contain iron, fibre, antioxidants, along with vitamins A, C and K.

To try what it tastes like my husband and I each pick off a leaf because it can be eaten raw as well as cooked . The hairy texture is very strange and my husband thinks that it has a slightly peppery taste.

Reading about the herb I find that the leaves are very versatile. They can be used like any other green because they can be put in salads, soups and even smoothies.

Apparently its best to pick this herb when it has flowered because then it has more flavour. I easily spot my purple dead-nettle due to them already have their blossoming flowers. These flowers appear from March to October.

Drinking Purple Dead-Nettle

Infusing the purple dead-nettle leaves makes a tea. Personally I don’t want to drink too much of this one because it can have laxative effects. Research suggests that the leaves may be good for supporting the body with regards to;

  • The kidneys
  • Promoting perspiration
  • Helping with seasonal allergies.

I decided to try a cup to see what it tastes and smells like. To do this I made a simple infusion as follows;

  1.  Place 1 teaspoon of dried herb or two teaspoons of fresh herb into a cup of boiling water
  2.  Cover with a lid or plate
  3.  Infuse for 10 minutes and then drink

Removing the fresh leaves after infusion gave me a tea with a very slight green tinge.

My personal review of purple dead-nettle tea

Picking the cup up and holding it between both hands I bring the cup up to my nose. Breathing in deeply the smell reminds me slightly of a fresh cut garden.

While drinking the tea I am met with a earthy but not unpleasant taste. Approaching the last dregs of the tea I decide that I like the earthy sensations.

In conclusion the tea is something that I would drink again on the occasions when the purple dead-nettles appear in my garden.

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Useful Externally for Wounds and Cuts

Researching tells me that the leaves have astringent properties. This means that they may cause the contraction of skin cells and other body tissues. Therefore it may help the body with regards to external cuts and wounds.

I decided to give this a try as follows;

  1. I pick and wash the dead-nettle leaves by placing them into a colander.
  2. Using a pestle and mortar I lightly crush the leaves because they need bruising.
  3. Finally I apply the bruised leaves to a small cut on my arm.

I like to apply the herb with a plaster because its quick and easy. Using a plaster also means that I can leave the herb on my skin for longer. After applying the leaves my cut starts tingling.

Removing the plaster an hour later it was amazing to see a scab already forming over the wound. The next morning it was also pleasing to see that the inflammation from the day before had gone too.

Therefore I will keep the purple dead-nettle in mind when out and about foraging.  Its easy to cut or graze myself while pushing through undergrowth or picking from thorny bushes. If its around when I need it I will simply pick up a few leaves, crush them in my hands, and place them on the cut.

Cautions
  • Its said that purple dead-nettle may be of use for menstrual problems and therefore it is not advised to ingest or drink it while pregnant.
  • If the herb is left on the skin for too long a blister may occur.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

 

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Natural Mosquito Repellents and Bite Relief

 

With spring being the start of the flying insect season I dread the appearance of mosquitos. Unfortunately they can’t seem to get enough of sucking my blood.

Mosquito bites are nasty little things and unfortunately I seem to react badly to them. I suspect this is due to my weak immune system caused by long term digestion problems. Reading many articles tells me that mosquito bites can effect the immune system for up to seven days.

The bites leave me with annoying itching that is impossible to ignore. They swell, look very red and angry, make my legs ache, and irritate my digestion problems further.

Therefore I’ve been avidly looking for herbal solutions and this post shares some ideas that I have found.

 

Natural Mosquito Repellents

1. Simple Rosemary Insect Repellent

 

I like to use something that is as natural and inexpensive as possible for my insect repellent.

