It may SEEM like the rest of the country is rushing to book a table in a beer garden, or can’t wait to have dinner in their favourite restaurant… but that’s still not what I’m hearing from a lot of my patients. 

For many, the final lifting of restrictions, while welcome, also arrives with a sense of anxiety and trepidation, and many people are still feeling unsure. 

One patient even said that she found seeing people more draining than usual and that she was under a lot of pressure to see people but she was really resisting filling up her calendar and definitely didn’t want to return to the busy social life she had before. 

And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a very normal reaction to the very abnormal situation we are emerging from.

Never have we been asked to adapt so often as in the last two years. We’ve gone from the trauma (I don’t use that word lightly) of empty supermarket shelves and being told to stay home, through the various levels opening up and shutting back down again. And now we are exhausted with it.

It’s important to remember that ANY change is stressful for the body. These last few years we have had more than our fair share and coming out of covid has come with the war in Europe and rising prices everywhere.  

So, if you are feeling a bit anxious about it all, you’re not alone. What you can do to help yourself is: 

1. Pick things back up on your terms. We’ll all do it at our own pace and if it feels overwhelming, just slow down a bit.

2. Try to reduce your stresses in other areas, by getting enough rest, eating as well as you can, and cutting out the caffeine.

3. Drink herbal teas through the day to support your body and if stress is a problem choose calming drinks with chamomile, limeflower, valerian, and orange blossom to help reduce feelings of anxiety.

4. Keep your blood sugar levels steady by snacking on protein-rich snacks like nuts and seeds. Being hungry makes your body release adrenaline which makes you feel more anxious.

Everyone is going to do this summer differently – so come out of this in a way that supports you. That way, when you’re ready to face the beer garden, or a holiday abroad you’ll enjoy yourself and that, after all, is what it’s all about! 

Managing anxiety has always been key to my work and never more so than now. Luckily there are many herbs I can turn to. Some support stressed adrenal glands to get us out of the fight, flight, or freeze. Others improve mood, regulate neurotransmitters, ease palpitations or improve digestion. 

Here are my top 5 herbs of the moment: 

Lemon balm – this fragrant member of the mint family is easy to grow and has a heavenly lemony scent. It is great for anxiety and supports digestion so it is key if you have IBS that gets worse when stress levels are high. I call this ‘Tigger Herb’ because it often lifts mood too. It tastes great picked straight from the garden in summer drinks.

California poppy – a pretty herb that is easy to grow. Perfect for anyone who overthinks things and just can’t get out of their heads. If your inner radio station is playing all day and through the night this definitely a herb to consider.

Valerian – has a long history of use as a relaxant and even, for some people, as a mild antidepressant. It slows the breakdown of the neurotransmitter GABA. Low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety and poor sleep.  

Orange blossom – sometimes found in the World Foods aisle, orange flower water is the perfect way to take this fragrant Mediterranean medicine. I find it irreplaceable for patients who have panic attacks or anyone who feels suddenly overwhelmed. Simply dilute 5mls in water and sip to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic. 

Ashwagandha – a traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha supports the adrenal glands that pump out adrenaline and cortisol when we are anxious. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera giving us the clue that it also supports sleep – vital to building resilience to stress.