While we’re becoming used to living with COVID-19, the pandemic has impacted the mental health and wellbeing of millions of people around the world.
In the UK, according to a Nuffield Health report, around 80% of people say the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. They also report growing levels of anxiety, depression and stress. As we all move out of lockdown into the ‘new normal’, these issues will continue to take their toll.
Anxiety is a by-product of what Professor Simon Wessely from King’s College, London calls “the wicked nature of a pandemic”. It’s impossible for people to deal with the profound and sudden changes to lifestyle, work and society that have occurred in the first half of 2020 without an increase in anxiety.
There have been many studies already looking at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of the nation. Results show that while people are concerned about catching the virus itself, they’re more anxious about work, money, childcare and the long-term implications of COVID-19.
Self-care is more important than ever in challenging times, and as well as good nutrition, exercise and plenty of sleep, supplements can help. Herbal tea is an easy way to ingest specific properties that can help to lessen stress and encourage a calm mindset. Herbal teas are not categorised as medication or supplements and may interact with them. Always check with your doctor before adding herbs into your diet.
Mint is well known for its cooling properties and most people enjoy it as a flavouring. However, while mint tea itself hasn’t undergone any rigorous scientific testing to discover whether it can help anxiety, its properties have.
Mint contains menthone, limonene and menthol, all of which combine to give it the cooling aroma and flavour. There is much evidence to show that it can help digestive issues, ranging from nausea to indigestion. And there are also studies that support mint helping fatigue, frustration and anxiety.
A common side effect of prolonged anxiety and stress is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). A dedicated study shows that mint oil in the form of a capsule e when stressed and anxious, and in a study of peppermint oil, scientists found that it reduced IBS symptoms by 40%. .
Chamomile tea well known for its relaxing properties and is often consumed by people hoping to feel calmer and sleep better. And there is scientific evidence that supports these claims. A 2016 study shows that chamomile ingested over a long period of time can substantially reduce generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). However it has no effect on whether symptoms return, so it’s a good way to alleviate stress in the moment.
Lavender is known for its fragrant aroma and its sleep-inducing properties. But studies also show that it could have a significant effect on anxiety. A study from 2010 demonstrated that lavender oil in capsule form appear to be as affective as a benzodiazepine to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Valerian is commonly used to tackle insomnia caused by anxiety. There are mixed scientific results as to whether this is the case, with a 2015 study supporting it. The study showed that valerian helped women relax while undergoing a medical procedure.
Lemon balm has a lovely minty lemon flavour and aroma, and is often used to treat anxiety, insomnia and depression. Scientists think it works by boosting the neurotransmitters in the brain that combat stress. A 2018 study showed that lemon balm can reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia in people suffering from angina, which is a heart condition.
In any supermarket or health food store you’ll see thousands of herbal teas, including lots of blends. It’s worth trying different kinds to see whether they can help if you’re suffering from anxiety or insomnia. Whether you choose to brew your own, stick to one herb or go for a mixture, it’s worth trying herbal tea to supplement your daily diet.
However, always check with your doctor if you’re on any supplements or medication, as some herbal teas can interfere with them. It’s also worth looking at the side effects and suggested intake for herbal teas, as some can cause issues if taken in large quantities.