We live in a booze-loving culture, but booze doesn’t really love us back. Not to be total kill-joys, but overtime alcohol can really do a number on your body. Don’t get us wrong, some of us at WSH HQ love an ice cold brew after mowing the lawn or a pét-nat on a Sunday afternoon at the lake. But as herbalists, we must share what we know, which is that alcohol is definitely not the de-stresser it's been marketed to be and there are far better ways to beat stress than knocking back a few every time stress kicks in.
This is Your Body on Alcohol
It’s not uncommon to unwind with a glass of wine, we do it too. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink! And while it may seem like alcohol will lift your mood and release some stress, it actually does the opposite. So, we can’t pretend like it’s good for us, even if it is enjoyable sometimes… super enjoyable in fact. In the short-term we get a boost of endorphins and serotonin. But alcohol is technically a depressant. The quick mood-boost is short lived, ultimately that boozy drink will deplete our energy and kill the mood. Not to mention alcohol can suppress the immune system and mess with healthy sleep patterns. And it is especially hard to feel relaxed when you’re in a bad mood, on crummy sleep, and dealing with low immunity.
These three ideas take just about the same amount of effort as it does to mix a margarita. So whether you avoid alcohol altogether - hey teetotalers! - or are looking for a break from your 5 o’clock martini, we've got some herby ways to relax, reset, and release stress.
1. Have a fun non-alcohol drink.
If you’re a cocktail making type try the Radiance Punch Mocktail we dreamed up with monfefo. This recipe features bright citrus flavors and passionfruit, plus The Light Ray. This slightly sweet, and delightfully jammy tincture supports the liver’s natural detoxification process and promotes glowing skin. Herbs like gotu kola, rose hips, and nettle offer nourishment for the whole body.
If you tend to reach for a beer after a rough day, try stocking your fridge with some non-alcoholic options. We love having sparkling water, iced teas, and drinks that we can keep icy cold and crack open without any effort at all. We’re big fans of GT’s Alive line of mushroom elixirs. We love Alive Root Beer, which is a sparkling tea - not a kombucha, because it’s not fermented - made with a trio of adaptogenic mushrooms: chaga, reishi, and turkey tail.
2. Take a bath.
The tub is a great place to wash away worry, the strain of the day, and everything else you carry with you that you’re ready to let go. If you don’t have a full sized tub or you’re not in the mood for full body immersion in warm water, no problem. It is just as relaxing to soak your feet and you get all the same benefits.
3. Do an herbal steam.
Our Editorial Director Christine Buckley thinks there’s not much an herbal steam can’t fix, she loves them so much she included them in her book. Bad mood? Bye. Let it get carried away in herb scented clouds of vapor. Face steams are clearing to the sinuses, calming to the nervous system, and soothing to the skin. Put about an inch of water in a large pot, bring it to a boil and turn it off. Let it cool off for a minute or two, then add a small handful of respiratory supporting herbs from our spice rack: rosemary, oregano, or thyme. Lean over and cover your head and pot with a towel. Position yourself so you can feel the steam but you won’t burn your face or nasal passages. Breathe slow and deep.
Stress is not going away. So the more healing herbs and techniques we have in our tool kit, the better prepared we are to weather these storms. No they will not make them go away but having the skills and herbs to release stress, plus staying connected to one another will definitely make them more bearable.