A Naturopath's Guide to Overcoming Holiday Stress With Tea
The holidays are an exciting time filled with celebrations, but they can also trigger serious self-reflection. We've spent months with our heads down trying to weather the barrage of holiday deadlines, and now that the year is drawing to a close, those niggling feelings of stress and anxiety start to bubble to the surface. Did you achieve all that you'd hoped in 2016?
A staggering one in four Americans admit to feeling "extreme stress" during the holidays, according to the American Psychological Association. Whether it be about a chaotic schedule (69% say they buckle from a lack of time), financial issues, or the pressure of gift-giving (51% can relate), learning to address and quell stress and anxiety at this time of year is key.
Pina LoGiudice, a naturopathic doctor, co–medical director for Inner Source Health New York, and author of The Little Book of Natural Beauty, says there's a surprisingly effective natural way to combat holiday stress: drinking herbal tea. "Teas have been used medicinally for thousands of years, and Mother Nature has truly given us a wonderful and warm way to ingest our medicine," she tells MyDomaine. With the right brew and breathing ritual, one cup is all it takes to tackle the season ahead.
Feeling burned out? LoGiudice recommends licorice root tea to combat tiredness or fatigue. "Licorice is a wonderful root that helps our adrenal gland manage better. It gives that little boost to get your going," she explains. Licorice root teas have been traditionally used to calm an upset stomach or the common cold. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it's often used to relieve a sore throat.
Before you load up your Amazon cart with tea, LoGiudice warns that not all drinks are created equal. Iced tea might be popular, but it's likely also heavily sweetened. "Any tea that is loaded with sugar will give the buyer more a sugar high, then, unfortunately, a sugar crash even though it may have a small amount of a beneficial plant [like licorice root]," she says. "It's much better to make the tea at home, where you can monitor the amount of sugar or honey you put in the tea as well as infuse the tea for a stronger brew to truly get the desired effect."
Often likened to a natural form of Xanax, passionflower is believed to be effective for anxiety relief. "Passionflower can calm down our nervous system just like common medications do. If you're really stressed out and have a lot anxiety, I tell my patients to try passionflower tea," says LoGiudice.
It's a natural sedative, so is also effective in getting a good night's sleep—which can be particularly difficult for some during the holidays. A small study by the School of Psychology and Psychiatry at Monash University in Australia found that people who drank passionflower tea before bed reported a better quality of sleep after a week.
Calm Your Mind
Chamomile tea has been considered a natural cure-all for centuries, and for good reason—a 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports suggests this ancient herb is associated with a torrent of health benefits. "Chamomile has been used for centuries to relax the nervous system," says LoGiudice. "It doesn't work as a 'teatox,' but it does work wonders in relaxing your nervous and digestive systems so is a wonderful choice during the holidays."
To calm your mind in the office, she recommends a breathing ritual that encourages you to pause and focus inward. "I usually recommend for patients (and for myself!) to take three yoga belly breath prior to eating meals. It gets me grounded and out of the rush mode before eating." She explains that the benefits of mindfulness go beyond stress relief. "[It] enables my nervous system to switch from that fight or flight response to that rest and digest mode. This allows for better digestion and nutrient absorption."
Consider yourself a classic type A personality? LoGiudice says Eleutherococcus, also known as Siberian ginseng, is the perfect brew for you. "It's great for the person who's on the go, can't relax, gets very overwhelmed," she says in an article for Dr. Oz. "I usually recommend this at the start of the day because it will get you going." A study published in Stress and Health found that women had a 60% reduction in raised heart rate during times of stress when they took the herb.
The holidays can be a big time for emotional stress that can quickly leave you feeling overwhelmed. If you feel yourself slipping into this state, LoGiudice recommends reaching for Heart Tea, it comes from the rose family and has been studied for its cardiovascular effects. This is great when you're under emotional stress," she says. Studies suggest this active ingredient lessens the resistance of blood flow in your body, therefore lowering blood pressure and tension.
LoGuidice says that unlike passionflower tea, you can sip on tea at any time of day. It won't make you drowsy and has a pleasant berry taste.