Sometimes the nicest way to come down from a stressful day is a hot cup of herbal tea. Sitting quietly with a warm mug, and maybe lighting a candle or two, makes it easy to pause, organize your thoughts, and settle your mind for sleep.
Usually, a nice cup of chamomile is all I need to completely relax (by the end of the cup, I’m falling asleep right where I’m sitting), but sometimes a stronger effort is needed. When my mind is particularly busy, my muscles are aching, or I’m just generally feeling out of sorts, I step up my evening tea blend by adding a few other calming herbs to the mix.
Here is my secret (but obviously not so secret) and most reliable blend to wind down and get a good night’s sleep:
Catnip or Lemon Balm
Chamomile is a wonderfully soothing herb that promotes a general sense of calm and ease. It can also quiet an upset stomach (I’m looking at you, people who just ate an unacceptably huge bowl of pasta for dinner and did not hesitate to chase it with a chocolate bar).
Passionflower helps to quiet the mind, ease minor anxiety, and slow those revolving, nagging thoughts (I have to find that paperwork tomorrow! What did Linda mean when she said my ankles looked different? Maybe I’ll start a subsistence farm in Argentina, yeah, that’s how I’m going to really get my life started!! Ankles paperwork Argentina ankles ankles ankles…)
I use catnip when I primarily need to calm down and stop caring so much. It’s a very chillaxing, soothing herb. I add lemon balm when I need to chill out and need a bit of a mood boost – it’s legendary for bringing on a better state of mind.
Lavender is a matter of taste – some people love it, others can’t stand it! I find it very calming. I add it when I want to feel kind of fancy/pretend I’m in the French countryside, with like little white ducks roaming around and ornate wrought iron garden tables and grapes growing everywhere and stuff.
Skullcap is a very relaxing nervine that is also useful for pain relief. I like to add it in when I’m feeling a little irritable from a headache or tight muscles.
Hops or milky oats would be a nice addition as well – I would use these in cases where there is a feeling of being so overtired that your nerves are completely frayed and you feel like you need a long, deep sleep or your heart is just GOING TO STOP BEATING.
Mix about a teaspoon of each herb together in a bowl (you can skip this step of course…I just happen to have a really beautiful bowl and it feels special to mix the herbs in it).
Add the herbs to your infuser/mug, cover with boiling water and let steep for at least 15 minutes.
It might seem a little silly to give actual instructions for making a cup of tea, but hear me out.
Most tea packets or bags contain a small about of herb and will tell you to steep for 5-10 minutes. While this is great if you just want a tasty drink, you won’t get the full benefit of the medicine in the herbs.
I like to use at least a tablespoon of herbs to a mug (a whole big handful to a pot!), and I let it sit at least 20-30 minutes. Depending on the herb and what I need it for, I may let it sit an hour or four.
After you’ve let your infusion steep and cool down a bit, strain the herbs, head to the couch or your favorite chair, wrap your hands around the warm mug, and let yourself relax!