Lockdown may be easing but Covid fear still remains for many of us.
Editor Jane Garton seeks out some soothing remedies to help restore a sense of calm.
At last we are coming out of lockdown. The shops are open, we can meet small groups of friends and family outdoors, and some children have the opportunity to go back to school. But despite this easing of restrictions Covid angst and fear still remain very real for many people.
If this sounds familiar, read on for some herbal remedies that may help you get out into the world again with a smile on your face.
If you’ve spent the last few months isolated from friends and family fearing for your and their health, it’s not surprising you may feel less than sunny. The secret is to address your feelings before they start to swamp you. It can help to share and talk things through with a positive-thinking friend. – a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s also important to be kind to yourself as well as grateful that you have come through the crisis fit and well.
Try: St John’s wort
Often called the sunshine herb, St John’s Wort is the number one remedy for lifting mood. Its active ingredient hypericin is known to help boost serotonin – the body’s natural feel-good hormone.
It’s been well documented in the press and social media that many of us have experienced restless nights, bad dreams and trouble getting to and staying asleep during lockdown. Given the circumstances this is not surprising as anxiety and worry about what the present and the future may hold are well known for getting in the way of a good night’s slumber.
As ever, establishing a good sleep routine is vital. This means trying to get up and go to bed at the same time each day, keeping electronics out of the bedroom and winding down with a relaxing routine before turning in. A healthy balanced diet also helps promote a good night’s rest. Watch your intake of alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day, as both can disrupt the quantity and quality of sleep.
Well known for its gentle soothing properties, the small golden buds of the camomile flower, contain tryptophan, an amino acid renowned for its sedative effects. Drink as a calming tea before bedtime or put a few drops of the essential oil onto your pillow. A sprig of lavender or a few drops of its oil can have a similar effect.
Anxiety can be overwhelming at the best of times but never more so than at the moment. We may have come through the worst of the pandemic but it’s not over yet. Worries about job security, children going back to school or not, financial problems, a possible second wave in the autumn and more are rife. If not addressed these worries can lead to problems such as fatigue and burn out, and, if prolonged, high blood pressure, headaches and low immunity. Take as much control as you can. There are government schemes to help with rent or mortgage payments and financial support for businesses, so do some research and plan ahead as much as possible.
Remember the positive impact of gentle exercise. Even a short walk in the fresh air can help while the relaxing moves of yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi can help instil a sense of calm. Finally, take steps to reduce your own risk. Keep to social distancing, wear a mask in shops and on public transport and keep up to date with government advice.
Extracts of valerian root contain natural plant compounds known as iridoids that have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help to quell anxiety. Look out for valerian combined with other herbs such as lemon balm and hops, both renowned for their calming properties.