Of Stress and Lavender

 

Living our lives is stressful. Whether it’s work, school, kids, pets, bills, or working out, everything takes time and energy. (Don’t even get me started on the political state of the country...that’s a serious emotional stressor in and of itself!)  

Enter lavender. Whether you’re inhaling its soothing aromas via essential oils, tasting it paired with strawberries in a slightly sweet fruit tart, rubbing the flowers between your fingers to smell its ever-so-faint perfume, or drying it out to put on display, lavender is calming, soothing, and emotionally uplifting.

Lavender and calendula at Draper Farms in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity

Lavender and calendula at Draper Farms in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is taking an epsom salt bath with lavender essential oils. I like to turn off the lights, burn non-scented candles, and release all the emotions - good and bad - I had during the day. It’s a great way to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body, and you even get some extra magnesium from the Epsom salts.

Alternatively, if it’s too hot to take a bath, you can put lavender essential oil in a diffuser next to your bed, burn some candles, and relax. Just don’t forget to set a timer to blow out the candles in case you fall asleep!

Lavender bush in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity

Lavender bush in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity

Lavender is in season at the end of June/early July in California. At this time, you’ll see me cutting some flowers from a neighborhood bush (sorry-not-sorry neighbors) to use for lavender tea. It’s even better when mixed with green tea leaves - I like to steep them together for three minutes with the water temperature at 90 degrees so the green tea doesn’t get tannic.

This year, my mother-in-law cut some stalks for me to make tea. Instead, I’m drying them out to use for a flower bouquet to hang in my kitchen (one of favorite, most relaxing things to do is chop vegetables…so why not have some soothing lavender to help that process along). I’ll also take a few dried flowers and add them to my next roasted chicken - cuz herbs de provence ain’t got nothing on my roasted chicken spices.

Lavender bush in Glen Ellen, CA. Photo: @gutofintegrity

Lavender bush in Glen Ellen, CA. Photo: @gutofintegrity

If I’m in the mood for something sweet, I like to make a lavender simple syrup - 1 cup of water to 1/4 cup of coconut sugar or maple sugar (I prefer the floral flavor to the sugary sweet). Once the sugar is melted and the syrup is almost boiling, turn off the heat, put in the fresh flowers (about 8-10), cover and steep for 7 minutes. Remove the flowers, let cool, and drizzle over strawberries, coconut ice cream, or your favorite paleo cake.

Finally, I love using lavender bitters in mocktails to bring out the floral flavors in whichever herb I’m using. Muddled strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries with mint or basil, sparkling water, and 3-4 dashes of lavender bitters is a great drink to sip while relaxing in the sun (with non-nano zinc sunscreen) or shade (your choice).

How do you like to de-stress? Do you use lavender? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Lavender bush in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity

Lavender bush in San Anselmo. Photo: @gutofintegrity