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Summer Is Not For Sissies!

Updated: 2 days ago

June is a time of new and intense energy radiating from the early summer sun. With the change of season, comes a heightened intensity in the summer. The farm’s growing capacity increases, as does the amount of physical effort it takes to complete farm tasks, and of course, the humidity. All of these things require more energy once we cross the threshold into June. It’s important to note that you may feel an increased level of stress. Additionally, stress can show up in so many ways, affecting both your physical and mental health.


Impacts of stress on physical health: 

Muscle Tension: Chronic stress puts the physical body, with all its muscles and tendons, in a constant state of guardedness. These systems are prepared to be activated and are always prepared to be in what is known as “fight or flight” mode. These muscles being tense for so long can trigger other reactions within the body and actually promote other stress-related disorders. Everything within the body is connected and can all have cascading effects. 


Respiratory Issues: Stress can easily cause shortness of breath and hyperventilation, both of which can exacerbate current breathing difficulties such as asthma or COPD.


Gastrointestinal Issues: The gastrointestinal tract has hundreds of millions of neurons that are all in constant communication with the brain. This is why we say we have a “gut feeling” about something or how we can “feel butterflies” when we’re nervous. Stress can alter brain-gut communication, and often can trigger pain, bloating, and other gut discomfort. The gut is also home to millions of bacteria, which are responsible for gut and brain health and are impacted by stress levels. 


Endocrine System and Immune System: During times of stress, a cascade of hormonal signals tells the adrenal glands to increase their production of cortisol and adrenaline. This helps the body activate into a fight-or-flight response, which is helpful during moments of acute stress, but if our bodies stay elevated too long, it can have damaging effects on our endocrine, and therefore, immune systems.  Too much cortisol can decrease the number of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that help fight off infection and therefore suppress your immune system's ability to fight off infection. 


These are just a few ways stress can negatively impact our bodies. There are unfortunately so many more. However, for as many ways as stress can show up in the body, there are just as many ways to help combat it, ranging from herbal and supplementary to lifestyle and diet. 


Herbal Approach to Chronic Stress: Due to the levels of chronic stress experienced on a daily scale, many people benefit from herbs that are known as tonic herbs. Tonic herbs can be taken safely over a long period of time, and in fact, work more effectively when they’re used daily. These herbs work to rejuvenate and nourish our bodies back to a level of homeostasis. Many tonic herbs are also adaptogens, which specifically work to balance and mitigate the effects of stress on our bodies.

Examples of tonifying herbs include holy basil (or tulsi), milky oats, ashwagandha, lemon balm, and lavender.  


Recipes for managing stress: 

Daily Stress Tonifying Elixir from Mountain Rose Herbs (

Makes about 24 ounces.


  • ½ cup organic dried holy basil

  • ¼ cup organic ashwagandha root

  • ¼ cup organic astragalus root

  • ½ cup raw, local honey

  • 2 ½ cups alcohol of choice


  • Combine holy basil, ashwagandha, and astragalus in a quart-size jar.

  • Add honey and stir well to combine.

  • Pour in alcohol until completely covered.

  • Cover the jar and shake well.

  • Infuse for at least 2 weeks, storing in a cool dark place.

  • Shake the blend every few days.

  • Strain the elixir and transfer it to clean glass bottles.

  • Label and date the elixir.

  • Enjoy about one teaspoon to support you during stressful times.

Pro Tips

  • Store in a cool, dark place where it can last for several years.

  • As with any herbal preparation, dosage should be determined based on the status of your health and guidance from a qualified herbal practitioner. A teaspoon seems to do well for most people, but this should not be taken as a dosage recommendation.


Yield: 10 bars



  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds, rough chop

  • 1/2 cup raw pepita seeds (or unsalted sunflower seeds)

  • 2/3 cup puffed rice

  • 2/3 cup dried blueberries

  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or hemp seeds

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Line an 8”x 8” baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl combine almonds, pepita seeds, puffed rice, dried blueberries, coconut and chia, or hemp seeds. Toss and set aside.

  • In a small pan, heat honey, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, and vanilla over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Let the sauce boil for 4 to 5 minutes.

  • When the sauce is ready, pour it evenly over the almond mixture and quickly stir the mixture until it is evenly coated with the sauce. Move fast, it hardens quickly!

  • Quickly transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and press it firmly into the dish into an even layer.

  • Let the bars cool for 30 minutes.

  • Carefully lift the parchment paper from the baking dish and transfer it to a cutting board. Peel the parchment paper away from the bars.

  • Cut the bars into desired shapes and sizes.

  • Place into a sealed container and store at room temperature. The bars will last up to 10 days, or you can freeze them up to three months.


Mediterranean Grain Bowl Recipe by Whole Foods (


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced

  • 1 (13.4-ounce) can 365 Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

  • 1 (8.8-ounce) package 365 by Whole Foods Market Quinoa and Bulgur Wheat Blend, cooked according to package directions

  • 6 cups spring mix

  • 1 avocado, quartered and sliced

  • 2 medium red beets, cut into thin matchsticks

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil with parsley, mint, dill, salt, and pepper.

  • Add cucumber and toss, then spoon the cucumber into a separate bowl, leaving the herb mixture behind.

  • Next, add the garbanzo beans to the herb mixture, toss to coat, and set aside.

  • To assemble, place ½ cup ­­­­cooked grains in each of the 4 serving bowls.

  • Add spring mix to bowls, then top with cucumbers, garbanzo beans, avocados, beets, olives and pine nuts.

  • Tuck a wedge of lemon into each bowl and serve.


The Positive Impact of Community on Stress Levels: 

Studies have shown that individuals with a negative sense of community had significantly higher odds of reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Additionally, it has been found that social isolation impacts the brain similarly to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Lacking social relationships and community can impair cognitive function, increase the risk of depression and anxiety, and lower overall quality of life. Therefore, having a healthy social life and support system, like the one you can find at Chickahominy Falls, can positively impact your mental and physical wellbeing and lead to lower levels of stress!

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