With almost every part of our lives now on hold because of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s only natural that so many of us are feeling more than a little stressed. Because of social distancing and shelter in place orders around the country, many people have been stuck inside their homes or apartments. Being in quarantine can be a nerve-wracking experience, whether you live alone or share your living space with others. Enjoying a cup of tea during these times can be the perfect thing to relax and refresh you and to help to ease stress.
Tea and Meditation
One of the best ways to ease stress and help us relax is the process of meditation. Tea has also played a crucial role in the art of meditation almost since it was first discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 BCE.
The properties contained within the leaves of the Camellia sinensis or tea plant contain properties that help the body relax and let go, yet provides a sense of ‘relaxed attention’ that is conducive to assisting the mind and body enter a state of contemplation and reflection.
According to international peace activist and Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh, drinking tea is a natural part of meditation,
“When I drink tea, there is only me and tea. The rest of the world dissolves. There are no worries about the future. No dwelling on past mistakes. This is the act of living in one pure moment, and the truth of the world becomes suddenly revealed. There is only the tea and me converging.”
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, for example, is a highly formal and ritualized form of meditation. Every aspect of a tea ceremony, from how and where the water for the tea is drawn, to how it is prepared, served, and consumed is focused and meditative.
Of course, you don’t need to perform a tea ceremony to understand that there’s nothing like holding a cup of hot tea in your hand on a cold or rainy day. Just by absorbing the warmth and aroma that rises from steamy depths of a cup of tea can ease away the stresses of the day. Tea can provide you with just the right amount of space to reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed at any time of the day. Countless scientific studies conducted around the world have shown that when there are fewer stresses in the body, we are less susceptible to illness and can keep us more healthy overall.
Taking Tea Beyond the Cup
After you’ve enjoyed your cup of tea, the loose green tea leaves or tea bags can be used again to help further relax you.
- Take the loose tea leaves and place them in a muslin bag that can be draped over the spigot in your bathtub. The hot water running through the tea leaves will go into your bathwater. The antioxidant properties contained within the tea leaves will help soften skin and ease inflammation and irritation.
- Because many of us are now working from home and spending a lot more time in front of computer screens, eyes can get tired and sore. Help soothe them by getting into the habit of saving your used tea bags. After squeezing out the excess moisture, place them in a small dish in the refrigerator to be used as a cold compress. Put one on each eye, then lie back and relax for at least 10 minutes or as long as you like.
- If you’ve been using the time away from the office and are on your feet catching on work around the house, soak your feet in green tea to reduce swelling. The antifungal properties that are naturally occurring in the tea leaves can act to help eliminate the bacteria that can cause foot odor or athlete’s foot fungus.
- Take the time to pamper yourself by using green tea leaves to make a facial or body scrub. Just add some green tea leaves to a bit of water, sugar, or kosher salt. Gently scrub your skin and then rinse off thoroughly before gently patting dry. It can be just that simple to make a completely natural beauty product. Make it a part of your daily routine to clean and exfoliate your skin and leave it glowing.
- Stress is the time when many of us get stress-related breakouts on our skin. To help put the kibosh on acne, make a mask using green tea leaves and water. After allowing the mixture to dry completely, rinse the leaves off of the skin, then gently pat dry. The mildly-astringent properties contained within the tea leaves will act to draw out impurities and dry up acne.
- Being cooped up inside can make things smell a bit musty. You can sprinkle the tea leaves used in your tea to help refresh your carpets, appliances, and pet beds. After allowing the leaves to thoroughly dry, sprinkle them on your carpets and let the leaves to sit for at least 10 -15 minutes, then vacuum. Both your carpeting and your vacuum cleaner will smell a lot fresher.You can use the dried tea leaves in the same way for pet beds, too. Sprinkle them over the dog bed for at least an hour or longer. Then take the pet bed, leaves and all, and shake them off outside. The dog bed will smell much cleaner, and the leaves can act as a natural pest deterrent, too.
“The Way of Tea” by Master Lam Kam Chuyen, Lam Kai Sin and Lam Tin Yu, 2002, Barron’s Educational Series, NY
“The Everything Healthy Tea Book: Discovering the Healing Benefits of Tea” by Babette Donaldson, 2014, Simon and Schuster Digital Media, New York, NY
“The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide” by Mary Lou Heiss, 2007, Ten Speed Press
“The Book of Green Tea” by Diana Rosen, 1994, Storey Books, Toronto, Canada
“20,000 Secrets of Tea” by Victoria Zak, 1999, Random House Publications, New Yor, NY