Tea and Mindfulness – How to make mental wellness an everyday activity
When you have a full and busy life, and who doesn’t, building small moments of mindfulness into your lifestyle can really help to balance the mind. If I suggested meditating for an hour 5 times a week could help you to feel calmer, think clearer and be energised you would probably believe me, but, finding 5 hours a week can seem impossible! This means you try it for a week or two and then slowly forget you are supposed to be doing it at all apart from brief guilty flashes. The idea of building mindfulness in with tea is that you take a moment to centre yourself by fitting it into the lifestyle you already have.
What is mindfulness?
The concept is devastatingly simple. It is so easy to be caught up in doing and reacting and living inside our heads and not really noticing the impact on our minds and bodies. Mindfulness is the simple act of stopping your life for a moment and directing your thoughts to be aware of that moment. Become aware of the light, sound smells and the environment you are in. Once you see the present moment clearly you can use this to reconnect with your body. Take time to acknowledge how you are feeling; physically and mentally. Take control of your thoughts, and name your feelings “this is Anxiety”. Slow your thought stream and be conscious of the individual thoughts one by one. Be aware of how each thought is making you feel.
How can Mindfulness help?
Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had three or more bouts of depression in the past. There are loads of other things that science has found mindfulness helps with, here are just some.
- Enhances mental health and functioning
- Increases emotion regulation and self-control
- Decreases anxiety, depression, worry, and rumination
- Decreases stress and psychological distress
- Reduces the incidence of problem drinking and symptoms associated with problem drinking
- Enhances academic achievement in students
- Improving social and relational skills
- Reducing burnout
- decreases in staff turnover
Mindfulness can help you to enjoy the world around you more and understand what makes you tick. Once you acknowledge the thoughts and how they make you feel you can look for patterns. For instance “If I think about money I get anxious and panicky” this slow down can lead to some personal revelations “then I distract myself with food”. You can make the link between these thoughts and the drivers for your emotion and behaviour. Even if at that time you have no way to fix the anxieties around money you can control how you react to it. Ask yourself if your reaction is helpful or harmful. You can then plan ways to better help yourself or ask others for help.
Some people find it very difficult to begin practising mindfulness. They find that when they focus on what they are thinking all the negative thoughts and worries crowd in. It is important to remember that we are not trying to stop these thoughts. We are reframing them as mental moments. If this happens for you try imagining your thoughts as water running from a tap. Turn the tap to slow the thoughts, then each drop of water is a thought. Acknowledge them but don’t try to catch them. Let most of them just drip down and fall out of sight down the drain. Catch one or 2 perhaps if they are interesting or impactful for you. This can be difficult at first but with practice, it gets easier.
When and where can I practice mindfulness?
The joy is you can practice this anywhere and at any time. The real question is when is it most helpful? If you realise you have spent some time trapped by reliving past events or worrying about events that may be happening in the future then use mindfulness to escape the trap. In the early stages, it can also be very helpful to set aside time to engage with your mind each day. We strongly believe that this should be made as accessible and achievable as possible so that it is easy to keep up the habit day today. It is also recommended to do everyday tasks in a slightly different way to help you to notice the world.
Tea and Mindfulness
This is where tea comes in. At some point during the day, most people will make a hot drink. Seize this as your mindful moment. If you are in a rush this can be as short as 10 min but if you can take a little longer we recommend it.
What do I need?
You will need:
Loose leaf tea – pick something to suit your mood or health needs. Ask us if you would like recommendations
Kettle – unless you want cold-brewed tea served with iced
A teapot or teacup – preferably glass so you can really see the leaves swimming and dancing
Tea strainer – If you don’t like leaves in your finished drink
A chair – to mindfully drink the tea.
What to do.
- Empty the kettle and fill with fresh water from the kettle. Put the kettle on to boil. Notice the sound of the water, the weight change in your hand.
- Look at the instructions on the tea and add the right amount of tea to the cup or pot. Take time to smell the tea and notice the ingredients. Can you see the different pieces?
- While you wait for the kettle to boil just check on your breathing. Ensure you are being mindful. Look out of the window if you have one. Notice how the light is touching the world.
- Add the water at the correct temperature to the pot or cup. Notice all the different pieces of the tea dashing about in the water. Look at what floats and what sinks. Be aware of the smells and the water changing colour.
- While the tea brews for the next few minutes sit or stand and watch it. Watch the gentle dance of the leaves. The change in the water and the aroma. Focus on your thoughts, name your feelings, turn down the tap and slow the thoughts.
- Pour the tea through the strainer into your cup for drinking. Feel the heat of the cup. Take a deep smell of the tea.
- If you have the luxury of time take the tea and continue the mindfulness while the tea cools and while you drink the brew.