It’s been a rough year so far for everyone, including those of us who work from a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive model in healthcare (and anyone with even an ounce of humanity). I’ve added a new diagnosis to my medical charts – sociopolitical mixed anxiety-depressive disorder – to acknowledge the heightened fear, anger, and sadness that many people are now experiencing, especially so for those who are BIPOC or LGBTQ.
So what to do in your day to day? How do you find the strength and vitality to fight back against environmental destruction, racism, misogyny, and transphobia? How do you stand up, stand in solidarity, and stay standing without falling down? How do you go on, when you are afraid of the future, or too angry or sad to get out of bed?
Here are my top four herbs to support you through the next 2-4 years, even if you are currently lying in the fetal position under multiple layers of blankets (I know I’m not the only one):
Dandelion root can you channel your feelings in a healthy way. It will help you avoid turning your bitterness and anger into constipation by stimulating healthy digestion. Emotionally, dandelion can help those who fight extra hard by doing too much, and those who need to present a hardened exterior which inadvertently turns internal into muscle stiffness. Through its own bitterness and moving energy, dandelion helps us to relax into busy-ness, to take care of things without overstriving or overextending.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen to help you persevere, endure, and build resilience in the face of harsh conditions. An herb that thrives at high altitudes among the rocks and high winds, rhodiola is no stranger to adversity. It helps bring power to your breath, muscles and whole body to ensure that you’ll have enough energy to last through protests and the stress of everyday life. It also helps to reduce physiological stress responses and alleviates mild to moderate depression.
Skullcap is a gentle restorative herb for the nervous system to help reduce nervousness and anxiety. It’s great for the kind of anxiety that manifests as muscle twitches when you’re feeling on edge, shaky, twitchy, or frayed. When your response to trauma is to freeze up, skullcap can help create space for small movements to help discharge traumas held inside.
When all else fails, Kava will help to numb the pain and panic that any progress made on climate change, equality for people of colour, women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, and access to basic services like healthcare will backtrack. Kava will even anesthetise those feelings of regret if you voted for Trump or a third party candidate and now realize what a horrible mistake you’ve made. A physical and emotional anaesthetic, kava will numb your mouth (good to know in advance) and numb any obsessive thoughts. Its heart-shaped leaves help bring love back to the self when fear turns inward and negative self-talk has taken over. Kava is particularly useful in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Herbs are great but they aren’t enough.
Call and write letters to your political representatives. Donate your time or money to help local and national organizations working on the issues you are concerned about. Talk to your neighbours and family members about your concerns.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Self-care is needed more than ever. Get support from those around you, and give support to others. Ask for help if you need it.