Therefore I was happy to find a quick and easy suggestion thanks to the Mother Nature Network;

https://www.mnn.com/

All I needed to buy was;

  • A small plastic spray bottle (75p from Sainsburys)
  • A jar of dried rosemary (£1 from Sainsburys)
    1. Making Rosemary Insect Repellent

  1. I pour 300ml of cold water and 1/4 cup of dried rosemary into a saucepan.
  2. Bringing the mixture to a boil I simmer it for 25 minutes. The smell while it brews is amazing! Its hard to understand why the bugs don’t like it.
  3. Then I put 300ml of fresh water into a jar. I use old Bisto Best gravy jars for some of my concoctions because this saves me a lot of money.
  4. Using a small tea strainer I strain the juice from the boiled rosemary mixture into the jar.
  5. Throwing away the rosemary I then give the water and rosemary solution a stir.
  6. Once cooled I pour some of the mixture into the plastic spray bottle using a conical funnel.
  7. The jar and spray bottle are put into the fridge until required. 

Spraying my body all over every morning and evening I attempt to keep these biting insects away. Additionally I also spray before going outside.

I suspect that some of the mosquitos may have come from the stagnant water in our water butt. Mosquitos are said to breed in stagnant water. As a result we drained away the old water and now ensure that the water butt is refreshed regularly.

I’m going to be careful inside too because I have read that they can breed in stagnant water around the home as well.

My Review of the Repellent

I’ve been using the rosemary insect repellent for a while now and I’m finding that it does work to some extent.

Before I started using it I was being bitten a few times every day but now I only get the occasional bite. Also when I’m bitten now the bites do not seem as aggressive. Instead of the very pronounced red swelling and inflammation I had before I’m only swelling slightly now. The big bonus is that these smaller bites don’t itch as much either.

It feels as if the mosquitos are having a nibble and deciding that they don’t like the taste or smell of the rosemary so they give up. This means that they do not leave as much of their saliva in my body and therefore my reaction is not as great. I’m finding the spray is better than expensive over the counter insect repellents because they do not appear to be repelling them at all.

I have also found that the repellent is becoming darker in colour and stronger smelling while its left in the fridge. This could be another reason why I am getting bit less. In future I will leave the mixture in the fridge for a few days before I apply so that it increases in strength and smell.

Overall I am happy that its use has improved things but I’m always on the lookout for other solutions too.

Tips for using the spray
  1. Apply frequently
  2. Keep in the fridge when not in use
  3. Every 2 or 3 days throw away what is left in the spray bottle and replace with repellent from the original jar. This helps retain the repelling scent.
  4.  I wash the spray bottle spout before each use because the stickiness of the repellent jams it up and makes it harder to spray.
  5.  Allow the repellent dry on the skin before dressing to avoid marks on clothes.

2. Basil Plants

 

 

I bought a couple of basil plants because they are said to repel flies and mosquitos.

Again this is an inexpensive option when you buy the fresh basil in pots from the supermarket.

One of the plants sits in my kitchen so I can’t resist using this one in my cooking too. The other has pride of place in my living room window to keep the bugs away while we relax .

3. Petunias

 

I also have a hanging basket next to my front door containing beautiful pastel coloured petunias.

These beauties repel aphids like blackflies and greenflies. They also repel tomato hornworm, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs.

4. Peppermint Oil

 

 

I place a couple of drops of pure peppermint essential oil onto my footwear when I go outside. The good news is that I haven’t been bitten around my ankles since.

I also use the oil in my diffuser inside the house to keep the insects at bay.

I find its best to apply the oil this way so that the pure oil does not come into direct contact with my skin. Peppermint essential oils are too concentrated and powerful to be used neat on the skin.

Peppermint Pure Essential Oil

Precaution

Never ingest essential oils.

 

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Bite Relief

1. Lavender Oil

 

 

It takes a long time for my bites to heal and I can still see where last years mosquitoes got me! As a result I’ve been looking for suggestions to help deal with my existing bites and the ugly marks that they leave behind.

I came across an article about adding lavender oil to a bath because it may help to reduce the scars of insect bites. Already having a bottle of pure essential lavender oil I jumped at the chance to give this a try.

I buy my pure essential oils from Fresh Skin and I am very happy with them and their good prices;

Lavender Pure Essential Oil

Running the bath I add six drops of lavender essential oil. While soaking the bite areas tingle and I feel that the oil must be doing some good. The bonus is that the lavender smell is so relaxing.

