Drink Tea this Holiday Season to Wind Down in a Healthy Way
For many people, alcohol is the drink of choice to unwind or to sip along with their evening meal. However, recent evidence points to the fact that even limited alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer and other diseases. If you are looking for a healthier way to relax at the end of the day, consider making a cup of tea your evening ritual.
Choosing tea instead of alcohol is not about depriving yourself of a daily pleasure. Rather, it’s about making choices to support your long-term health, and cultivating a mindful awareness to bring true peace and calm to your mind and body, with a healthful and relaxing cup of tea.
The UK’s New Drinking Guidelines
Before we get into the ritual of drinking tea, you might be interested in learning about the UK’s recent report on the safety of alcohol. This year the Department of Health issued a report and renewed guidelines for alcohol consumption based on the most recent research. This report is an update to the UK’s last report on alcohol issued in 1995. Since then much more research has been done on the affects of alcohol on long-term health. Based on these studies and meta-analyses, the report makes some poignant conclusions, that might make you think differently about your evening drink:
• There is no “safe” limit of alcohol consumption.
• There is a stronger link between alcohol consumption and cancer than previously thought.
• The recommended limit of alcohol consumption, to keep the risk for cancer and other diseases low, is more conservative than before.
• The report concluded that there is no justification for drinking for health reasons, and that the evidence that previously supported alcohol as a heart-healthy, preventative beverage is in fact weaker than was thought.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain
Many people choose alcohol for their evening drink because it gives you an immediate sense of pleasure. This is because alcohol releases a burst of dopamine (the feel good hormone) in your brain. This hormonal rush tricks your brain into thinking the alcohol makes you feel better. You momentarily feel energized and happy, but at the same time alcohol also increases feelings of depression. Overtime the dopamine affect lessens, but the desire for that moment of release and feeling-good drives people to make drinking a habitual choice, even if they aren’t getting the same buzz they might be expecting. After the release of dopamine the depressant qualities of alcohol kick in. It slows down thinking, speech and movement, impairs judgement, increases aggression, and has negative impacts on sleep quality.
Drinking Tea as an Evening Meditation
Choosing tea as an evening beverage is not only a healthy choice, it’s also a conscious one. As mentioned above, alcohol tricks the mind into thinking you feel good. It masks the emotional and mental residue of the day with an artificial release of happy hormones.
Drinking tea can serve a moment for reflection and meditation to naturally let go of the day’s residue to bring about an organic sense of well-being. By bringing your attention to the act of making and drinking tea, you connect with the present moment. Being fully aware of the here and now naturally brings a sense of calm and peace to your being.
Mindful attention can also be complemented by cultivating a sense of gratitude. During your evening tea ritual you can contemplate what you are grateful for in your life and in that day, or just for the simple things we take for granted like clean water, delicious tea, the feeling of warmth in your belly, having a body, etc.
Learning to release the stress of the day in this way is not only healthier than relying on alcohol, it’s also good training for bringing mindful presence to other moments of your daily life. Really any moment can be an experience of mindfulness and peace, but making an evening cup of tea your ritual for winding down will bring you the sense of restorative calm you need at the end of a busy day. This kind of regular reflection can over time help you to feel emotionally lighter throughout the day so that when you get home you don’t feel as weighed down.
Teas to Enjoy after a Day of Work
Here is a small selection of teas that are especially nice to enjoy at the end of the day. This list includes teas low in caffeine, and caffeine-free herbal teas.
White teas have the lowest caffeine content of any tea. Those who tolerate a little caffeine in the evening will love these smooth and soothing teas:
Love – this lovely blend of jasmine white tea and rose buds has a velvety body and subtle sweetness.
Coconut White – another white tea, with a more robust sweetness. This tea makes makes excellent hot and iced tea.
These teas are free of caffeine and are some of our most popular herbal teas.
Dark Buckwheat – an Arogya favorite! This highly anti-inflammatory herbal tea has been described as tasting like buttered waffles, biscuits and croissants!
Lemon Ginger – a cup of this zesty herbal tea before dinner is a wonderful way to strengthen your digestive fire to improve digestion. With a host of warming and citrusy herbs, and speckled with super-nutritive goji berries, this tea is a powerful brew to come home to.
These caffeine-free herbal teas include herbs known as nervines. While alcohol acts as a depressant on the nervous system, nervine herbs nourish the nervous system, helping the body to heal and restore from the stress of the day. Some nervine herbs, such a chamomile and lemon balm also promote relaxation.
Deep Relaxation – this tea is for the really stressful days, or if you have a hard time sleeping. The deeply relaxing Valerian Root is paired with Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Rose Petals and Dried Strawberries to activate the relax and restore function of the parasympathetic nervous system.
D’Stress Calming – this adaptogenic herbal tea features the herb Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, which is famous in Indian herbalism as an elixir of life. Overtime Tulsi helps to regulate cortisol production, helping you to feel energized and relaxed throughout the day. Read more about this amazing herb on a out blog post: Tulsi, an Herb for Everyday Health and Stamina
Banana Chamomile – drinking this delicious and calming tea is like enjoying a sweet treat. A combination of calming Chamomile, sweet Rooibos, and delicious Dried Banana and Coconut.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Tea Meditation
Finally, while you may not take a whole hour to mindfully sip a cup of tea like Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, this video, in which he guides Oprah in the art of tea meditation, is inspiring.
By Chloe Bolton