Here at the Chhabra’s Chai HQ, we use any excuse or spare moment to drink some chai! It’s a great way to distract us from the pending doom of adulting and responsibilities. Research has shown that taking this time away from your hectic schedule, whether in the form of your daily cuppa or a gentle walk, can help to reduce stress.
In the past year (2018), a worryingly 74% of us have felt so stressed that we have been overwhelmed or unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-stress). While the source of stress stems from a variety of different causes, paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, can help to improve your mental wellbeing.
What is mindfulness?
It seems like mindfulness has been thrown around like a trendy buzz word this past year, but in truth, mindfulness takes many forms and means different things to different people.
Generally, it involves taking a step back to notice the world around us, and be aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment. In fact, the NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/) recommend using mindful techniques to improve mental wellbeing. Often when busy or stressed we start to run on autopilot or become unaware of our patterns of behaviour. Mindfulness helps us to recognise how our thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.
Of course, mindfulness is not the only social phenomenon that can help you to de-stress. The Danish have had the concept of ’hygge’ (hue-guh) since the 1800s, it’s a word used when acknowledging a special feeling or cosy moment.
While Pinterest might try to sell it to you in the form of new room décor and fireplaces, it’s more akin to a warming and snuggled atmosphere which you can create yourself – whether that’s lighting some scented candles or chilling in your pyjamas drinking tea.
In addition, we came across the concept of IKIGAI (Ee-key-guy) in Japan, when co-founder Casey visited this year. Rather than the ‘slowing down’ concept of Hygge, Ikigai is all about movement. It is about uncovering what you love and are good at. Finding it requires a willingness for deep self-exploration and thoughtful reflection. Once you have found your ‘bliss’, or unlocked your Ikigai – you can go after it.
How do I put it into practice?
In my opinion, mindfulness refers to self-awareness and appreciating the present moment. Our ‘Take a Chai moment’ mission encourages individuals to take conscious steps to slow down and breathe. This is not exclusive to enjoying a soothing hot beverage, it can also involve personal meditation, creative therapy through colouring and writing, listening to music, knitting; the list really is endless!
Use your break-time wisely, we encourage you to take the time to be reflective and mindful. Here are my top three tried activities:
- Have a warm drink (preferably chai) but take slow sips and take time to notice the taste, texture and smell – don’t just dive for the Digestives and stick on Netflix. Give thought to where the food or beverage has come from and savour it. Even if you take a small raisin or a bite of a crunchy apple, make sure to take a moment and assess the real flavour and textures of what you’re eating.
- Exercise is the perfect way to clear your mind and redirect your focus. In particular, it’s always good to take a step outside and embark on gentle walks or runs. Notice your body and feel the air (or rain in the UK), and be aware of the world around you
- Hold off from hastily responding to angry texts or challenging emails. I am definitely guilty of this – when you’re caught in a moment of anger or frustration you just want to hit that send button. Instead, leave the reply in your draft box and come back to it later when you’re feeling calmer. You’ll be able to reflect on your thoughts and reactions, understand why you felt this way and thank yourself you didn’t send the passive aggressive email.
We are passionate about learning more about the interesting and unique ways to be mindful, reflective and more self-aware – granted we still have a way to go on this journey. But we have learnt that rather than just gulping down your coffee and running out the door, it’s essential that you tune in to yourself and the world around you!