My kettle has earned a permanent place on my stove after discovering hot tea is my go-to anxiety reliever this fall. Our world's weight feels heavier than ever right now — but wrapping my hands around a hot cup of tea, wafting the aroma, and taking soft sips helps me fight off unwelcome stress headaches.
And after a tip from Maggie Michalczyk, RD, that cup is usually filled to the brim with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea ($10). While the pumpkin flavor provides an uplifting seasonal feel, she explains that the rooibos plant is believed to help block stress hormone production. Plus, the formula offers lots of beneficial antioxidants and is caffeine-free.
But if pumpkin isn't your thing, you're not out of luck. Michalczyk says that tea, in general, can be relaxing, as it's warming and can contain different compounds like L-theanine and EGCG, which are both known to promote calmness.
Even the smell of some teas, like chamomile and peppermint, can start to put us in a calmer state, she adds — which is partially why those top her list of most-relaxing flavors.
"Chamomile tea is a great calming tea because it brings about a soothing effect and contains mildly sedative properties, helping us chill out and unwind for bed," Michalczyk says.
"Peppermint tea is known for its stomach-soothing properties, which can help ease mild digestive issues, helping us feel calmer overall."
Lavender is another one of Michalczyk's favorites, as it's known to help boost sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and even ease menstrual cramps.
And if you can get a hold of valerian root tea, too, it may be worth a try. Michalczyk notes that the plant is thought to help ease anxiety symptoms and promote calmness.
When shopping for calming teas, her only two rules are avoiding brands with added sugars, like tea concentrate, and opting for caffeine-free options to help prevent jitters and anxiety.
Pure and unprocessed honey is best for sweetening your cup if needed — and then take a whiff, enjoy your sip, and really focus on relaxing.