Lemon Balm The Calming Herb for Anxiety, Stress and Insomnia
When we're asked about anxiety and stress nearly all of us could raise our hand, as we can certainly relate in some way throughout our lives. Some people may experience moments of stressful or anxious periods and others struggle on a daily basis. Which often develops into having a negative impact on your own health, mental and physical wellbeing and intern effects the people around us.
Anxiety is on the rise affecting numerous people young and old from all walks of life. It is an overwhelming feeling that slowly become consuming in your everyday thoughts, actions and wellbeing. Sometimes you don't even know why you feel the way you do or what brought in on. Anxiety can effect your sleep, willingness to participate in group situations or try new things, avoiding social gatherings, making friendships, relationships, limiting your potential with a negative mindset, and increasing low self esteem.
Stress and Insomnia are more common than not, with most diagnoses resulting in stress being a contributor to sleep disruption and difficulties. Our overly busy lifestyles and work loads being a major factor, resulting in many of us suffering sleep deprivation and insomnia. Some admitting to having as little as 2-3 hours a night. We know that our bodies can not continue to work properly with little to no sleep which also contributes to more severe health issues.
There is no quick fix when it comes to anxiety and stress but with some lifestyle changes while may seem difficult at first, can be a positive step in the right direction. Here are some helpful suggestions.
1. Cutting out refined sugars, processed foods, and limiting alcohol consumption. Especially at night which may have effects on your blood sugar levels. Contributing to spikes and drops in energy and mood. And while drinking alcohol may have effects of tiredness and to some help fall asleep, studies have actually shown that it can interrupt your sleep cycles with many experiencing disrupted and shortened sleeping patterns.
2. Decreasing your work load where possible by assigning jobs and prioritise tasks. Make to do lists and check them off, this can be visually helpful to avoid overwhelming feelings by focusing on one job at a time. Simple yet effective.
3. Saying no to non essential commitments. You are allowed to say no to your friends sons birthday or cousins anniversary party if you are not up to it. Don't feel guilty saying no, it's your wellbeing that comes first.
4. Take time out for yourself and practice deep breathing. If mediation or yoga aren’t your thing than try finding something that makes you happy and calm and incorporate it into your life. Drawing, cooking, fishing are some examples of outlets and distractions for the mind.
5. Exercise outdoors. It might be a 20 minute walk, exercise class, swimming, pilates or yoga. The chemical released called endorphins when you exercise trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. There is no denying that a hit of vitamin E from the sun can give your mood an immediate lift too so try and get outdoors as much as you can even for a short time.
6. Journal writing. At the end of the day it helps to get your thoughts onto paper releasing built up anxiousness and tension from stressful moments or hardships you may have encountered throughout the day.
7. Writing down your gratitudes. Reinforces positive feelings of contentment and refocuses your thoughts on the good rather than the challenging.
8. Social interactions. Joining a social group that interests you or even as simple as a weekly a catch up or phone call with a friend. A friendly smile and a chat can do wonders.
9. Having a nightly sleep routine and setting a regular bedtime. 30 mins before bed start to wind down without electronics, dim lights, read, or listen to soft music and enjoy of cup of calming tea.
10. Remembering you are not alone. Reach out to friends, partners, parents, colleagues or professionals if things get too overwhelming. The stigma of mental health and reaching out for help is decreasing and people are becoming more open and aware of such issues especially in these current times.
Herbs are our natural medicine that mother nature has kindly gifted us. They have been used for centuries in treating everything from fevers, colds and flus, to pain and skin problems.
Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis with its’ strong lemon scent and mild pleasant lemon minty flavours it is known to help soothe a number of discomforts including anxiety, nervousness, stress, depression and insomnia. With its’ calming, mood boosting effects on the nervous system it is said to soothe and calm the feelings associated with anxiety and help cognitive functions. Studies have shown when given to children with hyperactivity and concentration problems there was a considerable improvement in their behaviours also.
Lemon Balm most commonly taken as a tea, but can also be taken as a liquid tincture or capsule supplement, in balms, lotions and essential oils (Melissa) . Lemon Balm has a mild natural sedative effect which also helps promote a good nights sleep. Traditionally used as a tonic remedy to raise the spirits and comforts the heart. Lemon Balm is fairly easy to buy or grow at home much like mint. Can be grown in a pot or in the ground leaving room to spread and flourish. You can use the fresh leaves in tea brewing or simply pick the leaves and dry them out, store them in airtight jar. Alternatively you can buy supplements or the essential oil (Melissa) to apply onto the skin or diffuse.
Side effects. Lemon Balm is mostly safe when taken by mouth. It is very mild and gentle enough for children yet effective enough for adults. If pregnant consult your doctor before taking anything new. Thyroid disease: There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy. Avoid lemon balm if you have thyroid disease. Diabetes. Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.
The mind is a powerful organ and incorporating any or all these natural tips and remedies can only enhance our mental health and wellbeing.
Sharing a simple tea recipe below.
Lemon Balm Tea
Infusion: 1-2 teaspoon(s) of dried lemon balm in 1 cup of hot water, infused for 10-15 minutes (drink 2-4 cups/day).
Child use half strength 1-2 cups/day
You can also add Peppermint leaves for a refreshing added flavour
The Apothecary Co. has blended and formulated an organic herbal tea blend called CALM. Blended with the intentions of supporting feelings of anxiety, nervousness, stress and depression. Supporting the nervous system by soothing tension and stress with its’ calming herbal properties. Lemon balm being a natural sedative and relaxant herb, chamomile and peppermint for body relaxation has similar effects and rose petals for opening and awakening the heart leaving you with a a sense of clearing in mind, calmness in body and uplifting in spirit.
DREAM is the sleep tea blend carefully formulated to assist your body in preparation for sleep. Make this part of your wind down routine after a busy day recommended an hour before bedtime, with help of a selection of calmative and sleep inducing herbs, gently relaxing your state of mind and body.
Note. All recipes and advice given should be used as a guide only. I do not claim to cure or heal or diagnose but assist in the wellness of your body. If you suffer any illness, serious health conditions or are pregnant you should take caution when making or using products for yourself. Seek medical advice if needed.