I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this. Who doesn’t love a hot cup of tea to help soothe the nerves? Whether you feel anxious, have insomnia, or just want some help relaxing your body and mind, this article might be of help to you. The herbs and techniques below may also be of help in reducing tension headaches as well as digestive problems.
Stresses and Worries
When our minds and bodies have a hard time relaxing it is often rooted in emotional and mental worries. I’m not going to address that aspect in this article. Hopefully you are doing your best to take care of your worries in life by talking to family, friends or a therapist, by practicing self-care such as quiet alone time, time in nature, artistic expression, movement/exercise, or a good massage. But sometimes we have no control over when our worries are going to go away. I know when my mother was suffering from cancer, when my marriage was in a hard place, and when my husband was unemployed, life was pretty stressful to say the least. I was in survival mode and felt like all I could do was wait it out. Self-care and talking to my loved ones didn’t take the stresses away.
That being said, a hot cup of tea can be a simple and accessible way to practice self- care in the midst of chaos, or worries. If you can take the time to stock up your pantry with some of the herbs and supplements I’ll discuss here, you might really appreciate it when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your troubles, or when your body just feels super tense, or when you simply don’t know what else to do with yourself.
Nervine/ Relaxing herbs
Some of the top calming and relaxing herbs include chamomile, lavender flower, passionflower, red raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, nettle, oatstraw, lemon balm, dandelion greens, and linden blossom. You can mix any combination of these herbs to promote relaxation. I will discuss more detailed preparation suggestions below.
Herbs and foods high in calcium help relax the muscles. Calcium is best assimilated while you sleep so if you choose to take a calcium supplement I suggest taking it at night. Also keep in mind that some of these herbs might make you feel sleepy. Some foods that are high in calcium are all seaweeds, but especially kelp and hijiki, dark greens, almonds, beans, carrot juice, beets, oats, fish and blackstrap molasses. Try to eat a few of those sources each day. To maintain the healthy ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium in the body I suggest that you take a calcium magnesium supplement (rather than just a calcium supplement). Additionally, many of the herbs listed above are high in calcium and aid in calcium absorption. These herbs are red raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, nettle, chamomile, dandelion, oatstraw, as well as alfalfa, and red clover. You can make a stronger infusion of any of those herbs, or add them to a basic cup of tea.
Basic Herbal Tea Ratio
The basic tea recipe is 1 Tbs. (which equals 3 tsp.) of herbs to 1 cup of boiling water. Allow steeping for 10-15 minutes. It is always best to cover the cup of tea while the herbs are steeping to preserve the healthy oils. Add honey or milk to taste. You can stock your pantry with many of the herbs I listed above and play around with combinations and find out what flavors you like best.
Relaxing tea recipe suggestions:
· 1 Tbs. chamomile, added to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes.
· Add 2 tsp. chamomile and 1 tsp. of lavender to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes.
· Combine 1 tsp. chamomile, 1 tsp. lemon balm and 1 tsp. lavender. Add 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.
Nutritional infusion recipe suggestion:
· Mix 2 part nettle, 2 part raspberry leaf, 1 part chamomile, 1 part oatstraw, ¼ part red clover. Put 1 oz of mixture into a mason jar and add 1 quart of boiling water. Cover and steep anywhere from 1-2 hours. Drink 1-4 cups daily.
See the recipe for “Calming Tea” for a version of tea that is both soothing to the nerves as well as aid in digestion. Aviva Jill Romm writes that you can even take Calming Tea during labor to help ease your contractions.