A few soaks later and I can already see the difference because my bites are healing a lot quicker than usual.

Cautions
  • Do not use the lavender oil if you have psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.
  • During pregnancy avoid use of this oil.
  • Avoid if you have low blood pressure because it may make you feel dull and drowsy.
Lavender Plants

I also bought a couple of lavender plants which are sitting next to the patio. This is the best place for them because my husband and I often sit there to enjoy the warmer weather.

Hopefully they will deter the little biters.

2. Aloe Vera Plant

 

 

As an added incentive for the bites to heal I turn to my trusty aloe vera plants. If you have not yet read my post about aloe vera plants take a look to see why I love them so much;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/growing-aloe-vera-plants-air-purifying/

Aloe vera gel is said to heal lots of different skin problems. In my opinion you can’t beat the gel directly from your own plant.

Tear off part of a leaf and the gel naturally seeps out. I  rub this gel directly onto the bite area and leave it to dry.

The gel feels very cooling and eases the itching and swelling.

My poor aloe vera plants lose a lot of their leaves quickly because I get so many bites. However they soon grow back and start to produce more plants at this time of the year. The plant in the above picture already has four new “babies” growing from its base.

3. Sea Water

 

 

On a recent trip to the seaside I quickly took off my sandals loving the feel of the sand under my feet. Then I began paddling in the sea and the cold was invigorating! As a result later that day I saw that my bite scars were greatly reduced in appearance and redness.

Natural sea salt contains magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium and all of these properties play an important role in skin health.

There is even a name for using seawater for medicinal purposes and this is Thalassotherapy. In Greek mythology Thalassa was the primeval spirit of the sea.

Sea water may also ease psoriasis, acne and eczema.

If you enjoy a bit of history take a look at Dr Richard Russell’s Brighton sea water cures c1750s;

https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/people/peopinv/dr-richard-russell/russell-dr-richard

Therefore if you are suffering from skin problems and are lucky enough to live by the sea go give this one a try!

4. Sea Salt

If your not able to get to the seaside here is another option to harness sea salt’s beautiful healing energies. A dear friend gave me some coarse sea salt from Holland & Barrett.

I put a small handful of the salt into a sink full of cold water and swirl it around until its dissolves. Then I take two pieces of bandage and soak them in the salt. Finally I wring them out and wrap them around my bitten ankles.

The result after removing the bandages are pretty amazing because the bites lose their angriness. Furthermore wearing these bandages keep me cooler in the hot weather.

5. Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve

 

Drawings of marshmallow and safflower blooms

 

I also created my own marshmallow and safflower oil salve. It was originally an idea for old wounds including old insect bite scars, but it is also proving to be an anti-itching cream for some skin conditions as well. I also find it stops the itching from any new bites I have too.

To find out more take a look at my “Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve – Amazing Natural Anti-Itch Cream” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/marshmallow-and-safflower-oil-ointment-boils-abscess-ulcer-old-wound-eczema-rough-skin-itching-relief-for-insect-bites-eczema-and-lichen-planus-marsgmallow-root-beeswax-for-salves/

 

6. Chickweed

 

 

Crushed chickweed is a quick and easy useful suggestion for a bite if its available.

Take a look at my “Common Chickweed” post to find out more.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/common-chickweed-bites-stings-chickweed-tea/

7. Sage

 

If you get bit in the garden and have  sage growing in you herbal patch then this is another option. Rub the fresh leaves onto bites and stings for first aid relief. The rubbing will crush the leaves and release their juices.

8. Narrow Leaf Plantain Salve

 

 

Bitten on the forehead by a mosquito while foraging I came across some narrow leaf plantain. Having a quick look on google I see that one of the leaves uses is for insect bites. Therefore picking a leaf I begin rubbing and crushing it between my fingers. Smearing the juice from the leaf onto the bite was easing the itching and swelling!

As  a result I took a few more leaves home to look into making a salve. Thanks to Natural Living Ideas I began making this salve;

https://www.naturallivingideas.com/healing-plantain-salve/

The salve is excellent and great at reducing the swelling and redness of new mosquito bites.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Good luck with avoiding those biting insects!

