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Anxiety is never fun. A lot of people might think that you're "nervous," but anyone with anxiety knows it is so much more than that. Your heart is pounding, thoughts are racing through your head, and you can't focus on anything but trying to get through your day without completely breaking down. What's worse is when that anxiety crawls into your bed with you and prevents you from sleeping. You lie in bed just begging and pleading to finally make it stop so you can get some rest. For me, when I try to go to sleep, thoughts of what went wrong that day start playing in my head like a review of a bad performance in a movie. Then I started having anxiety over the fact that I haven't fallen asleep yet, only keeping me more awake, and the cycle perpetuates itself all night long. It's insufferable.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety, my therapist recommended I start drinking tea. I was pretty skeptical, admittedly. Sure, I liked to have a cup of tea after dinner now and then to settle my stomach, but taking it for my anxiety and restless sleep? It was too easy of a solution. There are thousands of different kinds of teas out there, so finding the right ones was not an easy journey. After years of trying different kinds though, I've truly found the best teas for anxiety and insomnia that are out there right now. As always, tea is not a cure-all for any mental health disorder and if you believe you are struggling with one, consider paying a doctor a visit. These teas, however, are a great supplement for when something in life has thrown you into a panic state or you can't sleep and need something to calm you down.
Chamomile tea, or camomile, is the be-all-end-all tea for sleep. It's been used for centuries to help stave off stress, anxiety, upset stomachs, and is a natural remedy for insomnia. It's actually a mild tranquilizer because the chamomile flower relaxes your muscles and nervous system. During a panic attack, your nervous system is going crazy, and this tea can help calm it down a bit so you don't feel like you're about to die anymore.
One of the most common suggestions for insomnia is to just "relax all your muscles," but if you have anxiety, this can be extremely difficult to do. Chamomile does this for you. I like the Twinings brand specifically because the tea has a subtle, floral flavor that relaxes me. They also have a chamomile tea that has honey and vanilla added to it if you want a sweeter taste, but I find that distracting if I'm using this for sleep.
If you don't know what kava is, you're not alone. While researching for teas for anxiety and insomnia, I was confused when I came across kava tea. Apparently, this root has been used by Polynesian cultures for centuries to calm the mind, soul, and body. The tea made from kava-kava root is one of the most well-researched teas when it comes to reducing anxiety symptoms; it's just a bit hard to come by because it can be very strong.
The bags by Yogi are good for bringing you down from a panic attack before it gets really bad because of its sedative effect but aren't so strong that you'll be incapacitated. It's suggested to mix kava tea with coconut milk, as the fat in the milk will draw out the kavalactones, which are the things in kava tea that actually calm you down. I haven't had it yet, but I'm convinced that I need this tea for my really bad days after hearing about how strong it is. People who have used kava tea have cited that it's similar to being high on cannabis because it makes you euphoric.
Pregnant women and people with liver problems should not drink kava tea though, because it directly affects the chemicals in your liver. With that said, you should also have figured out that you shouldn't take this with any alcohol or medications that affect your liver either. And since it induces a cannabis-like effect, don't start drinking this in the middle of your workday either. I'm telling you, this is strong stuff if you take it pure. But kava is is completely safe, natural, and non-addictive, so strongly consider brewing yourself some if you feel a panic attack coming on.
If you are pregnant or have liver problems but are still interested in the effects that kava tea provides, the next best thing is passionflower tea. It has the same benefits as kava tea without the risks, although you might need to make a stronger cup. Passionflower has been proven to relax the body, making for a perfect way to wind down and reduce stress after a long day.
Many people swear by passionflower tea, and Alvita's has a particularly smoky flavor, which isn't easy to chug like some plainer passionflower teas. You have to drink it slowly or else that flavor can be overwhelming. This is perfect for me because by focusing on drinking it slowly, I relax in a natural way and soon find myself much less anxious than before.
Decaf Green Tea
Obviously, if you're looking for teas for anxiety and insomnia, you don't want anything with caffeine in it. Green tea has so many benefits, and one of them is helping to relax you. Green tea is a great option for those who really don't like the "herbal-y" taste of certain teas and like something a little plainer.
Personally, I brew a cup of decaf green tea, give it a spoonful of raw honey, and then drink that every single night to decompress, whether I'm feeling particularly anxious or not. Bigelow is my go-to since it's pretty cheap and is available pretty much everywhere, which is convenient since I drink a whole lot of it. Drinking a cup is like a form of everyday self-care to me.
