“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
–  Sidney Harris, journalist

stress_sepiaToo much stress?

The seemingly dreaded “cortisol” hormone was designed to help us. However, according to About.com:

“While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.”

When do we have time to relax?

NOW! Don’t wait until you are in the midst of stress. Plan ahead – plan daily.

Almost a decade ago, I began my tea journey with two questions:

1.  What is tea?
2.  Why is tea associated with tranquility and spirituality?

We rarely think of tea as something to pump ourselves up with – we usually think of tea as something to drink to calm ourselves down. This goes back thousands of years to the Buddhist monks who first discovered the calming, yet stimulating effects of the tea leaf – but they weren’t drinking it, they were eating it. They found the leaf of the Camellia sinensis perfect to prolong spiritual meditations. It calmed the mind and the body, thus allowing for mind, body, and soul alignment – the ultimate stress reliever.

Along with drinking tea, there are many other things we can do to keep our stress levels down: physical activity, yoga, tai chi, aromatherapy, visualization exercises, music, deep breathing, journaling, meditation, sex, laughter, singing, and self-hypnosis, along with many other simple practices. Can you combine any of these activities with drinking tea? Of course you can! Most of these can be enhanced by adding a simple cup of tea!

Again, from About.com:

“Higher and prolonged cortisol levels in the bloodstream can have a whole host of negative effects on the human body, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
  • Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!”

Who’s got time for any of these?

Since stress seems to be something that is part of our daily lives, we must do something daily to negate its effects. Can you pick just a few things from the aforementioned suggestions and add them to your daily routine?

Yes, yes you can! Don’t wait until stress manifests itself as a disease. Start now. Start with something simple and start sipping along and making the activity more enjoyable.

The time to relax is when you take the time and make the time. When else will it happen? Even our sleep is affected by the stress levels in our bodies. Consciously and daily – very simply – we can find ways to relieve the stress hormone “cortisol” and live happily and in a healthy, more empowered way.

Everyone deserves this – so make time for yourself. Put the kettle on and go to your happy place. Even smiling makes us feel better – let’s try that, too!