 

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Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance – Part Three

Here is my third and final blog for alternative tips for mental health, wellbeing and balance which I have found useful. I’ve heard it said  that experience can be one of the best teachers in life.

When I thought about doing these three blogs I did not realise that April is Stress Awareness Month. I guess this must have been my intuition kicking in again.

If you missed the first two blogs on this mini series please click below;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-one/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-two/

Part three tips;

Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others

This is one of the hardest things I found to do.

I’m sure that we have all done things in the past that we regret but the important thing is to accept them and move on. Now I see my mistakes as something to learn from. I feel that by experiencing so many hard and challenging situations helps me to empathise with and help others.

Forgiving those that have hurt me in the past is an extremely difficult task, but I am now able to do this. I look at others with compassion and try to understand why they did the things they did.

Do not label Yourself or Others

It feels awful to be labelled. I have always hated the “too shy” and “too sensitive” labels that I have been given in the past. Fortunately after all the research I have done I realise that being sensitive may be a challenge but it has many benefits too.

I give thanks to Elaine N Aron and her book “The Highly Sensitive Person -How to Survive when the World Overwhelms You” which was a real life changer for me.

Despite this I still find myself saying things like “I can’t do this” or “nothing will ever change”. I’m getting better at catching myself doing this but its still an easy trap to fall into.

I find that labelling myself this way just brings me down. Negative feelings  spiral out of control and I start to think about all the other bad things that have happened in the past. This does not help and just ends up making me feel worse.

As a result of knowing how this feels I try to catch myself before labelling others. I don’t always manage to do so but I am getting better at achieving this. Saying things like “what an idiot” when someone cuts out in front of me while driving for example still happens. Now though I do think to myself what could be going on in that persons life to for them to have done that? Maybe they have something awful happening in their life which gave them a brief lapse of concentration.

Learn to Love Yourself

This is one that I find difficult but I am getting there.

I am registered with Hay House and receive regular helpful emails from them. Some of these include “mirror work” where I have to look into the mirror and say things like “I really love you” to my reflection. It may sound silly, and I felt silly trying it, but it does make me smile and feel better.

https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/newsletters/signup

I find that yoga helps too with this one because often the practices ask you to give yourself a huge hug.

Socialising

I try to spend as little time as possible with anyone who triggers a negative reaction each time that I see them. Obviously this can be very difficult if you have to work alongside them.

Trying to spend leisure time with like-minded individuals is the best course of action for me. To help with this I’ve started joining facebook groups with people who share the same interests because I can’t get out much. I’m getting a lot of pleasure from this. Other suggestions of places to go to find like-minded souls include;

  • Adult education courses
  • Art classes
  • Spiritual retreats

If like me you struggle going out and socialising, make things easier for yourself. Ways I do this include;

  • Planning well in advance enables me to function better.
  • Explaining to others, especially friends and family, how much socialising I can deal with.
  • Telling others how new, noisy and crowded situations overstimulate me helps to pave the way.

Blocking

I have a vivid imagination and therefore this suggestion works quite well for me.

This is a way I use to “block out” others negative energy that may bring me down. I visualise a pink bubble before I go out into a crowded noisy place, and in my minds eye it has a large pink fist which I imagine punches away any unwanted energy.

Or another visualization I sometimes use is to imagine a whole in the middle of my stomach with a tornado passing through it. If anyone says anything hurtful I imagine the tornado sucking the words straight through me and out the other side. This way I feel they cannot  stay around and hurt me.

Thanks to my Hay House meditations I also picked up another useful tip to use when I go to bed. I use this tip if I have had a particularly overwhelming day and I’ve experienced hurtful things that have been said to me. Before I fall asleep I ask that the bad interactions be taken away and thrown away like an old newspaper. I ask this so that I can start the next day afresh with a clean slate.

Try some of Hay House’s free meditations for yourself;

https://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/8xcg4-3399c/Hay-House-Meditations-Podcast

Being Held by Someone You Love

I’m lucky to have my husband for this one.

