No need to ingest plants here, just viewing them can calm you down.

The weather is getting gloomy, the holidays are looming, and there are few flowers left in our gardens to lift our spirits. Stress, anxiety and nasty thoughts can take their toll.

As the mother of two teenagers, I am challenged by stress on a regular basis. One of my classmates at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition told me that she uses flower essences to help her alleviate her anxiety attacks, and suggested that I give it a try. I didn’t have to go online or visit some strange apothecary, the products were as close as Whole Foods.

The Whole Body department carries a number of flower essences made by Bach Original Flower Remedies. British physician Dr. Edward Bach developed dozens of tinctures of different flowers and plants to treat worries, compulsions and even addictions. You can fill out a questionnaire online or fill out the one on the brochure near the product display if you want to choose the essences for any specific issues you want to treat.

I went for the most popular product, “Rescue Remedy.” It has rock rose, star of Bethlehem, impatiens, cherry plum and clematis because Dr. Bach found that these five plants in particular have “special energy properties to calm agitated emotions.” I put four drops in a cup of water and take it when I’m feeling like I might otherwise turn to a piece of chocolate or glass of wine, and it does seem to help. There are versions of Rescue Remedy for sleep, for children, and even for pets. A small bottle is $12.95.

Another stress reliever from the world of botany is our own Oak Park Conservatory. This is a welcome oasis just south of the Eisenhower, and it serves as a place to get near the calming influence of plants all year round. It is open Monday 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $2.00 per person.

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Lisa Browdy

We all know what to do, and many of us resolve to do it every year: eat better, exercise more, lose weight and reduce stress. We may have many demands on our time and energy, and not a lot of cash to spare...