Lessons from the Garden: Wellbeing in Winter

In December, the days grow short and dark before they begin to grow longer and brighter. This is a month where the gardener knows not to expect much plant growth. If anything, the gardener will add mulch (a restorative layer of organic material) and compost (more nutrients) to the garden beds and let them rest and recuperate their life generating properties. And much like the garden, we would benefit from some restful tending and warm nourishment to prepare for the upcoming year.

During this dormant season, we can harness the wisdom offered by nature and endeavor to restore our physical reserves and nourish our bodies. We can do this in 3 simple (though possibly challenging) ways:


  1. Get More Sleep – Making sure we sleep well is important to our health at anytime of year, however, during winter time we can receive added benefit from allowing ourselves to sleep as much as our body needs. Having trouble sleeping? Check out this class addressing insomnia on Sunday, Dec. 18th here at Rainbow.
  2. Reduce Stress – This one is a challenge for many of us, and is of great importance to our physical and mental well-being. Stress is a natural response to many environmental stimuli. However, in the age of glowing screens and instant communication we can easily be overwhelmed by the constant stimulation we experience through emails, apps and social media. Take time for yourself and reduce your screen time. When we experience stress our sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is engaged. When this happens our body shifts its use of resources and goes into emergency mode and uses up our reserves. This time of year is naturally about replenishing those reserves. So finding ways to reduce your stress levels significantly during this time will help you prepare for the upcoming year and whatever it brings. Adaptogenic herbs such as Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthro) taken as an herbal tea or as an extract can help the body manage stress in more sustainable ways. [You can find both of these herbs on our shelves here at Rainbow either as individual herbs/tinctures or in house-made tea blends or in tincture blends.]
  3. Eat Warm, Nourishing Foods – We often naturally gravitate to warm, comfort foods during the Winter season. This in some ways is a beneficial instinct. Hearty soups and broths can be both tasty and comforting as well as very nourishing and healing, especially in the cold of Winter. It is traditional in many cultures to make bone broth soups. This is a great option for those who eat meat and animal products. Whether or not you make a hearty vegetable (squash, beets, and sweet potatoes are great for this) soup or a rich beef stew using bone broth, herbs such as ginger and Chinese dates (jujube fruit) will imbue your food choice with warm, harmonizing and nourishing properties.


Open to the gifts the season provides and learn from its wisdom! Tend and nourish your body so you can move into the New Year with a spring in your step!

Jonathan Irvin / Community Herbalist


December 6th, 2016|