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Wednesday, 23 May 2018 09:52

A Tea for Every Mood

Tea is a warm, refreshing beverage that's been enjoyed for hundreds of years. There's a positive feeling that arises when you think of "tea time" or reading a book with a warm cup in your hand. Tea is commonly associated with sensations of relaxation and satisfaction, too, but why is that?

Some people enjoy the flavor of tea, and the warm, earthy aroma produced by different blends. While that's one reason to drink tea, this ancient beverage has actually been shown to have a positive influence on our mood. We're aware of the effects that the caffeine present in tea can have on our energy levels, but there's so much more to it than that.

Depending on how you feel, tea has the potential to give you just the mood boost you're looking for. If you're searching for a natural way to positively influence your mood, it may be as close as your tea cabinet.

What Tea to Drink Based on Mood

How can there be a tea for every mood? Tea is made by drying and crushing tea leaves and other herbs and then infusing them in boiling water. Tisanes, or herbal infusions, are now commonly referred to under the general term "tea." These plants and herbs are filled with vitamins, antioxidants and other trace minerals that have healthful benefits for the body.

Many use tea to help with health issues. Maybe its the healthy blend of antioxidants and vitamin C that give our immune system that added oomph. However, if it's your emotional health your concerned about, different tea blends may be just what you need to energize, de-stress, improve productivity or even get a restful night's sleep. Here are some recommendations for the best teas to help with different moods.

Teas for De-Stressing

If you're constantly on the go, striving to manage your job, family, bills and a social life, chances are you've experienced stress. If all this is starting to fray your nerves, then it may be time to try enjoying a daily tea time. Not only is a tea ritual a relaxing process, but the effects produced by these brews will help you face the rest of your day with cool, calm confidence. Here are some teas that will help you relax and de-stress:

  • Lavender: The aroma has a sedative effect that soothes and calms nerves.
  • Passionflower: Boosts brain chemicals that produce a calming effect.
  • Ginseng: If stress is making you exhausted, this tea helps counteract that.
  • Lemon Balm: Its terpenes create a relaxing effect.
  • Peppermint: This contains menthol which combats mental stress.

Teas for Energizing

Don't just flip on the coffee-maker in the morning. Teas can be a healthier method for waking up and feeling energized. Plus, they don't produce that jittery side effect in most people. Here are some teas if you're looking for an added boost of energy:

  • Green Tea: Small amounts of caffeine give you a boost of energy without the jitters.
  • Earl Gray and Breakfast Blends: These black teas contain a healthy dose of caffeine, but still far less than that found in coffee.
  • Yerba Matte: High levels of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals give this tea its energetic effects.
  • Chai: This spicy blend will perk up your entire system with black tea and a blend of spices to get your blood flowing.

Teas for Sleeping

After an active day, you may need help winding down. There's a tea for that — or rather, there are several types of teas that can help you call it a night:

  • Chamomile: For centuries, this has been the sleepy-time tea because of its ability to settle your mind and body so you can drift into a blissful sleep.
  • Valerian Tea: Although it has a slightly bitter taste, it's known for improving a sense of well-being and relaxation.
  • Rooibos: This infused blend is the ideal nightcap as it produces total body relaxation.

Teas for Productivity

If you're feeling a bit sluggish, you may need something to get those mental wheels turning. New studies indicate that certain teas aid cognitive function, allowing you to feel more alert. A cup of tea may be just what you need to improve your work performance. Blends that can assist with that include:

  • Green Tea: Green tea contains polyphenols which are known to regulate learning and memory.
  • Black Tea: Black tea can help improve concentration, raise alertness and increase attention span so that you can focus on mental tasks.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint promotes energy and focus without the use of caffeine.

Teas for Happiness and Emotional Wellness

If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, there might be a way to improve your mood. Certain teas positively influence the brain and assist with emotional wellness. They include:

  • Saffron: This releases serotonin, a brain chemical known to produce feelings of positivity and happiness.
  • Tumeric: It not only influences serotonin but also the release of dopamine, giving a double dose of happy feelings.
  • Rooibos: This herbal infusion has natural mood-boosting properties.

