Stress seems to be the one constant in our lives today. It is all too easy to end up taking on more than we feel we can handle, whether out of a sense of duty or a dislike of saying no to those closest to us. This is particularly true in the holiday season – the pressures of trying to balance money, work and family can seem truly overwhelming.
Taking a few minutes to relax with a warm cup of herbal tea can help to take the edge off the ragged nerves of this time of year, and here’s a list of the top 10 to try.
Chamomile is probably the best-known herb in use today, precisely because it is a wonderful stress reliever and, unlike some of the herbs on this list, it tastes good in a tea. Adding a cup of chamomile tea to your nightly routine can help you to sleep better, which helps to control the production of the stress-hormone, cortisol.
Like chamomile, the stress-relieving properties of lavender are well known, making it a popular scent to add to a wide range of products from sleep pillows to bath salts. It is particularly good at easing tension headaches and other aches and pains caused by stress-induced muscle clenching.
Lemon balm is a calming herb which has been used to help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety since the Middle Ages or longer. It is seldom used alone, but is often combined with chamomile and valerian for a wonderfully relaxing bedtime drink.
In spite of the name, it is the fruit of the plant which holds the benefits. It boosts production of a chemical called GABA which helps to lower anxious brain activity and soothe away worries caused by overthinking. Studies have shown these benefits to be short-term, however, so saving passionflower for when you really need it might be a better idea.
Both Chinese and Siberian ginseng help to boost our ability to cope with the stress of modern living. It delays and reduces the production of cortisol, helping to ease stress without the sedative effects of valerian, hops, and chamomile.
This is a close cousin to the sweet basil commonly used in cooking, and is also known as Tulsi. It helps to regulate cortisol levels, along with helping to boost the immune system – an added benefit at this time of year, when colds and flu are more common. However, it is a herb to be cautious with while pregnant – seek advice in this case.
Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, so it should come as no great surprise that it has uses other than being a great tasting and refreshing drink. Studies have shown that people who drink five cups of green tea a day have significantly less trouble dealing with stressful situations than those who don’t.
Valerian is often used to help to cure insomnia, since it causes drowsiness, but it is also a great herb to use to help to combat the effects of stress. It is a mild sedative, and as such can certainly help you to get a good night’s sleep, and that is a stress-reliever all on its own.
Yes, hops. They’re used in beer, but that is only the start of their uses. They don’t taste very good, though, so use very sparingly and add a sweeter tasting herb such as lavender if you intend to give hops a try. They do have a wonderfully relaxing effect – if you can stomach them.