Relaxing Tea Remedies to Brew Before Bed

relaxing tea remedies to brew before bed
Picture Credit: Tom Godber

At the end of most days, I tend to feel a little wired. The ping of my Pixel 2, emails on emails on emails, and the latest Drag Race meme all tend to keep my mind buzzing regardless of my body aching for horizontal relief.

To achieve that shuteye, I include a few different practices into my nighttime routine to calm my mind. One of the most effective relaxation remedies I do regularly is sip on a cup of herbal tea. The steam, boiling water, and kettle hiss make brewing a tranquil ritual itself, and the resulting beverage can really help you unwind.

Various types of teas have sleepy and relaxing effects. I suggest testing out a few of the teas below on different nights and seeing how each one impacts your sleep.

Valerian Root

Valerian has been used to treat various ailments for centuries, and recent studies show that this herb can help improve sleep quality and make you fall asleep faster. It also reduces anxiety in some, making this a solid option for me.

The taste of Valerian alone is pretty earthy, so combine it with an additional tea flavor or squeeze some lemon in it if it’s not to your liking.

Catnip

Your kitty may already be obsessed with this herb, but did you know that catnip is safe for human consumption as well? The leaves, flowers, and roots of catnip have been used extensively to treat different medical problems. Cats can display a variety of reactions to catnip, but the plant tends to make humans feel calm.

If you’re considering trying a cup of minty catnip tea to aid your sleep, be sure to brew the leaves or flowers only. The roots of catnip can have stimulating effects.

Try this pouch of Dried Catnip Leaf by Wild Foods that both you and your cat can enjoy!

Chamomile

Dried chamomile flowers brewing in hot water may aid a multitude of medical problems, including insomnia. A specific flavonoid called apigenin acts on the benzodiazepine receptors in your brain, causing you to feel woozy and ready to hit the pillow shortly after consuming a cup.

You can also use chamomile essential oil for aromatherapy. Try Roman Chamomile Essential Oil Ultra-Premium 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade By Avíanō Botanicals

Decaffeinated Green Tea

I’m sure you already know that green tea has a multitude of health benefits, but regular green tea might keep you awake because of the caffeine. Thank goodness for decaf!

Green tea, even the decaffeinated variation, contains l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. Stick to sipping a decaf cup of this old favorite for improved sleep and other benefits.

Sleepy Time Variations

Not sure which tea to try first? Consider trying a mix of herbs in a tea intended for sleep, often called sleepy-time tea. Many brands offer pre-made mixes intended for resting. Here are a few options:

         

What’s your favorite tea to drink before going to bed? Share in the comments and I’ll consider adding your suggestions to this article!

Reasons to Have Your Next Deep Conversation in a Car

self care season deep conversation car
Photo Credit: Vladimir Fedotov

Moments like spilling feelings to a crush, coming out to my parents, and revealing hard news to a friend all occurred in moving vehicles. I bet you’ve had some heart-to-hearts on the road too.

Some of the more serious conversations of my life have happened in cars. Just this morning a friend asked if he could pick me up and go on a drive to talk through some problems. I obliged, and he shared his feelings as we cruised down the highway.

What about driving puts people at ease to talk freely? I have a few thoughts on the matter.

A Sense of Intimacy

Cars present an interesting environment. You’re totally in public while you’re out on the road, yet being in a car is also a very private experience. The riders are alone and close together in a small space, and there’s no easy or safe exit while driving. Essentially, you’re locked in a moving box with windows.

Wording it that way sounds a little creepy, but the sense of closeness cars create are perfect for hard conversations. Talks can be kept totally private with closed windows. Furthermore, certain forms of physical contact, like hand-holding, come naturally in close quarters. Intimacy encourages openness.

No Eye Contact Necessary

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but eye contact can be pretty uncomfortable for some. If long periods of eye contact make you anxious, consider having your next heart to heart in a car, where eye contact is generally discouraged. If you want to make as little eye contact as possible, be the driver.

Eye contact doesn’t make me nervous, but it’s pretty likely that I will cry if I make eye contact for a while during a tough conversation. I always let myself cry if I feel like it, but sometimes I simply don’t want to cry. If I’m having an argument or want to express anger, crying (the sniveling kind, in particular) can inhibit me from getting my point across.

Fewer Distractions

Parents can talk to their kids without the slam of the bedroom door. Singles on a date can reveal their feelings without the interruption of a waiter. Talking in the car makes it easier to stick to the topic at hand.

There are fewer distractions inside of a car than other private areas. This is likely because of how small the space in a vehicle is compared to, say, a living space. There’s so much to do in a house (cleaning, cooking, watching television), while all you can do in a car is sit and listen to the radio. Of course drivers need to primarily focus on the road, but most can still easily converse while steering the wheel.

Give It a Spin

Do you want to open up to somebody about an issue but are afraid to do so? Try bringing up your feelings on the road. It just might be the perfect setting for you express yourself.

Have you ever had a deep conversation during a car ride? Share you experience in the comments.

