Who ever thought spices and herbs could offer some stress relief! Not only do they smell and taste amazing, they also come with a range of health benefits.
These spices below, some you may know and use regularly are a great addition to your self-care during the festive season, stressful times and uncertainty.
Why Use Spices for Self-Care
During the holidays, stress levels can start to rise as calendars and to-do lists get filled up and uncertainty is all around. This means it’s extra important to build in time for self-care. By fitting mindful moments into the holiday period, you can help avoid burnout and keep your stress levels low. Many well-known holiday spices are actually perfect for supporting your body through these times. They come with a range of benefits, including reducing stress, boosting immune system function, and treating inflammation in the body.
Favorite Spices and their Benefits
The spices you use regularly are full of health-giving properties. Here five that are favourites of mine, easy to purchase and use in a variety of preparations. The benefits they may offer are an added bonus to enjoy during the holiday period and beyond.
Cinnamon might just be the best-loved holiday spice. It’s a major feature of many holiday dishes and drinks, and its scent is instantly recognizable. What you might not know is that cinnamon may help alleviate depression symptoms, manage blood sugar levels and protect the digestive system, and has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, the chemical responsible for giving the spice its sweet taste. Cinnamaldehyde has anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antiviral properties, and can also help lower cholesterol.
Another beneficial spice, nutmeg boasts antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. This makes it a brilliant spice to help support your body over the holidays. Nutmeg is known for its warm, sweet taste. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes. Nutmeg has been shown to help improve blood circulation and can have aphrodisiac effects.
Ginger is known as a digestive tonic, making it a great spice to head to after indulging during the holiday period, as it can help soothe the stomach and manage nausea. Ginger also has antimicrobial properties and a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Cloves have been shown to improve liver function, which can be a plus during the holidays. Cloves may also help regulate blood sugar levels. With their distinctive deep, warm scent, cloves pair well with orange, ginger and cinnamon. Cloves have a distinctively deep, warm scent with a slight fruitiness that pairs well with orange, ginger, and cinnamon.
One of the most versatile holiday spices, vanilla can be added to a whole range of holiday food. This subtle spice can also help soothe and calm your nervous system when inhaled, that delicious rich smell is enough to transport you to a place of inner calm, and it’s a great choice if you’re feeling that holiday stress. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavours and has anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Use Self-Care Spices at Home
On top of cooking with a blend of holiday spices and herbs, you can try these ideas for some festive self-care and cleansing.
- 6 cups water
- 4 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp. whole cloves
- 1 tbsp. whole star anise
- 4 whole vanilla beans, chopped
- 6 black tea bags
- Add spices and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add black tea bags, and steep for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Serve and Enjoy
If you prefer a cool and refreshing blend, leave the brew to cool, pop it in the fridge, add some ice when you are ready to serve and enjoy a sugar-free, soothing drink. The fragrance from the boiling spices will fill your space with delicious smells and a create a sense of calm.
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 cup coconut water
- ½ cup coconut (or your favourite milk)
- 2 tablespoons of Vanilla protein powder
- Sprinkle, ½ teaspoon (each); Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger
- Add ice cubes
- Shake, sip and enjoy
Experiment with the smoothie, add some berries for extra nutrition. To increase the anti-inflammatory benefits, add some fresh mint (finely chopped).
Add Whole Spices to Your Bathwater
A bath with a difference, boil your favourite spices (you might like to use some from the tea you made earlier) to transform your bath into a fragrantly, blissed space with whole spices. Boil your preferred spices on the stove first with some water, and then add the whole mixture to your bath as the water is running. You can take the spices out before you get in or just leave them. Bliss!
Spiced Face Mask
Spices and herbs aren’t just great to smell and enjoy. They are nourishing for your skin as well. Create your own face mask by combining vanilla, nutmeg and honey to make a natural exfoliation blend.
A Few Moments Just for You
With plenty of activity going on, during the holidays, it may be hard to find the time for self-care. So please take mindful moments when you can. Simply making a cup of warming, spiced tea can help you pause. Breathe in deeply and soak up the calming benefits of your favorite holiday spices. So, mix and match spices that you enjoy so that you get the benefits that are relevant to your needs and keep your stress levels manageable.
Stressed out? You maybe heading towards burnout. It is time to stop, re-assess and determine how you move ahead, will you keep on going or will you actually stop and listen to your body. Burnout is serious, un-managed it has the power to cause chronic illness.