I’ve had four separate conversations with people in the last few weeks who are looking to cut back their alcohol consumption. One of the common themes is that part of the reason they drink alcohol is for the “rituals” around the alcohol, not the alcohol itself. For example:
One person liked to “unwind at wine o’clock“
One person loved the sense of luxury of a well-poured drink in a beautiful glass
One person had days where they felt like they “needed a drink” after dealing with obnoxious people and difficult situations
One loved the creativity of mixology and the flavor combinations they could concoct
In these cases, teas and other herbal products can help “fill the gap” left when you cut back on alcohol. “Wine o’clock” becomes “Tea thirty” as you prepare yourself something tasty and mentally unwind. A gorgeous tea pot and favorite cup can elevate a simple tea to a delicacy. Herbal syrups and infusions can be blended with non-alcoholic mixers into a creative array of zero-proof cocktails.
If you’d like to try subbing tea for some of your alcohol, here are some I’d suggest:
I’ve been having a rough time with the wildfire smoke the last couple weeks. Not full-on asthma attack bad, but definitely feeling tight in my chest, like I can’t get a full breath.
Indoor air purifiers help a lot. My criteria for a filter include:
Needs to work well against smoke. Key words to look for: Filters particles smaller than 2.5 microns; MERV 13 (for furnace filters); and a high CADR rating for smoke. (Conveniently, this will also filter for viruses, as well.)
It should not produce ozone – so no ionizers, no “electronic air cleaners.”
It has to be QUIET, and it has to filter well when it’s on its quietest setting. When you see performance data, that assumes it’s on high. I have bat-like hearing, so the absolute loudness (decibels) and the pitch of the noise are very important to me. I’ve found 17 decibels is great; 23 is OK; and anything 40+ is hard to listen to for long. YMMV.
I prefer things with fewer electronics, bells, and whistles that draw as little as electricity as possible.
Filters should be affordable.
Here’s what I’ve found works for me (and no, I don’t profit from these links and I wasn’t bribed to say nice things about these):
Model 411 (discontinued) and 511, for small rooms like bedrooms and home office. On low, I can barely tell it’s on. On high, it will reduce the PM2.5 in my office from 25 to 10 in about 15 minutes. Consumer Reports said these are one of the only filters that do anything meaningful at low speed.
Model 211+ (discontinued, but available on eBay – be sure it’s the 211+ or 211+Auto and not the plain 211). This is essentially the same as the 411, but for bigger rooms. It’s kind of large, but it can reduce the PM2.5 from 80 (unhealthy) to 20 (moderate) in a 12×15 room in about 15 minutes.
Model 211i Max (new) – I’ve ordered this one, but haven’t received it yet. Basically, it’s the 211+ with some additional features, like a built-in PM2.5 sensor and phone app support. It’ll turn itself on when the air quality gets low and turn down or off when it gets better.
There’s also a 311 auto that’s still in production that is larger than the 411 but smaller than the 211.
A standalone air quality monitor is super helpful.
Look for one that measures PM2.5 – smoke particles fall into this category.
Note that the scale used for PM2.5 is different than the Air Quality Index (AQI) number you see reported on the weather. It’s nice if your monitor has both.
A couple key points:
I’d rather buy a larger purifier and run it on low than buy a smaller purifier and run it on high.
Check eBay for used purifiers. Watch the shipping prices, and expect you’ll need to buy a new filter from the manufacturer right away. I wouldn’t buy filters off eBay, though; it’s very little savings and there’s no way to know for sure the filters are unused and not knockoffs.
You can’t cheat physics. Buying a purifier that’s too small for your space will help some, but it’s not going to have the power to do the job when the smoke gets into the “unhealthy” range.
Focus on really, really cleaning the air in one or two rooms. Keep the door closed and crank it up. If noise is an issue, turn it up when you leave the room and down when you come back.
These Blue models draw tiny bits of electricity – the 411 draws 2 watts on low – so just let them run all the time instead of trying to save electricity or filters by turning them off and on multiple times a day.
I’ll post later about some herbs that have also helped me during this time.
