Friday, June 8, 2012

Stress Relief & Sonnentor tea "Relaxing Herbal Spice Tea"

I know this one has been a long time coming but between getting ready for a wedding, trying to organize a move and dealing with the first stages of a PhD my mind has been blown the last few weeks :) which brings me to the topic of this post, namely the stress relieving properties of tea.

OK normally I am an anxious creature anyway and I have a very good imagination.  Forget molehills I live among mountains and try as I might to hide this fact from the vast majority of the world I can't quite pull off  being cool. I'm more fire then water and my coping mechanism is to charge at something and bash it into submission. "Wapaa: take that to-do -list"! 

So how does one cope with stress. There are a million different ways! Some people meditate, some people do yoga, some people write blogs :) and some people tell what ever it is that is stressing them out to take a running jump. Seriously anything that involves a good dose of dopamine and adrenaline seem to be a good fix for me(hence the ex-smoker bit). If I am not too lazy to follow through then an evening at the gym, going for a walk/run or possibly some form of martial art   works wonders. Another route to take would  be some life affirming extreme sport (my personal favorite being white water rafting as I haven't quite worked up the courage to jump off a bridge with what is essentially a giant rubber band attached to my ankles). 

However I have come to realize that while my charge up the hill approach to pretty much everything is a good plan for short term projects if you use the fight mechanism to get through everything eventually you end up wrecked. Also somethings in life need detail, precision and patience and if you are a hot headed charger who fights their way to the end you often miss the details and sometimes the pleasure in the journey.  So I have been trying to readdress this balance by going for the more meditative arts. 

My attempt to find quieter ways of stress relief includes both yoga and tea making. Yoga because I really don't have the patience to meditate yet and yoga is something active that promotes meditation. And tea drinking for two very different reasons: Firstly there is the act of making tea and secondly you can make a tea from plants with calming properties.  

The act of making tea relieves stress for a number of reasons but primarily it gets you the hell away from whatever is frustrating the hell out of you. Seriously next time you are working on a problem and you find yourself blocked, instead of trying to push through it, get up and make yourself a cup of tea. Think about the question and the problem but run it in the background as you devote some of your brain power to boiling the water and brewing the tea. Relax, try to let it go and have a drink. Then return to your desk and see if you can tackle the problem more objectively. Maybe you just need to go around the problem, look something up or ask someone. Whatever it is that you need to do getting a bit of distance will help you tackle it. 

There are many plants know for their calming properties particularly Jasmine, lavender and Camomile are the ones that spring to mind on the spot. Both Jasmine and Lavender are known for the soothing and sedative properties of their aroma. 

Jasmine tea is consumed in China, where it is called jasmine-flower tea (茉莉花茶; pinyin: mò lì huā chá). Jasmine tea often uses green tea or oolong tea as a base.

The lavenders (botanic name Lavandula) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family. It has a strong effect and is mostly useful through aroma therapy. It comes with a few health cautions and personally I find it intoxicating in both the good and bad sense of the word. In the good sense used mildly  it will help me sleep. Overuse of it however overpowers and feels suffocating. It is definately a plant I will return to later in this blog. 

Camomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae and are best known for their ability to be made into an infusion which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with either honey or lemon. It is recommended that pregnant women don't drink it however as it may cause contractions.

The tea I have tried from Sonnentor entitled "Relaxing Herbal Spice Tea", includes lemon balm, sage, lavender, parsley, fennel and marigold. I found that this tea did not have a strong flavor and mostly what I could taste was the fennel and sage.Common sage is grown in parts of Europe for distillation of an essential oil,  As a kitchen herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. I did not find it had a particularly relaxing effect however although this may be influenced by how keyed up I was when I drank it. For relaxation I normally rely on Jasmine tea as I find Jasmine not as pungent as Lavender and tastier then camomile. My recommendation would be to find a nice green tea with jasmine flowers if you wish to relax. I would also recommend loose tea rather then a teabag. Take you time brewing the tea. Boil the water, prepare the teapot, sit comfortably and sip the tea from a small cup. Make it a 10min relaxation ritual that allows you to breath and take in the smell and flavor slowly. Root yourself in the present while enjoying your Jasmine tea and breath.