Everyone has feelings of anxiety and stress sometimes, but mental health is no joke – today is World Mental Health Day, so we have compiled this list of teas that may help to decrease the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, which often go hand in hand. These teas can be helpful but they are just one weapon in your arsenal against mental health problems. Also, don’t suffer alone! If you find that you are struggling, which everyone does from time to time, reach out to a trusted friend who you can share your feelings with, and seek help from your doctor – you wouldn’t ignore a broken leg, so don’t neglect your mental health either.
We all know that chamomile is a great bedtime tea that can promote a natural and restful sleep, but chamomile is a relaxing tea you can have any time you are feeling stressed or anxious. Chamomile can also help to aid indigestion, which can occur as a symptom of anxiety or stress. It contains GABA, a substance which targets the same receptors in the nervous system as prescribed anti-anxiety drugs. A 2016 study discovered that chamomile was safe to use, and significantly reduced moderate-to-severe symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. (source)
Valerian is a commonly used natural sleep aid and has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient Greek and Roman times. It appears to work in a similar way to chamomile, in that it targets GABA receptors in the brain. If you suffer from insomnia or often have trouble sleeping due to anxiety or stress, then valerian tea may be a good drink to enjoy before bed.Valerian could also help to soothe menstrual cramps as it can help to suppress muscle spasms.
Note: Valerian is unsuitable for those who already take anti-anxiety medications, and may not be suitable for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Many people drink peppermint tea after meals as a digestive aid, as it can help to ease indigestion, cramps and excess gas. Anxiety and stress can often have adverse effects on digestion, so peppermint tea is a great natural choice for relieving these symptoms. Peppermint has been used widely in traditional medicine to increase relaxation and improve mood and also appears to have natural muscle relaxing properties.
Lavender is well-known for its relaxing scent, and many people use lavender pillow sprays or add the oil into a diffuser to help with sleep. Bit you can also drink lavender tea – it has a subtle floral taste and is thought to be especially good for easing symptoms of PMS. Lavender is also thought to promote the production of dopamine in the brain and reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. A study in 2010 found that lavender was as effective as the common anti-anxiety drug lorazepam for treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder. (source)
Lemon Balm Tea
This fragrant herb has a pleasant, lemony taste (surprise!) and is often used as a food additive, and is used in natural remedies as a natural mood booster and stress reliever. Lemon balm would be a good choice for drinking during the day as it is also associated with improved brain function and memory. A 2011 study found that lemon balm appears to be effective for reducing anxiety and insomnia. (source)
Many people avoid caffeinated drinks if they have problems with stress, anxiety or insomnia, but green tea could have a mood-boosting effect without the caffeine jitters. All teas from the camellia sinensis plant contain a substance called l-theanine, which appears to bind to receptors in the brain and increase alpha wave activity, and produces a calming effect without sedation or drowsiness. This makes green tea a great option for the daytime, as it helps to promote calm alertness without making you feel sleepy.
Turmeric is commonly used as a seasoning for food, and is widely acknowledged in traditional Indian medicine or Ayurveda as an immune system booster and sleep aid. Turmeric contains high levels of circumin, a compound with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is also thought to be useful for anxiety and depression. A 2017 review noted that circumin extracted from turmeric appears to significantly reduce reported feelings of anxiety among participants in a study (source).
All of these teas can help to promote feelings of calm and relaxation, but mental health issues are complex and often require many different methods combined to be truly effective – as stated before, if you are suffering with mental health issues, always seek help from a medical professional. You can also access support online or over the phone – see https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ for some useful resources.