Jumping Back into a Fitness Journey After a Break

jumping back into a fitness journey after a break self care season

Today I lifted a weight for the first time in three years.

Typing that made me cringe a little, but it’s true and I’m not going to make myself feel bad about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I did the thing I’ve been dreading to get back in to: I actually worked out today!

I love to walk everywhere and often pass that 10,000 step mark, but that has been the extent of my exercise routine for a while. I’ve lost forty pounds in the last year through changing up my diet (Whole30 did me well) and walking, yet it became clear to me that I had to commit to restarting my fitness journey to continue making progress.

But I felt scared. I googled nearby gyms and hesitated to sign up for any memberships. I would look like a total newbie, use a machine incorrectly, insert other excuse my thoughts came up with. I was feeling really anxious about working out which then made me feel pathetic. The loop of self-doubt is real, folks.

These feelings held me back until the perfect opportunity arose. My friend Jenn Damiano became a certified personal trainer and asked me if I would be interested trying a session. I wouldn’t have to exercise in a public gym and I would get to work with someone I already knew. I said yes and we scheduled a private session.

Of course I felt a little nervous as I laced up my sneakers before my first workout back, but I got through it and I’m so glad I did! Here are a few tips to help you restart of your fitness journey.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes. The opinions expressed on this website are solely mine and do not reflect the opinions of any others. I am not a medical professional, and any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice. Consult your doctor regarding your nutrition and fitness.

Find a Friend

Team up with a friend or family member as you dive back into working out. Having someone you trust with you in the gym may make you feel less intimidated, plus it’s always easier to get something done when you know that someone is depending on you!

I lucked out by teaming up with a personal trainer who happened to be a friend. It made our session super chill, personal, and fun!

Wear Something That Makes You Happy

When you’re getting dressed for your first time back on the mat, consider choosing a piece of clothing or an accessory that brings you joy. Putting it on could make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Cute sneakers, leggings with a funky pattern, or that old lanyard bracelet you made at sleepaway camp could hype you up for your impending workout.

kiss t-shirt george workout

I decided to wear an old and soft KISS t-shirt my birth dad gifted me with some stretch capris to me to my first session. I felt ready to rock-and-roll all through my work-out. It was clearly a great choice.

Watch Your Nutrition

The nutrients we put into our bodies can really affect how well we function. Make adjustments to your diet that will help you before, during, and after your first workout back.

Don’t workout on a completely empty stomach. Take water breaks between songs and sets. Eat some protein once you’re done to help your muscles recover.

Take it Easy

Maybe you ran a ten minute mile in your heyday, but you probably shouldn’t attempt to do it again if you’re hitting the track for the first time in a while. You may feel eager to get back to the place you left off, but don’t push yourself too hard in that first workout. Doing so could increase your risk of injury.

It’s better to be patient with yourself and start slow. Modify the amount of sets you do and opt for lighter weights than you’ve used in the past. Take adequate breaks. Most importantly, listen to your body. If somethings hurt, stop and evaluate. It’s always better to avoid an injury than have to heal from one.

Once arms, legs, and abs were done at the end of my first session, I was feeling a bit burnt out. Jenn told me it was fine to stop a bit early and start cooling down if I felt like it, so that’s what we did. I really appreciated that she didn’t force me to go too hard.

I’m so glad I took this leap and said “yes” to exercising again! Stay tuned as I discover what forms of physical self-care work best for me.

Acts of Self-Care to Try at a Coffee Shop

self-care coffee shop

A cozy corner table in a coffee shop can be oh-so inviting. I can spend hours in The Black Cow or Manhattanville Coffee, and it’s because these spaces make me feel really comfortable. Heck, I wrote this blog post at the Peekskill Coffee House.

Maybe it’s the bustle of the morning customers in need of caffeine, the smell of steamed milk and cinnamon, or the endless stream of tunes that keep me coming back. The combination of these factors make the magical coffee shop a perfect place to practice self-care.

From one coffee-love to another, here are a few acts of self-care to try the next time you visit your local coffee shop.

Allow the Environment to Affect You

Why do I love coffee shops so much? The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are generally pleasant at the majority of shops. One of the easiest ways to practice self-care is to put yourself in an environment that makes you feel good, and coffee shops just do that for me.

My favorite coffee shops emit warmth, play music to fit the mood, and are full of light. What environmental details matter to you when it comes to feeling good? If your ideal coffee shop has free WiFi, serves sandwiches, and sticks to a jazz playlist, then search for that spot and visit it often. Your coffee shop could become a self-care spot for years to come!

People Watch

This tip is related to allowing your environment affect you but deserves further explanation. I’m not suggesting stalking anyone in particular, but people-watching (and dogspotting) can be a wonderful way to reconnect with humanity and ground yourself. Simply grab a table and take in the fascinating human beings and animals around you while you sip your tea.

Relax, you’re not creepy – everyone people watches! Starting by simply observing the actions and reactions around you that catch your eye. Focus on the occurences that bring you joy and let yourself get lost in someone else’s universe.

