It feels rather redundant, almost cliché, to bring up how stressful these times are. Whether it’s the pandemic, elections and political polarization, or the many challenges of modern day life, it’s easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed.
For this article I want to keep it simple and focused by sharing some stress relief tips and teas.
It’s often the simple and little things that we do, day in and day out, that can have a big impact on feeding our happiness levels and decreasing our stress.
Stress often gets a bad reputation, but there’s a lot more nuance to stress than being simply bad or good. Short-term stress prepares your body for challenges that come its way. In this sense, stress can be a beneficial and important reaction. Long-term or pathological stress, however, has been shown to have multiple negative effects, including a decreased immune system response.
While it’s impossible to remove all stress from life, meditation, going on walks, and spending joyful time with family (whether in person or on video chats) are all examples of proactive things you can do to regulate the amount of stress in your life.
Take a short walk today and look for beauty in unexpected places. Whether you find a rainbow or an enchanting bug, take 15 seconds to bathe in the joy of beauty and connection. You might be wondering, can 15 seconds really make a difference? It can! In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, author Rick Hanson points out that cherishing joy and happiness, even for 15 seconds at a time, can create positive enforced neural pathways that lead to increased happiness.
Start a short meditation practice. Meditation has long been known to decrease stress levels and create a more grounded and present life. I’ve been using the Waking Up app (and have also enjoyed HeadSpace in the past) as a way to incorporate short but meaningful moments of presence in my life. The guidance in these programs makes meditation easy and attainable.
If you have the capacity to give back, then do. Giving, whether it’s small acts of kindness or donating volunteer hours, is a powerful way to lift your mood, create connection, and bring love and compassion to your community.
Herbs can be powerful friends when it comes to addressing stress in your life. My favorite way to work with herbs for stress is with tea. Not only are the herbs within the tea potent medicinals, the moments we take to savor and enjoy the tea (remember, even 15 seconds) is medicine within itself.
Here are three teas that I often turn to in times of stress.
A delicious and nutritious way to start the day! This blend combines the nourishing qualities of oatstraw with the yumminess of cinnamon and rose hips. Chock full of antioxidants and nutrients, this is a staple tea that can be enjoyed day after day.
• 1/3 cup (8 grams) dried oatstraw (Avena sativa)
• 2 teaspoons (6 grams) dried de-seeded rosehips (Rosa spp.)
•5 grams elderberries (Sambucus nigra, S. cerulea)
• 1 teaspoon (4 grams) cinnamon chips (or 1/2 cinnamon stick broken into pieces)
• 16 ounces of water.
Simmer the herbs in the water, covered, for 20 minutes.
Strain. Add honey if desired.
A delicious blend of calming and soothing herbs to add ease to your day.
• 1 Tablespoon dried oatstraw (Avena sativa)
• 2 teaspoons dried lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
• 1 teaspoon dried passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
• pinch of dried lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia)
Steep the herbs in 12 ounces of hot water, covered, for 10 minutes.
Strain. Add honey if desired.
A delicious and calming blend that is a wonderful way to relax and unwind.
• 1 Tablespoon dried red clover flowers (Trifolium pratense)
• 1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers (Matricaria chamomilla)
• 1/2 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves (Mentha x piperita)
Steep the herbs in 10 ounces of just-boiled water, covered, for 5 minutes.
Strain. Add honey or other sweetener if desired.
Before I sign off… Lately it feels like self-care has been co-opted by corporations wanting to sell you peace and calm through products. Ick!
I find that it’s truly the small and simple things I do in my daily life that have a big impact in how I feel.
If you are feeling stressed and anxious I encourage you to try one really ridiculously easy thing you can do right now to feel better, whether it’s a walk outside, a cuddle with a furry friend, a cup of tea or simply a few deep breaths. Then rinse and repeat as you’re able.
I know that deep breathing, or even an amazing cup of tea, won’t erase the challenges we are facing today. But they can help you build inner resilience, piece by piece.
Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and the Education Director for LearningHerbs. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.