Author Aly Dort / Category Lifestyle / Published: July 2019
Relaxing your mind and body isn’t always an easy task; especially when you need it the most, or on mornings where you feel rushed. But taking a few minutes to prioritize simple exercises that promote relaxation can help you to make the most of your day. It can even help turn your rough morning around!
As a mom, I’m not allotted a lot of opportunities to practice mindfulness techniques. I understand the resistance and hesitation in creating space in your day for a whole other task, so today, we’re talking about three different exercises you can do without changing anything about your routine.
Practicing these exercises while making your cup of tea benefits your mind, body and soul without taking any additional time from your busy schedule. Win, win!
This morning, I’ll be making a cup of Calming Chamomile, as I’ve found chamomile tea benefits my anxiety greatly, and has been shown promote relaxation and boost the immune system- all things I need this week. However, you can practice these exercises over whichever cup of tea you regularly enjoy.
While Your Water Boils
Once you’re turned the kettle on, take a few minutes to notice where you’re holding tension throughout your body, and actively release that tension. It might help to do some light stretching to promote the loosening of these areas. I sometimes gentle massage the areas that need a little more encouragement.
We tend to hold onto our stress physically, and have the tendency to sink into protective postures, like hunching forward. The result is not only a back ache, however. Protective postures like this have been known to actually worsen stress and anxiety by triggering your fight or flight response.
So, relax those muscle, breathe deeply and stand tall! While you’re at it, maybe try a few power poses to I still confidence!
While Your Tea Steeps
While your tea is steeping, let’s partake in a bit of visualization- something I’m a huge fan of. It’s important to note that I am not a professional; these are all exercises I’ve learned throughout my life in therapy, yoga and university. There are some really great guided meditations and visualizations out there (I personally enjoy Head Space). Today, we’re starting with something fairly basic: Visualizing the day you’d like to have.
I know this is incredibly difficult some days. It’s likely the last thing you want to do on mornings where everything seems to have gone wrong. But visualization can help us not only feel a closer relationship to what we want, but can also actually make us happier. Recent research done in the field of cognitive neuroscience has suggested that the areas of the brain activated when you’re envisioning something, significant resembles those activated when you’re actually experiencing that same thing. Cool, right?
I encourage you to be as specific as possible while visualizing your day, though this might take some practice. You can be as specific as visualizing what you’ll have for lunch, or how you’ll feel when you finish the day and have a moment of solitude. You may find it helpful to close your eyes for this exercise, if possible. Even if it’s only for 30 seconds.
While You’re Enjoying Your Tea
One of my favourite qualities of having a hot cup of tea in the morning is that I’m forced to slow down and take my time.
Since we’ve already taken the time to release yesterday’s anxiety from our bodies, and envision our day, we’re now going to focus on what matters most in this moment: The present.
If you’re comfortable with the practice of mindfulness, you might take this time to enjoy your surroundings, and the feeling of enjoying your chamomile tea.
On days I’m finding it difficult to be present, there’s one exercise I turn to, to help ground me in the now: The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique. It’s fairly simple, and it looks like this:
5: Acknowledge five things you see around you. Try not to isolate the things you see that might cause anxiety (the half-eaten banana your child smooshed into his chair, for example). It could be the colours in a painting on your wall, maybe the intricate weave of a blanket... Try to notice something new around you.
4: Acknowledge four things you can touch around you. The feeling of your hot or iced tea in your hands, maybe the sofa you’re sitting on. What does it feel like? Comforting?
3: Acknowledge three things you can hear. The cars passing by outdoors? Listen closely. Perhaps it’s a blissful silence.
2: Acknowledge two things you can smell. The delicate scent of my your chamomile tea, the comforting scent of your laundry soap, the essential oils in your diffuser...
1: Finally, acknowledge one thing you can taste: Your tea. Is it earthy? Delicate? Minty? Fragrant? Describe the taste, however you can.
There is no right or wrong way to practice this exercise. It’s main function is to help you activate each of your senses and bring you into the present moment; a guided meditation of sorts.
However you practice mindfulness with your cup of tea, I hope you feel refreshed, revived and empowered to take on your day!
The Beauty & Tea Benefits of Chamomile
I almost always turn to chamomile when I wish to soothe my mind and body. I love how delicate and gentle the taste is, but I also love how this tea benefits such a diverse range of concerns.
The chamazulene in chamomile tea contains anti-inflammatory propertie, as well as pain-relieving and antispasmodic properties, according to the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry. This makes it a great tool for menstrual pain and cramping.
It’s gentle relaxant has shown to act as an effective natural sedative, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which is why you’ll find it used as an ingredient in many soothing blends.
But perhaps my favourite creative way to use our Calming Chamomile blend is for my very sensitive skin. It’s gentle nature makes it a perfect ingredient for sensitive or irritated skin. It’s routinely used in treatments for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and is one of the main ingredients in my daily facial moisturizer. Chamomile is flush with anti-oxidants and can help tighten pores.
Whenever my skin needs an extra TLC, I mix 1 tablespoons of dried chamomile, 1 Tablespoon of rolled oats, 1 Tablespoon of honey and 2 Tablespoons of jojoba oil and apply to my skin for a gentle, soothing mask and exfoliant. Of course, if you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to do a swatch test on the inner part of your arm prior to putting on your face, just to be sure!
The amazing tea benefits of chamomile continue to be a tool in my self care tool kit, and I suspect it will remain a go-to for many years to come.
What are your favourite ways to use your chamomile tea? Share them below!
Aly Dort is a freelance illustrator and stationery designer living in Halifax, N.S. She is passionate about mental health, social sustainability and empowering those around her.