Valerian Root Tea
Valerian isn't typically associated with helping people with anxiety, but it definitely helps with insomnia. The root of this potent flower has calming properties that can help the physical symptoms of anxiety though, which can sometimes be worse than the racing thoughts themselves. Valerian root is known to make people extra drowsy, so it's best to have it right before bed, and don't take it if you plan driving anytime soon.
However, the drowsiness will prevent your mind from wandering to any anxious thoughts, helping your mind as well as your body to finally fall asleep. Buddha Teas is an earth-friendly brand and their valerian tea is made with only organic valerian root, so you know you're getting pure tea. I'm definitely going to make a cup of this the next time I find myself tossing and turning because I just can't get comfortable in bed.
If you're anything like me, being anxious makes you really, really tense. This can especially be true if you're trying to hold back a panic attack, and you store all the energy coming from it in your muscles. Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxer, so it's one of the default teas for anxiety and insomnia if you just can't seem to release the tension you're holding in your body. This tea is also very aromatic, so if you're a person that responds positively to smells, it's a great choice.
I think Stash's peppermint tea has one of the best and most potent scents, and smelling it slowly is a way to get me to breathe deeply and help an anxiety attack pass. I also tend to get nausea directly from my anxiety, and mint is known as one of the best remedies for feeling nauseous; it's why many restaurants give away peppermints as you're leaving so you don't get a stomachache and never go back.
Lemon Balm Tea
Related to mint, but with a zestier lemon flavor layered on top, I also recommend lemon balm tea if you're having trouble with insomnia. Like chamomile, people have been relying on this herb for centuries to help them fall asleep. It reacts with the GABA receptors in your brain, which are a key receptor in your central nervous system. Lemon balm activates these receptors, reduces stress, and induces sleep.
Traditional Medicinals is certified to be non-GMO, organic, and is created by actual herbalists, so it's one of the best quality lemon balm teas that I've come across. Of all the people I should be trusting with my teas, herbalists are the best of the best, so I'm picking this one up when I'm craving a lemony flavor but still want some sleep assistance.
Sorry, I am going to make you make your own tea for this one, but I promise it's worth it. Rose tea really isn't sold in convenient baggies like a lot of other herbal teas for anxiety and insomnia, so your best bet is to get a bag of rosebuds and brew it yourself. It's really easy to make so you don't have to worry about messing it up. Just add a few of the buds to boiling water and let them steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea.
Rose tea eases my mind and helps to stop those racing thoughts that keep me up late into the night. If you end up brewing it too long though, it can taste a little "flowery," which not everyone likes. I suggest adding a small spoonful of raw honey to make it a bit sweeter. Just don't add sugar! Sugar will keep you awake and completely ruin the point of drinking rose tea.
Lavender is my favorite smell in the entire world, so it's no wonder that I love lavender tea. It just so happens to be that lavender tea is perfect for helping you sleep and stopping racing thoughts! Smelling lavender or drinking lavender tea before bed has been shown to keep people in the deep sleep phase longer, which is the phase that makes you feel really well rested in the morning.
It also decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, which as anyone with anxiety knows, can get out of control during a panic attack. Both of these also need to be lowered enough in order for you to fall asleep. I have to go with the Buddha Teas brand again on this one since it's just organic lavender flower without any other herbs. A lot of people mix lavender and chamomile together, which might work for you, but I prefer lavender in its purest form.
Chances are you've heard of Celestial's famous Sleepytime tea. It deserves all the hype it gets though; it's straight up one of the best teas for anxiety and insomnia. Even my mom swears by this tea, and she can be really picky about her teas. Sleepytime tea has a blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn, and rosebuds. All of these packaged together in one bag makes for a yummy, soothing tea that is perfect to have right before bed. I recommend making a cup, sitting on the couch, and just drinking in low light and silence. No TV or anything. Just let the tea relax you. Soon enough you'll be so tired you won't even be able to think about your anxiety, just how inviting your bed is.
If you're feeling up to it, you could learn how to blend teas yourself and make a more personalized blend out of the kinds of teas I mentioned earlier. You have to find the right tea for you because everyone's tastes (and anxieties) are different. Tea is not a miracle worker, but it can definitely help you on your journey to overcoming the struggles associated with your mental health.