Sometimes all you need is to be held. When my husband holds me it does calm me but only if I am feeling receptive!

I have also read that it helps to smell the shirt of your loved one to calm you. Therefore I make sure I have a good sniff while I’m being held.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

When my dark side takes over I can say the cruelest things to those I love. This is not good for me or my loved ones. Particularly my husband who gets the brunt because I hardly ever see anyone else nowadays.

I try to remind myself to walk away rather than stand there continuing to say things that make the situation worse. More and more often I walk out of the room usually into the sanctuary I have created in our spare bedroom.

Just walking away from the situation is sometimes all I need to do to calm down.

Alone time is very important for me and therefore walking away helps with this. I’m highly sensitive and need alone time to stop me from becoming overwhelmed. Highly sensitive people naturally have a greater need for solitude than others.

If you would like to see if you are a highly sensitive person too have a look at my HSP post which shows my sensitive traits;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/are-you-a-highly-sensitive-person-too-hsp/

Embrace your Dark Side

We all have a dark side and I feel that its best to accept this fact and learn to deal with it. I have also heard it called our shadow side.

Two of my favourite quotes from Spirit and Destiny magazine on my “Positivity Board” are related to this. They are;

Stars can’t shine without darkness” and “I embrace the light and shade of my life.”

I love these affirmations!

I freely admit that I have a bad temper. I’m pleased to say that I am coping with this better due to the many of the tips I’m sharing in my mental health, wellbeing and balance blogs. The more time that passes since I have been off the anti-depressants helps with this too.

However I also believe that this dark side / anger of mine helps pick me up. It gives me the strength I need to deal with bad situations and to carry on. I am a very strong willed and determined individual. Some would describe me as stubborn but considering I’m a Taurean that’s not surprising.

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto says;

“You can’t respect yourself until you grow teeth” and  “strength is the best guarantee of peace”.

Make an Effort

I notice that making an effort to dress smartly and put on my make up does improve my state of mind.

Even being in the house most of the time putting on something nice makes me look better and therefore feel better. I’m sure my husband must appreciate the effort too.

Although everyone loves a “dressing gown” day every now and then, I don’t feel that this should happen too frequently.

Stop and Take a Break

When I start something I find it very hard to stop and take a break. For example if I decide to paint a room I can’t stop until its completely finished. I also often forget to eat or drink in the process.

As a result I wear myself out and this is not good for my wellbeing.

I’m being more mindful now and reminding myself that I need to stop for that drink or bite to eat.

Its very important to take regular breaks whether its from work, decorating, creating, or in fact almost any kind of situation.

Be Assertive

I’ve always found it hard to say no. I’m constantly trying to please other people to fit in, but in the end I do too much and tire myself out. Often as a result I end up ill because my weak immune system struggles even more when I’m worn out.

I feel that trying to do too much can be stressful both on my mind and body.

I try to remember to say things like “I will think about it” when someone asks me to do something. This allows me the time to decide if I really want to do it and if I can cope with doing it.

I’m sure you must of heard of the saying that “its not possible to please all of the people all of the time”. Besides I can’t be there for others unless I look after myself first.

Concentrate on One Project at a Time

With my restless mind and constant flow of creative ideas I have so many projects that I want to have a go at.

I try to concentrate on one idea, or maybe two, at a time and complete these before embarking on another. Otherwise I find myself getting stressed by the pressure that I put onto myself.

 

Conclusion

This is the end of my third and final post with regards to alternative tips for mental health, wellbeing and balance.

I have also learnt about herbs and essential oils that may help to support the mind with regards to this area. I will share these in future posts.

Please do not hesitate to comment on any experiences you have had, good or bad, from trying any of these tips yourself.

Finally if you have enjoyed this post please share or subscribe to receive my future blogs.

 

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Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance – Part Two

Here is my second list of tips to help with mental health, wellbeing and balance. I find them helpful and hope that you find some of them useful too.

If you missed my last post on this subject click here to see it;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-one/

Singing and Music

 

A quick and easy way to lighten my mood is to sing along to a favourite song. I’m best doing this when I’m on my own because I’m tone death!