Check Tasks Off of your To-Do List

In my opinion, the coffee shop is the perfect environment to complete tasks you’ve been putting off at home. Tax prep, studying, or finally organizing your inbox may be slightly more bearable in the presence of pastries. There’s also a good chance other people will be working around you. Let the atmosphere of productivity inspire you.

Complete that nagging task and take a sip of coffee. I always feel so good when I cross something off my list.

If the background noise becomes too distracting, I suggest listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you work. You could try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks or Join Amazon Prime Music and start with a 30-day Free Trial.

Meditate

Some people prefer to meditate in a place that is totally silent, but I actually like to meditate with a bit background noise. Maybe you’ll like meditating in a coffee shop too!

I typically try to meditate alone at a table for a few minutes before tackling that to-do list. I start by focusing on my breath in relation to the various sounds and smells around me. I feel my body touching the chair and my feet resting on the floor. A few minutes of being aware of my environment creates the calmness that allows me to reach that tranquil place.

Order a cup of green tea once you’re done meditating and let the calm vibes flow!

Strike Up a Conversation

If you have extrovert tendencies and social interactions re-charge you, then take advantage of the friendly atmosphere that many coffee shops provide. Connecting with the person at the next table could make you feel really great.

Unsure of how to make that first move? Try respectfully complimenting a stranger, chatting with your favorite barista, petting a dog (with the owner’s permission), or making a silly face if a baby or young child looks at you.

Do you practice acts of self-care at your coffee shop? Share your personal experiences and favorite spots in the comments! 

 

Tarot Cards & Self-Care

tarot cards self care self love

Shuffle the deck. Breathe. Pick a card and place it face up. Look at it. Let the name of it sit on your tongue. Pick another card and do the same thing. Then another. Think. Keep breathing.

To me, reading Tarot Cards is similar to thinking out loud at talk-therapy. While I’m not suggesting replacing mental health treatments with a deck of cards (always seek help when you need it!), this ancient practice can be help you contemplate and try to understand your circumstances.

Some of you may be skeptical reading this. How could a deck of cards help with self-care? Spiritual rituals like Tarot aren’t exactly scientific, so why continue to keep this tradition alive? 

Personally, I like Tarot Cards because the images encourage self-reflection. To me, it isn’t a spiritual thing as much as it is a analyzation exercise. Exploring the meaning of the cards can help you gain a new perspective on your life.

Tarot readings have been a part of my regular self-care routine since 2017. I usually do a three-card spread every morning as a way to look at the day ahead, but I’ve also done readings at random times of day using alternate layout spreads. There are multiple ways to look at three-card spreads, but I typically do past, present, future or body, mind, spirit. 

tarot cards three card spread
Three-Card Spread: Seven of Wands, Three of Swords, The Tower

Three-card spreads are a great starting point compared to complicated ten-card spreads, as you’ll only have three images to contemplate. It’s best to start simple. Shuffle the deck however you please and lay out three cards.

I spend a lot of time looking at the cards. Doing so feels a bit like meditation if you’re really focused. Try to remember to breathe as you take in each image.

You can easily sense the tone of each card without knowing the classical background of the deck. The numerous symbols, colors, shapes, numbers, and illustrations assemble to create distinct vibes. What does this card make me feel? 

After analyzing the cards on their own, try to examine the placement of the cards and the connections between the cards. Why is this card in this specific spot? Are there any running themes in the cards?

In the spread above, I particularly noticed storms clouds and grey skies in both the Three of Swords and Tower cards. Grey gives off uncertain vibes, so I understood the cards to mean I would be in a shaky, odd place today, tomorrow, and possibly beyond that. The Three of Swords card felt appropriate in the present slot as well, as the aftermath of my breakup continues. Ah, the pain!

You may be wondering if I felt upset or discouraged by this spread. A heart is literally being stabbed by swords and the Tower card looks pretty dangerous. In my opinion, not one of the 78 cards are negative, even the Death card, because nothing in life is strictly good or bad. What really matters is perspective.

The Three of Swords card is about pain, which is generally perceived to be a negative thing. But pain, including the pain of my break-up, will help me grow. I wouldn’t be fully living if I never experienced pain.

I also try not to take the cards too seriously or give the cards too much power. I subscribe to a che sera, sera attitude in life. In Tarot terms, no card placements are permanent and you’ll get different cards all the time. In reality, tarot card are just thick pieces of paper and they only have to occupy as much brain space as I allow them to.

Where do you start if you want to try out Tarot? I suggest having a reading done by an experienced reader if you’ve never done so before. Ask a friend or family member for suggestions of readers they have gone to in the past. Having your cards read for the first time can be a really cool experience!

If you’ve had readings in the past, then I suggest diving in by buying a deck to call your own. Here are a few decks to check out:

Start by simply looking at each card in your deck and writing down your initial reactions before moving on to spreads. Take your time and be patient with yourself. You’ll gain experience and speed as you continue to read your cards. Eventually, you may feel comfortable enough to do readings for other people!

Have an opinion on Tarot Cards? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’ll have more posts on Tarot in the future, so stay tuned!