Not only are teas easily accessible, but they also help keep you hydrated — another way to improve your overall health. So, give yourself a break and make a regular tea time part of your busy day. With all these mood-boosting benefits, it's no wonder that so many people reach for the tea pot in the morning and throughout the day.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 09 May 2018 18:54

How Does Sleep Affect Your Mental Health?

We all know that sleep is vital. Our body gives us many clues and warnings that it's feeling the effects of exhaustion, ranging from chronic yawning to heavy eyes that slip closed while you're watching the late night news. A lack of sleep does more than just make us grumpy, though. If we're not getting enough sleep, there are physical and even mental ramifications.

There are many reasons why people miss out on sleep. Maybe you've got an important project due at work, and you're burning the midnight oil to get it done. Maybe you're a night owl who finds that night time is ideal for spending time with friends or focusing on your hobbies. However, for many, lack of sleep is caused by sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Whatever the reason, after a while, those missed hours of sleep begin to take a toll. Poor sleep habits have been linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and weight gain. Sleep also plays a role in immune health, so those not catching enough Z's tend to get sick easier.

More than that, though, when we don't have enough sleep, it begins to affect our mental health. Problems sleeping affects tens of millions of Americans. Sleep is not just wasted hours you could spend doing something else. It may be the most important thing you do all day.

What Happens in Your Brain While You Sleep?

While you're sleeping, your brain is busy. Almost your entire brain actively participates in the process of sleeping and dreaming. Studies show that essential biological processes are occuring during this time. Our sleep consists of several cycles, and each is tied to specific brain waves and neurons firing making different brain connections.

When you don't have enough sleep, it can impair brain function in several ways:

  • Pathways in your brain can't be formed or maintained.
  • Your hippocampus has a more difficult time creating new memories or memorizing information.
  • You might have more difficulty concentrating or responding quickly.
  • The connection between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex is disrupted, leading to greater stress and anger.
  • Areas of the brain that moderate risk-taking behaviors are affected.

How Important Is Sleep to Mental Health?

As our understanding increases of what happens to our brain while we're sleeping, it shows us how vitally important these hours of restfulness are. With the rise of sleep disorders throughout the country, there's also been an increase in the occurrence of mental health conditions.

For years, experts believed that sleep disruptions were just a symptom of these conditions. However, research now suggests that lack of sleep can contribute to or even cause a variety of mental health conditions.

Common Mental Health Problems Related to Lack of Sleep

Because of how busy our brain is during the sleep process, it's no wonder that many common mental health problems can arise due to a lack of sleep. Sleep disorders lead to feelings of drowsiness during the day, apathy, inability to concentrate and can even cause nightmares during the nighttime hours.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that there is definitely a connection between sleeping problems and mental health. Here are some of psychological symptoms and conditions that are tied to difficulties sleeping:

  • Irritability and anger
  • Heightened emotions
  • Memory issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and other associated disorders like panic, OCD and phobias
  • ADHD

Getting Quality Sleep

Many people who experience insomnia or difficulties sleeping turn to prescription sleep aids. Although these are sometimes a short-term solution, they often lose their effectiveness over time. You should speak to a healthcare professional to see if there is a better option or an underlying issue that needs to be treated.

Many people who experience insomnia or difficulties sleeping turn to prescription sleep aids. Although these are sometimes a short-term solution, they often lose their effectiveness over time. You should speak to a healthcare professional to see if there is a better option or an underlying issue that needs to be treated.

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends. Consistency is something your body craves.
  • Avoid food, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol right before bedtime.
  • Put away your electronic devices an hour before you go to sleep. These emit a blue light that makes falling asleep more difficult.
  • Exercise earlier in the day, but not right before bedtime. Light exercise, like walking or stretching, is okay for relaxation purposes.
  • Make your bedroom your sleeping space, so your brain associates it with restfulness.

Sleep is essential to positive mental health. Taking active steps to improve the quality of your sleep will also improve your overall outlook and give you a better quality of life.

Published in Brookhaven Blog