Music itself can change how I feel. If I’m feeling low I find a mix of “happy” songs on the internet and listen to them to make me smile. If its a good mix I end up swaying to the music and singing along. My favourite go to song for cheering me up is Pharrel William’s “Happy” song;

https://www.bing.com/search?q=happy+song&form=EDGNB2&mkt=en-gb&httpsmsn=1&plvar=0&refig=dfb3640b62104d95a511113726adcc3b&sp=-1&pq=happy+song&sc=8-10&qs=n&sk=&cvid=dfb3640b62104d95a511113726adcc3b

Nowadays I often listen to meditation music too because this works for me when I crave a calming atmosphere. My favourite types of meditation music include sounds of nature. Examples of my preferred nature sounds are trickling rivers, waterfalls, ocean waves, singing birds, trees rustling in the wind and wildlife.

Beautiful sounds can be very calming and relaxing. I  also have a Tibetan singing bowl and a crystal weather chime. I love the sounds that both of these make. If your unsure what a Tibetan singing bowl is take a look at this link;

Tibetan singing bowls

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Dancing

I used to combine my love of dancing with exercise by doing Zumba at home. Zumba involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music. The choreography incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo. Salsa is my favourite and moving this way while wiggling my hips  makes me smile.

Unfortunately when my condition meant that I started to lose a lot of weight the Zumba became a bit too energetic for me. Therefore I now concentrate on yoga and I can feel myself getting stronger as time goes on.

There are many health benefits to dancing which include;

  • Better balance
  • Improved mood
  • Heart health
  • Weight control if trying to lose weight

The balance benefit was of particular interest to me because after my epileptic fits began when I was 36 my balance went out of sync. I even struggled to ride a bicycle and would wobble loads when I tried.

After my first three months of doing Zumba, which is a few years ago now, my balance improved dramatically and I dropped a dress size. Here are some Zumba options if you are interested in having a go at home;

Zumba

I still find some of the yoga balances a challenge but my balance has definitely improved and continues to do so.

Laughing

I read in Spirit and Destiny magazine that laughing helps to raise your mood even if its fake laughing.

https://www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk/

Just making fake laughing sounds like “ha ha ha” and “he he he” makes you feel silly and then you genuinely start to laugh at yourself. If I do it when I’m with someone else they often end up smiling and then laughing too.

Try releasing those feel good endorphins now.

Crying

Its unfortunate in the world we live in that crying is often seen as weakness by many. Personally I think that it actually shows a sensitive soul and I’m impressed if a man feels able to cry in front of others.

I have read that crying reduces negative feelings and relieves tension. I know that I certainly feel better after a good cry.

Being Creative

I find being creative a great comfort to me.

As the months and years pass since I came off anti-depressants that should not have been given to me, I find myself becoming more me again. I am so pleased that this means that my creative side has returned.

I have read that drawing is a kind of meditation. As you can tell from my posts I love to draw. I also do a little bit of pyrography (burning my designs onto wood), jewellery making and of course writing.

It definitely calms me when I am being creative.

Connect with Your Inner Child

I absolutely love this one and I’ve had so much fun with it!

When foraging I often decide to start skipping down pathways. I do this to make me smile and laugh but I also do it to make anyone I’m with smile and laugh too. A bit like the pretend laughter.

My husband and I love going to National Trust properties that often have activities to do which take you back to your childhood. Things we have done include;

  •  Playing games like pick up ducks, find the rat in a drainpipe, wooden skittles, pretending to row a boat and many more.
  •  Having a go at wooden walk over obstacle courses.
  •  Doing crafts like colouring in a paper crown, making napkin shapes and tying different types of knots. The hardest craft I’ve tried was drawing my husband’s portrait with a pencil on the end of a very long stick.
  •  Playing games for all ages such as snooker, table tennis and croquet.

One of the best things we ever did was become National Trust members and we save so much money this way.  Take a look at the below to see if its something that would bring you joy too;

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Sunshine

 

When the sun shines it lifts my mood considerably and I want to be out in it. Even if this means just sitting in the garden.

