Enhancing your Joy and Happiness for the New Year

We all need more seeds of joy and happiness for ourselves and the world. Let’s explore various ways ways to cultivate it using plants.

By: Candice Brunlinger (Herbalist, Health and Mindfulness Coach)

Winter is a wonderful time of year, and it isn’t just because of the holidays.  It is a time when we are invited to slow down and focus on our joy and happiness and the happiness of others.  To release the old energy from the year and set new intentions as we plant our seeds for spring.  Considering the last couple of years we have had, we all need more seeds of joy and happiness for ourselves and the world.  Let’s explore various ways to cultivate it and use our plant allies for support.

Feelings and emotions come from within us and are influenced by our external environment.  For this reason, it is essential to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings preventing us from consistently experiencing our joy and happiness.  Use plants to address this and incorporate plants known for enhancing and connecting to these uplifting feelings.

How are you being triggered by your environment?  What can you change in your environment and routine to feel good?  At the same time, use plants to nourish and address what needs to be changed and released within to feel more joy. 

Plants are vital as they provide essential nutrition for mood regulation, aromatics for physical and emotional well-being, and spirit medicine to shift our beliefs and emotional patterns influencing the flow of our emotional bodies and energy pathways.

Before we delve deeper into plants, take a moment to think about what makes you feel joy and happiness?  What activities, thoughts, and beliefs allow you to connect to your joyful nature and innate happiness?  Here are some general examples to help get you started.  Get specific when you create your list. 

  • Spending time in nature and outdoors
  • Walking for 30+ minutes daily
  • Doing playful activities that make you laugh & smile
  • Creative expression – arts, crafts, writing, dancing, singing
  • Rest and Self-Care
  • Spending time with loved ones 
  • Being with animals & children
  • Community Outreach/Volunteering/Philanthropy
  • Prayer & Positive intentions towards others
  • Gratitude intentions/journaling
  • Affirmations & Positive mindset
  • Tapping/EFT/Energy Psychology
  • Stretching & physical activity
  • Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga
  • Meditation & Mindfulness
  • Rainbow Plant-Rich Diet
  • Gardening and connecting to plants
  • Sense of achievement and accomplishment
  • Learning new things
  • Unplugging from technology and taking breaks from the news, information, social media, and screens.

Once you determine what brings you joy, ask yourself, “what is preventing me from doing this and uncovering my inner joy?” Is it time, money, energy, nutrition, or feeling defeated and unworthy?  Now you can address that belief or block.  This is where plants can become our allies to support this process.

Plant Nutrition

Nutrition is essential for optimal mood and emotional regulation.  A “rainbow diet” with a diversity of PLANTS will help diversify the nutrition we need for a healthy brain, heart, nervous system, gut, and microbiome.  If we eat junk food (dead, processed food), we will feel more depressed, sluggish, and lack vitality.  If we primarily eat whole foods and plants, consuming the rainbow of colors daily, we will feel more vibrant, energized, and happy.  Think about how a rainbow makes you feel.  We have the potential to feel uplifted, consuming the joyous rainbow from plants with each meal, bringing that energy into each cell and energy system.  

Are there any specific colors that help you feel happy inside?  Bring in as many colors as you can into your life and notice how they influence your mood.

The “Rainbow Diet” - A plant-based brain-diet or mood-regulating diet

  • Aim for at least three colors on your plate each meal and the whole spectrum daily (red, orange, yellow, purple/blue, green, and white). 
  • Cook with herbs and spices, edible weeds and flowers, dark leafy greens, and root vegetables.
  • Incorporate protein-rich legumes and small amounts of lean meat (organic, free-range, grass-finished, etc.)  into your meals and snack on nuts and seeds.  Protein helps maintain healthy blood sugar, which supports mood regulation.
  • Eat foods rich in essential fatty acids--necessary for healthy neurons and the brain.
  • Moderate your sugar intake and eat whole food carbohydrates.  Both provide essential fuel for the cells; however, most prepared food and drinks have too much sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates, which disrupt our mood regulation.
  • Eat fermented foods from various food groups to support a healthy microbiome.  When our beneficial gut bugs thrive in diversity, they can produce and convert the necessary neurotransmitters (i.e., serotonin) we need to feel happy, energized, and uplifted.  If we do not have a healthy microbiome, we can not produce our hormones to feel good.
  • Eat culinary and medicinal mushrooms.  Lion’s main mushroom is particularly beneficial for supporting a healthy brain, neurogenesis, and mood regulation.  It is one of my go-to mushrooms to spark my energy, motivation, creativity, and feel good overall.

The B-complex, Omegas, Magnesium, and Vitamin D are a few essential nutrients for a healthy and happy mood.  Get what you can from food and supplement if needed.

Then incorporate herbal medicine, aromatherapy, and flower essences into your daily routine.  I like to work with all of them as it provides various ways to connect to the plants throughout the day and while we sleep to support our innate joy and happiness.

