Anxiety affects many people young and old. It is more than just worrying about your financially situation, stressed about work or not wanting to go to school. It is an overwhelming feeling that slowly eats away in you consuming your everyday thoughts, actions and wellbeing. Anxiety effects your sleep, willingness to participate in group situations, avoiding social gatherings, making friendships, relationships, limiting your potential with a negative mindset, and increasing low self esteem.
Not that long ago anxiety wasn’t even spoken about, it was often misread as soft, naughty or defiant behaviours, dramatic or unsociable. Luckily nowadays there is so much more knowledge on the subject and the stigma has somewhat changed as we continue to learn more and more about mental health. Not just limited to adults the amount of children living with anxiety seems to be increasing each year.
My middle son has anxiety it got to a point he didn’t want to go to school anymore. He would get into a state of shaking, tears and tantrums, there were many days I would sit in the car with him for hours trying to get him to the classroom trying not to show the sadness and tears. He was 7 at the time. Suddenly was scared of all group activities, stopped group sports avoiding any situations that made him feel out of his comfort zone. He couldn’t sleep alone, had nightmares and overall it was really taking over his everyday life and ours in a negative way. He wasn’t being bullied and had heaps of supporting friends. It took us a while to realise he was living with anxiety that had been triggered. Most of the time there isn’t a certain situation you can pinpoint to link it or a dramatic event in children especially when you ask them most of the time they don’t know why they are feeling the way they do. This was certainly the case for our son. Though there is somethings we did find that escalated his anxiety so we worked through them together. Making a daily journal pointing out three happy things that happened in the day to focus on the good in each day. Read some children’s books on the subject to help him understand his feelings. Most importantly reassuring there wasn’t anything wrong with him and that it is perfectly normal to have an overwhelming sense of emotions we just need to know how to can control them. Normalising anxiety is one of the first thing we learnt.
2 years later, he has improved immensely learning to identify when he feels anxious, we know he deals with it in his own way before it escalates. With some help from the school councillors and teachers, research of techniques and tips, diffusing essential oils, listening to meditation apps and calming bedtime audios at night, they have all helped him slowly step by step return to things that most people found easy to do. With a little help, encouragement and understanding anxiety can be controlled it takes awareness, patience, persistence and of course time.
There is some great blogs, books and online resources that can help you and your children understand anxiety better and techniques on how to live with it without it controlling your life. I’ll list some links below that I found helpful.
Useful Techniques– Coping Skills for Kids With Anxiety
Wellbeing & Affirmation Cards– Happy Little People
Further Reading– Mental Health Resources
Stress and Insomnia are more common than not these days, with most diagnoses resulting in stress being a major contributor. Our overly busy lifestyles and work loads being a major factor resulting in many people suffering sleep deprivation and insomnia, with some people 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 but somehow we let it be as if that it is the acceptable way of life now and fitting as much into a day is more productive and successful.
There is no quick fix when it comes to stress, but with some lifestyle changes while may seem difficult at first can be a great first step. Maybe take a closer look at your diet cutting out refined sugars and processed foods, decreasing your work load where possible, saying no to non essential commitments more, take time out for yourself, if mediation or yoga aren’t your thing than try finding something that makes you happy and calm and incorporate it into your life. It might be a 20 minute walk alone, exercise class, journal writing at the end of the day, joining a choir or social group that interests you or even as simple as a weekly a catch up with a friend, these are all great starts to making time for your mental wellness.
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 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. 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.
We have now introduced Lemon Balm Tea as part of my sons routine, he loves it and calls it in his words his tea of enlightenment. He will have some while doing his homework after school or before bedtime. The mind is a powerful organ and incorporating all these natural tips and remedies can only enhance our mental health and wellbeing.
Sharing a few simple tea recipes below.
Note. I am not a doctor or qualified professional. All recipes and advice given is from personal experience and should be used as a guide only. I do not claim to cure or heal but assist in the wellness of your body. If you suffer any illness, restrictions or are pregnant you should take that into consideration when making or using products for yourself that it is suitable for your needs. Seek medical advice if needed.
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).
Children Dose = 1-2 cups per/day
You can also add Peppermint leaves for a refreshing added flavour
Anxiety and Stress Soothing Tea
2 parts Lemon Balm leaves dried
1 part Chamomile flowers dried
1 part Peppermint Leaves Dried
1 part Linden leaves Dried
1 part Passionflower Leaves Dried
1 part Rose Hips or Rose petals dried
0.5 part Marshmallow root Dried
All amounts are in parts, so make as much or as little as you’d like (for example if you use 2 tablespoon Lemon Balm, use 1 tablespoon rose hips, and 1/2 tablespoon marshmallow leaves). Blend all dried herbs together and store in a plastic bag or glass jar/tin in your pantry. If you don’t have all the ingredients that’s ok it will still be beneficial to you.
Infusion: 1-2 tablespoon(s) of mixed herbs in a pot of hot water, infused for 10-15 minutes using a tea strainer strain the herbs and drink as you please hot or cold. ADULTS =drink 2-4 cups/day CHILDREN- 1-2 cups per day.
Chamomile a soothing relaxing sleep herb accompanied with Linden and passionflower other herbs used for anxiety. Rose opens the heart and enhances mood, while marshmallow root aids digestion and inflammation in the respiratory tract and helps produce mucus to line the stomach.