The hardest thing that I have found over the last few months, is the feeling of having had the rug pulled from beneath my feet. And not just the rug, but all the small things too, that made up such an enormous part of my life and brought me little blasts of joy throughout the day – they have just vanished into thin air, like a puff of smoke.
Meeting a friend in a café, popping round to a neighbour for a natter, dinners with friends, mooches in museums and lazy pub evening with pals… all seem to have been gobbled up by The Covid Monster and it has, at times, left me feeling rather bereft.
A sense of sadness, limbo and unsettledness have all merged into my being since February and we have all been on this extraordinary roller coaster journey together.
I realised quite quickly that I was going to need to find my joy in other places, as being miserable and glum was not a vibe that was appealing. And actually, once I started looking, I realised that so many of my existing small rituals already bring me great amounts of joy – I just hadn’t noticed.
Having a lie-in, watching re-runs of The Gilmore Girls, taking part in an online Pilates class, batch cooking and doing a jigsaw (anyone got any they can recommend?!) have all been bringing me levels of joy, happiness and peace that I wouldn’t have considered. And a huge part of these, um, activities (I’m using that term loosely – I’m pretty much stationary) is that my mind can be still. They are meditative in their own ways.
A big one for me was always having a cuppa with a friend. Taking that time to stop, put the kettle on and have a proper natter. The tea-break seems like rather a dusty tradition, but actually, it’s one of my most important. And just because I can’t see a friend in person, making the time for a zoom and a cup of tea with a friend or family member has been one of my main saving graces this lockdown.
It’s not just my mind that tea is helping to keep in check, it also does wonders for the gut, which is no surprise when you consider how calming and comforting it is. Often called the ‘second brain’, our guts are involved in a mind-boggling number of processes that keep our bodies ticking over as they should. And tea is one of the most magical and important things we can drink to help it do its job effectively and fight the fight of the good bacteria versus the bad. Things like lowering the risk of infection, reducing inflammation, lowering our cholesterol and improving bone density – it’s tea to the rescue and with every sip I slurp, I take great comfort in the knowledge that it’s doing an amazing job, not just for my mind and mental wellbeing, but for my gut and body too. The Tea Advisory Panel has recently released a new report all about gut health and why it’s so important, and it has revealed that by protecting our gut health means we are also protecting ourselves from chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Just by eating fewer ultra-processed foods and instead choosing more food and drink that are rich in natural probiotics, is a great way to keep our gut bacteria healthy.
Fermented foods and probiotic drinks also contain live and beneficial bacteria, so scoffing yogurt, pickles, miso and kefir are excellent choices. And again, if you want to reach for your favourite mug, why not make yourself a fermented drink – kombucha! It can easily be made from green or black tea..
So if you’re feeling a bit frazzled or lockdown is getting you down, book in some time online with a friend. Make yourself a cuppa, and take a breath.
Talk about the silly stuff. The good stuff. The important stuff. You’ll be giving your heart, mind and gut a well deserved boost.
This post is sponsored by the Tea Advisory Panel