Herbal Support

In addition to using plants in food, you can consume herbal tea using uplifting or relaxing herbs, depending on what you need at the moment for balance and connection.  Herbal extracts such as oxymels, tinctures, and oils are delicious and fun ways to bring in the biochemical compounds and nutrition from the plants.  Herbal allies are lovely support for the physical body, enhancing cellular functions, neurons, and gut microbiome for optimal mood.  The aromas from the plants also work their magic for joy and happiness.  Here are a few of my favorite “happy” herbs:

Lemon Balm – This uplifting mint calms anxiety and helps us to slow down to feel happy.  Its lemony aroma and flavor lift our spirits.  It is beneficial for those prone to be hyperactive, hyper-vigilant, and too busy to slow down to enjoy the moment.  Those who get trapped in their triggers and stressors and need to take the edge off the anxiety loop felt in the mind and body.

St. Johnswort – This plant brings in the light from the sun to lift our spirits.  It also has a shielding benefit that protects us from external stressors.  Internally, St. Johnswort can increase serotonin uptake and supports the liver to detox both environmental and emotional toxins.  As we release emotional blocks, especially those triggering sadness, irritability, resentment, and anger, we reveal the joy and happiness within us.  St. Johnswort is one of our go-to plants for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as it brings us light during the darkest time of year.  Use caution with this plant if you are taking any pharmaceutical medications or birth control, as this plant can detox it out before they take effect.  The flower essence would be a good option in these cases. 

Rose – Rose protects and opens the heart for healthy connections and boundaries.  The heart is how we relate and interact with ourselves and the world.  Its vitality can become compromised when the collective or individual is experiencing hardship and is in survival mode.  Personal boundaries can either be too abrasive or non-existent, affecting our sense of self, integrity, communication, and relationships.  Rose helps to bring us into our heart coherence when we feel disconnected from life, vitality, sense of self, and joy.  Rose allows us to connect to our inner beauty and grace to express our love and joy with boundaries that others can receive.  She guides us to loving and nourishing ourselves first.  Then opens our heart energy and expands our ability to behold the collective from a place of compassion and non-judgment. 

Hawthorn – This is another plant that opens and protects the heart.  It nourishes the heart physically and energetically by bringing peace to agitation and irritability.  It can help those who often project their will and beliefs onto others to reel in their energy and find acceptance.  To be able to connect with others and agree to disagree.

Tulsi – This adaptogen helps build resilience against our triggers by regulating our adrenals and calming our nervous system to feel grounded and energized.  It integrates the gut and heart neurons with the brain and regulates the vagus nerve for feeling safe, embodied, calm, peaceful, and happy.  This is one of my go-to herbs when burnout and anxiety prevent feelings of empowerment, connectedness, and contentment.

Cacao – Chocolate is a delightful comfort (in moderation) and lifts the spirit.  Dark chocolate is preferred, and a little can go a long way with mood regulation.  Be wary of relying on chocolate for emotional eating, as too much can have the opposite effect. 

Mints, citrus, berries, and flowers can uplift our mood.  Nourishing herbs such as nettle, oats, dandelion, burdock, etc., provide the vitamins and minerals for a healthy nervous system and gut.  

Which herbs help you feel happy?


Aromatherapy is when plant aromatics shift the physical or emotional body by penetrating the tissues and limbic system to influence neurotransmitters, mood, and memories.  Some aromas help us feel relaxed and safe.  Others help us feel uplifted and spark creativity.  When you set intentions and use them thoughtfully, aromas can be valuable allies to regulate our mood.  High-quality essential oils can help us unlock cellular memories in our subconscious that are hidden from us and prevent us from feeling our joy and happiness.

What scent(s) feels good to you?  Which aromas make you feel grounded, safe, and happy?  Which ones feel uplifting and enhance feelings of joy and happiness within?

You can dilute the essential oils in a diffuser to breathe in the aromatics throughout the day.  Add a few drops of essential oil into an ounce of oil for a perfume you can apply on the skin.  Add the oil(s) in a spray bottle with water, hydrosol, or witch hazel extract to mist around you and your environment.  Or, add one drop to a small piece of card stock paper and carry it around you or place it next to you while you work/rest/sleep.

There are many ways to work with aromatherapy in bath and body care.  Self-care is essential to feeling happy and joyful.  Incorporate your favorite aromas into your baths, facials, body scrubs, massage, and other ways of nourishing your connection to your body.  Touch and sensuality can do wonders for our innate happiness, creative spark, and joy.  Here are a few of my favorite oils.  Be sure the oils are high quality, organic, and sustainable. 

Lavender Oil – a relaxing oil that calms stress and enhances feelings of peace.  The aroma often brings a sweet smile to the face.  Lavender also blends well with many other oils and helps to harmonize scents.  There are many varieties of lavender.  Allow your nose to guide you.

Bergamot Oil – This uplifting citrus oil brings in sunshine energy and enhances our joy and light within.  Dilute this oil and use it in moderation, as too much bergamot can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight. 