I’m guessing a lot of folks out there are having a hard time recuperating from COVID, chronic stress, burnout, and the accumulated fatigue of years of coping through a pandemic. Maybe you feel like you’ve been resting a lot, but you don’t seem to be able to recover that last bit of your energy from the “before times.” Or maybe you were already burned out then!
I’ve just released my new course Self-Care for Restoration, where I teach concrete techniques for moving from total rest into active recovery without falling into a cycle of overdoing-and-crashing. Here’s a sample video, aimed right at all you go-getters who are at a loss when people tell you to “slow down” and “just rest”!
Launch special – I’m offering the course as a name-your-price offering starting at just $5.
I’m excited to announce that I will be sharing my new course, Self-Care for Restoration, as a name-your-price series beginning this week!
If you’ve had a viral illness or a prolonged bout of stress, it’s not unexpected to feel tired. But ongoing, crushing fatigue could be a sign of a more serious condition. We’re told to “rest a lot” and “don’t push yourself,” but figuring out how to care for yourself, and then following through, can feel like just another chore competing for your limited energy. This course will help you understand why rest is so important after illness or stress, how this bout of fatigue might be different from normal tiredness, how to measure your physical and mental energy expenditures, and how to pace yourself for complete recovery.
This self-paced online course may be right for you if you:
Are exhausted from months or years of chronic stress
Have mostly recovered from Covid and still don’t feel back to your usual levels of energy
Have a pattern of overdoing it, then crashing
Are trying to “take it easy” but can’t seem to get fully rested
Aren’t really sick anymore…but haven’t really gotten well
This course has practical advice for giving your body the space it needs to recover and will guide you to build a recuperation program that suits your unique needs. The program has three phases:
In each phase, I quickly sum up the physiology of what’s happening in your body during that phase, the #1 thing to focus on in each phase, and practical tips for helping yourself progress to the next phase of restoration. Then I share activity recommendations and a physical practice video and go into more detail on the how-and-why behind my recommendations, if you have the interest and energy to explore deeper. I’ve even developed a week of deeply nourishing menus to reduce the work of feeding yourself well at this time!
There is no timeline for recovery – instead, I help you learn to follow your body’s cues for what it needs. Chances are, if you are experiencing the symptoms above, the old rules about what your body needs don’t apply right now. I’ll teach you what body signals you need to pay attention to, how to track them qualitatively and quantitatively, and how to know when it’s safe to increase your activity.
Because I feel strongly that this course material needs to be out in the world and accessible to as many people as possible, I am offering it on a pay-what-you-will basis – including “free.”
Cooked fruit is a tasty and healthy winter treat. It’s basically a winter smoothie – minus the shock of cold that your stomach really doesn’t need this time of year. You get all the vitamins, fiber, and pectin in a much easier-to-digest format than raw fruit. I especially love this one during the gray days of winter – the bright lemon flavor wakes up my tastebuds!
About 5 medium-sized apples
One organic Meyer lemon
About 2″ of fresh ginger root
Optional: a cup or two of frozen or canned blueberries
2-4 Tbl maple syrup
Peel, core, and chop the apples.
Wash the lemon well, because you are going to eat the peel. Cut into quarters, then slice each quarter thinly. Discard any seeds.
Scrub or peel the ginger and dice small.
Add apples, lemon, and ginger (and blueberries, if using) to a pan and simmer until the apples have cooked down to a thick applesauce consistency and the lemon and ginger are cooked through.
Add maple syrup to your taste. The finished product will be delightfully tart but shouldn’t be painfully acidic.
Use a variety of apples for best results. It’s ideal to have some cooking apples, like McIntosh, and some firmer apples, like Galas so you get both the smooth, saucy texture and some firmer bites of apple. But it’ll be good no matter what – and this is a great recipe to use up apples that have gone soft or wrinkly!
Organic is especially important if you are eating the peel; they spray citrus with a really scary cocktail of chemicals. If you don’t have a Meyer lemon, a regular lemon will do.
Blueberries add great color and a hit of anthocyanins – this is a great way to use frozen blueberries if the idea of a frozen smoothie in the winter makes you cringe!