Its important to have exposure to the sun for at least 15-20 minutes per day to receive the vitamin D that we need to keep healthy. I have read that this can be done by exposing the sun to just the arms and face.

Obviously try to avoid the times of the day where the sun is at it’s strongest during the summer months. I achieve this by getting my sun exposure early morning or late afternoon.

Drink Herbal Tea

I never used to drink tea but in the last couple of years I have found herbal teas and I love them.

As part of my night time ritual I love to drink a cup of chamomile tea half an hour to an hour before I go to bed. I find it important to breathe in the beautiful smell of chamomile too. This process is very relaxing and allows me to drop off to sleep.

I drink many of the herbal teas because they may help to support my body. One of these is peppermint tea and if you would like to see why I love it check out the following post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-peppermint-tea-under-the-full-worm-moon-spirituality-peppermint-essential-oil-spring-equinox/

Avoid Overstimulating Foods and Drink

I have cut out caffeine and energy drinks which seem to temporarily assist me by giving me a lift and a bit of energy.

Unfortunately I always end up crashing afterwards. For instance I often drank energy drinks to help me through a work day but I would crash and fall asleep straight after dinner in the evenings.

I very rarely drink alcohol either and when I do just one tiny glass of red wine is enough for me.

Nutrition

I eat as much nutritious food as possible and this includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m sure you have heard of the saying “you are what you eat.”

To help with my nutrition I also avoid processed foods and foods with more than three to five ingredients wherever possible. I’ve also read that its best to avoid foods which contain ingredients that you cannot pronounce.

Due to a lot of intolerances I cook all of my food from scratch and home cooked food really does taste better. I would also prefer to use organic ingredients where possible but my budget doesn’t cover this. I feel its such a shame that healthy eating  is impeded by it being so expensive.

When I eat I have to remind myself to do this mindfully. I have read that you should chew each bite thirty times but I can’t see me doing this without my food going cold. However to help with digestion I do put my fork or spoon down between each mouthfull because this makes me eat more slowly.

Essential Oil Diffusers and Incense Sticks

My favourite incense is sandalwood and this was the first incense smell that I was drawn too. I find the smell extremely relaxing and calming and often burn it around the house. Its also one of my choices for meditating.

Scents can rapidly adjust not only the atmosphere of a room but also the atmosphere in a mind and spiritual body.

At night time I prefer to burn lavender essential oil in my pink rock salt diffuser lamp which sits on my bedside table. The lavender feels the perfect scent to help me drift off to sleep. I either burn it while I read in bed or while I do a night time meditation. The beautiful glow that the lamp gives off is also very calming, relaxing and infusive to sleep.

To find out more about aromatherapy take a look at my post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/aromatherapy-spirituality-oil-diffuser-chakras-lavender-essential-oil/

Reading a good book is now looked at as a form of meditation. When I read at night I ensure that its a good fiction book which takes me away from the real world for a while. Reading news stories would have the opposite effect on me.

Massage

A massage is said to soothe anxiety and depression.

I’m not a fan of this one myself because of my mastectomy its difficult for me to get comfortable for a massage. I won’t say no to a feet massage though!

However I know that giving my husband a massage relaxes him and helps to ease his aching muscles.

Create a Personal Mantra

A mantra is said to help induce a different state on consciousness and help to focus the mind.

My mantra used to be “I am who I am, and who I am is OK.” This mantra worked really well for me when I lost my breast to cancer. If you or anyone you know is going through breast cancer maybe my story will help via the following posts;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/tips-to-deal-with-a-mastectomy-and-breast-cancer/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-and-radiotherapy/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-reconstruction-pros-and-cons-mastectomy-my-story/

However as I become more spiritual my mantra has changed to “I am a powerful and intuitive being.”

Find a mantra that works for you and lifts your spirits when spoken out loud  to yourself.

 

This is the end of my second list of tips and the third one will follow next week. If you have enjoyed this post please do not hesitate to share and follow or subscribe to receive the next one.

Love and blessings to you all.

 

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