Orange/Lemon/Grapefruit Oils – Citrus aromas are uplifting with sunshine energy.  They enhance our zest for life (pun intended).  Notice which ones you resonate the most with and how they bring out your inner joy and happiness to radiate in the world.

Jasmine Oil – This lovely aroma helps us connect to the joy of our sensuality and earthly comforts and pleasures.  I especially love this oil when burnout and exhaustion take over our desire to be playful, sensual, and embody our inner child. 

Basil Oil – For burnout and adrenal fatigue.  Basil restores the nervous system and helps us feel grounded initially, followed by feeling energized, motivated, and creative.  Basil provides a spark that ignites us when feeling bogged down.

Rose Oil – This precious oil works well for depression, deep sadness/grief, anxiety, isolation, and disconnect.  Use rose oil to uncover your inner-self and innate happiness.  To help release the stuck energy closing off your heart.  To nourish and expand your energy to feel connected with acceptance, compassion, and unconditional love.

Explore our extensive collection of essential oils, aromatic spritzers, and aromatic accessories to enhance happiness in your life. 

Flower/Plant/Gem Essences

Essences enhance and synergize the benefits of herbal support and any medicine influencing our physical body.  They work specifically with the emotional and spiritual bodies and do not contain any biochemical compounds from the plants.  When you incorporate essences with herbal support, you bring a cohesive synergy to support your physical-emotional-mental-spiritual bodies.

Essences are a good option for those who must use caution with herbal support when taking mood stabilizers and other pharmaceutical medications.  Try to keep it simple when using essences.  Address the primary or underlying issue using 1-3 essences consistently for some time.  When that issue feels resolved, move on to another blend for the next, and so on.

Here are a few of my favorite essences for joy and happiness:

Baby Blue Eyes – This flower connects us to our inner child’s innocence and joy.  This essence can be helpful for those who have had childhood trauma and emotional neglect (especially from the father), preventing them from feeling safe, trusting, or worthy enough to embody joy and happiness.  When feeling insecure, isolated, and a lack of community.  This essence is indicative when cynicism and pessimism are covering joy and happiness.

Holly – This essence is especially beneficial during these times of social division and discourse.  Holly is all about love and acceptance.  Self-love and extending love out to others and the collective.  It is about embodying universal love and light, being inclusive and whole.  With the collective energy feeling so divided, fostering universal acceptance and joy for everyone, no matter their beliefs, embodies and reflects our joy and happiness from within.

Hornbeam – This essence is for the mundane and bored.  For those lacking purpose and connection to life’s work.  When stuck in a monotonous routine that does not encourage personal and spiritual growth, creative self-expression, or joy.  When feeling stuck without a connection to what makes you happy.  

Impatiens – This essence is for the irritable and impatient.  Those always on the run are often avoiding their joy and happiness.  When there is no time for pleasure or feeling happy, use this essence to remove the blocks from preventing you from taking the time to slow down and smell the roses.  To take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Mustard – This is the essence to help bring our soul out from despair and darkness to discover our inner joy.  To feel emotional balance in the presence of doom and gloom energy.  To help transform depression and melancholy into light and joy.

Zinnia – Our joy comes from our inner child, the part of us that desires play, laughter, and fun.  Zinnia connects us to our inner child and sense of humor.  The part of us that laughs and does not take life so seriously.  Use this essence to dissolve the pressures of the adult ego and allow playfulness to fill your cup for abundant joy and happiness.  Zinnia reminds us that laughter is the best medicine.

Orange Calcite – This gem has uplifting, warming, and energizing qualities.  An essence or carrying the stone on you can help open the heart to receive the energy from the sun for joy, creativity, and feeling connected to self and purpose.  It is indicative for sadness, depression, fatigue, lack of motivation, joy, and creativity.  When it is challenging to see the positive or be optimistic.

Rest, play, love, gratitude, and joy all restore our nervous system and provide a reset for our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental bodies.  When we take time to reset, we can integrate these bodies to work together in coherence resulting in vibrant health, a resilient immune system, strengthened organ functions, regulated emotions, and a healthier stress response.  

We can experience more joy and happiness when we cultivate it throughout the day.  It only takes a moment to do, think, or say something that encourages the production and utilization of our feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters.  Connect to plants and all their offerings as often as you can, and you will be connecting to your inner joy and happiness, allowing it to ripple into the world.

Have a Happy New Year filled with joy, peace, love, and acceptance!!

Candice and her joyful son

If you are interested in exploring this topic some more with me, visit my website and sign up for a one-to-one consultation to delve deeper into your emotional support using meditation, mindfulness, energy healing, EFT/Tapping, and/or plant medicine.

About the Author:

Candice Brunlinger is an Herbalist, Intuitive Healer, Health & Wellness Educator, and Mindfulness Coach with an integrative approach to healing using plants, nutrition, self-care, and energy practices, including Tai Chi, Qigong, and EFT/Tapping.

She supports others with simple solutions to empower health through whole food nutrition, emotional freedom, and mindfulness.  Explore her online courses, class offerings, and one-on-one health coaching at www.herballivingandhealing.com