Back in the day, if you were upset or anxious, the go-to remedy was a cuppa. Carrying out the slow, age-old ritual of boiling water and brewing a pot of tea, then pouring and doctoring it with cream and sugar was a sure-fire way to calm and fortify yourself. The ritual restored a sense of order and control to the world.
Having a cuppa is still a wonderful way to ease stress and anxiety. Traditional tea is lovely, but fragrant, healthy herbal teas work just as well—and often, even better.
Stressors fill our lives. Information bombards us constantly: there’s always a phone, a tablet, a computer, a TV, or a radio chattering at us about bombings, floods, shootings, and riots, and even when they’re far away and we’re perfectly safe, they seem close because often, we’re watching them happen in a flat box at the end of our own hand.
At the same time we’re dealing with all the normal stresses of modern life: making a living, caring for our family, doing housework, shopping, trying to eat right, exercise, fit in a little play-time, and somehow pay the bills every month.
Anxious? Who wouldn’t be?
Herbal teas, along with the gentle ritual of brewing and drinking them, can form a quiet island of calm in the middle of this stormy, turbulent sea we call life. Used mindfully, they can slow you down and help you center and ground yourself in the present moment, even during the most hectic day.
Tip: Use a cinnamon stick for stirring–an instant “pick-me-up” and can be used multiple times.
When you feel anxious, here are some that are well worth trying:
- Chamomile: Made from chamomile flowers, this tea takes on a delicate, pale yellow color when brewed, and has a light, apple-like scent. The flavor is mild, easily sweetened with honey or your favorite sweetener. Chamomile may promote relaxation, relieve anxiety and insomnia, and may calm an upset stomach.
- Valerian: This mildly sedating tea is the powdered root of the valerian plant. Scientists believe it stimulates a chemical in the body that helps regulate nerve cells and has a calming effect when anxious. Valerian may relieve insomnia, as well, and may promote quality sleep. It’s frequently combined with other calming herbs.
- Lavender: Made from the dried flowers and essential oils of the lavender plant, this herbal tea has a sweet, lovely scent that calms and soothes. Lavender may help with anxiety, insomnia, and may even lighten your mood.
- Passionflower: The flowers, leaves, and stems of the passionflower make a calming tea that may help with anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and even hysteria.
- Lemon Balm: The leaves of this plant, brewed into a tea, may help reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, relieve insomnia, and even ease indigestion. It has a lemony scent and pleasant taste.
Remember to take your time when brewing and drinking your cuppa tea. Pay attention to the process. Use your favorite cup or mug. Flavor the tea in your favorite way, and when you drink it, savor each sip and enjoy the precious minutes of calm and quiet it takes to drink it. And then be pleased with yourself for taking the time to care for your own health and well-being.
You can find these herbal teas by themselves or, more often, in combination with one another at health food stores or in your local supermarket’s health food section. Please keep in mind that many herbals have mild medicinal properties. Always check with your doctor regarding their safe use given your own medical history, allergies, and any other drugs you may take, as herbals can sometimes cause harmful interactions or interfere with their efficacy.
Leslie Vandever is a professional freelance journalist. She lives in Northern California, where she writes, makes art, and laughs daily at her two feline housemates. She likes chamomile tea.
- A Guide to Herbal Remedies. (2016, May 3) National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on June 1, 2016 from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000868.htm
- Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Guide. (n.d.) University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved on June 2, 2016 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed
- Babauta, L. Tea Rituals for Focus, Health, and Slowness. (n.d.) Zen Habits. Retrieved on June 2, 2016 from http://zenhabits.net/tea-rituals