Covid has been ‘doing the rounds’ recently and I know many people who are struggling to return both physically and emotionally to their pre-covid self. Myself included.  

This week I am finally beginning to feel gradually rejuvenated after having covid and simultaneously trying to revise for my upcoming exams. Attempting to concentrate on page after page of phytochemicals and their corresponding health benefits, with a fever and pounding headache left me feeling anxious, avoidant, exhausted and utterly unwilling to engage with human beings. Overwhelmed, in a nutshell.   

As a Medical Herbalist in training, I am being taught to provide a holistic treatment that strengthens the body’s resilience and in-built mechanisms for healing. For example, the herb yarrow is a diaphoretic, which means that it promotes perspiration, thus enabling the elimination of waste-products and improving circulation. Fevers and excess mucus, for example, are our body’s way of responding and healing itself, so herbal medicine works by encouraging rather than suppressing this natural process. Alongside rest.

Society however, doesn’t tell us to rest. In fact, it frequently reminds us to do the exact opposite and pharmaceutical cold and flu medicines work by suppressing symptoms so that we can continue with our daily tasks. Many of us often ask ourselves, but how can I rest when there is simply so much to do? Family, work and exams looming on the horizon are all responsibilities that can make Anadin Express tablets feel like a gift from the Gods. 

But how much of this thought process is also because it’s simply what we’ve learned to do and feel an expectation to do? 

So I found myself reflecting upon the saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. And wondering if this is always the best mentality? I don’t doubt that it is often necessary, but I would like to suggest that just maybe we don’t have to ‘carry on’ constantly. 

So here are some alternative versions:

  • Keep Calm and Step Back
  • Keep Calm and have a Herbal Tea
  • Keep Calm, Reflect and Respond When Ready
  • Keep Calm and Go Back to Bed 
  • Keep Calm and Say: Today is just too much. And that’s OK.   


    Everybody has constant responsibilities, but what about our responsibility to ourselves? Resting now usually means a shorter and more thorough recovery in the long run, so being honest to those around us when we reach our physical and/or emotional capacity can be beneficial for us, as well as our family, partners and friends. It opens up a space for support to be offered while sending the message that it’s OK for them to rest and put themselves first during these times too.   

    Community is also so valuable during times of illness. Building these networks by supporting others and allowing yourself to be supported in return can be a beautiful experience in all of our darkest moments, not just when we’re ill. It takes strength to ask for help and to lean on those around you. Nurture these connections. 

    I’m also learning that every Medical Herbalist needs their own medicine cabinet. So here is a suggestion for a Covid/cold/flu infusion to have at the ready.

Recipe for a cold and flu infusion

Place equal parts dried Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) into a jar,
combine and label accordingly.

Recipe for a cold and flu infusion

Place equal parts dried Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) into a jar,
combine and label accordingly.

As soon as you begin to feel cold and flu-like symptoms, put a couple of tablespoons of the blend into a teapot/infuser, cover and leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes. Repeat throughout the day. 

And resting, as much as possible. Because maybe that’s ok. 

Words by Heather. 

Connecting people.

Connecting people to nature. 

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