“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let’s be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.”

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Managing Stress

Stress is a major contributing factor to overall health, as well. Today’s world is full of constant change, increasing demands and an abundance of frivolous distractions. Most of us find it hard to keep up with even the most basic tasks of the daily grind like eating right and taking proper care of ourselves and our home. It is widely accepted that high stress levels and poor health are woefully linked but much can be done to counteract the effects.

Sitting in an apple tree

Spending time outside, walking barefoot on soft grass, daily prayer, meditation or simply sitting silently and peacefully for an extended period of time can be refreshing and will help to keep you centered as well as mentally sharp.

Hobbies are another great outlet for releasing stress. They might be as simple as listening to music or reading a book, or more interactive like playing a sport, practicing handcrafts or gardening. The intent is to give your mind and body a change of pace and a chance to relax, as well as the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests. If you don’t already have a hobby, experiment with new activities until you find something that appeals to you.

“Yes, in the poor man’s garden grow Far more than herbs and flowers – Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind, And joy for weary hours.”

author unknown

Positively Encouraging Botanicals

Remember sleeping with the windows open on muggy summer nights so you could smell the sweet, rich fragrance of gardenias and the strawberry bush in your grandmother’s back yard? Remember the refreshing, sweet taste of peppermint in your iced tea as you would swing lazily in the hammock on the porch? Remember that old willow tree out by the pond, and the way it’s long boughs of leaves whispered in a gentle breeze?

It’s not just a coincidence that some of our fondest memories involve botanicals, especially fragrant and tasty ones. Though they seem to be just humble plants, modern research reinforces what our ancestors discovered long ago: that botanicals can have a surprisingly, powerfully positive influence on our well-being.

Utilitarian Kitchen Gardens


Gardens of early America were managed according to the idea that all plants grown in a garden should be useful in some way: whether for “meate” (to eat – e.g., sallet herbs and roots, pot herbs) or for “physick” (to heal or provide other household assistance – e.g., strewing herbs, medicinal plants).

Early American settlers relied heavily on botanicals for various practical uses, including food, medicine and hygiene. These useful botanicals were either grown in kitchen gardens or gathered from the wilderness, and many of these plants served multiple purposes.

The settlers brought seeds and cuttings of their favorite plants with them to the New World, and discovered many new and unfamiliar plants once they arrived. Native American indians were especially helpful in teaching the settlers about useful botanical resources in their new surroundings. A number of these useful native plants eventually found their way into cultivated gardens.

Known as “kitchen gardens”, they were typically tended by the lady of the house. The gardens found in rural areas were much less formal than those found in cities and towns; however, they were all arranged in an orderly manner. Every garden would have a border or fence around the perimeter, dedicated plots inside for various types of plants, and paths for walking among them.

Kitchen gardens contained a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers and many of them served multiple purposes.

Planning the Switch to More Nutritious Food

The overall approach to changing your eating habits is to systematically eliminate unhealthy items and find nourishing and delicious replacements for them.

Switching over can be immediate or gradual. The most dramatic results are realized by adventurous folks who aren’t afraid to make these kind of big changes all at once. However, it is fine to make incremental changes at a moderate pace, or even rather slowly for those folks with a more timid disposition.

A gradual switch over might begin with a small selection of maybe 3 to 5 of the most egregious ingredients in your old diet. Once you’ve become comfortable with the new healthier substitutions, you may continue to phase out more of the most unhealthy ingredients a few at the time.

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your destiny.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

A New Way of Thinking about Food

Food is the body’s primary source of nutrition, which means it can profoundly boost or hinder your health. Nutritious foods can be healing. Unhealthy foods can be poisonous. And so, to the greatest extent possible, it is wise to view your food as medicine. Thinking about food in this way can be life changing.

Very simply, nutritious foods are comprised of ingredients that contribute positively to the function of the human body. Quality nutrition tends to be found in naturally occurring foods that are as clean from contamination and indigestible elements as possible, and as minimally prepared (as close to raw) as possible.

A healthier pantry should contain a good number of natural items that might have been found in a pantry belonging to your ancestors, with a few modern adaptations.

Making Healthier Choices

Breaking old, unhealthy habits is hard work. How do you even start to make these kinds of life altering changes? The short answer is: One step at a time, in a way that makes the most sense to you.

You may decide to start by focusing on just a couple of the most offending habits in your life, or you may go all out with a fully documented plan to tackle them all. Either way, as you gain confidence and begin to notice improvements, you will be encouraged to continue making changes.

Copyright 2019, Ruffin Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.
Colonial Garden Bench
© 2019, Colonial Botanicals

You might find it helpful to write a letter to yourself so that when setbacks or doubts creep up, you’ll have a reminder of why you wanted to make such a change in the first place.

Take into account your true motivations, realistically recognizing your own personal strengths and weaknesses, and reasonably considering any other opportunities and limitations that may affect your desired outcome.

Give yourself credit for the healthy habits you already have and define achievable phases or steps to improve in other areas.

Whether you write it all down or not, planning and thinking through the implications of these changes before you get started will raise the level of your success.

At first it may take a little time and effort to change those old habits but before long, you’ll begin to realize positive results and an efficient routine will evolve.

It is true that transitions on this scale can be overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. Listen to your heart. If you know that changes are necessary, you can find the right way to make them happen.

An Old-Fashioned Approach to Life

If modern life seems to be twisting you around in a perpetually out-of-control tailspin, then it is time for you to take control ~ of you!

Slow down, take a break from the madness, reflect and dig deep into yourself. You must identify the things in life that are most important to you and focus your energy on them.

Make the choice to consciously and actively pursue a more deliberate existence and you will discover clarity, more meaning and purpose in your life. As a wise soul once advised: all the answers are within… trust yourself!

Your lifestyle directly affects your health. How you nourish your body, interact with your environment, heal your infirmities and manage stress will determine your level of health not just for today, but for the rest of your life.

Colonial Botanicals is about intentionally choosing a simpler, old-fashioned and more natural approach to life, adopting what might have been the mindset of our great grandparents.

Effective solutions for a healthier life often can be rediscovered from various cultures, time periods, natural sciences and through plain old common sense.

This blog shares just these kinds of tried and true ideas for improving your health in many ways including how you eat, clean your home, care for your body and reduce stress.