Anxiety & Encouragement
This one is going to be a little challenging for me, y’all. So bear with me if I ramble a bit.
I have pretty much always had issues with anxiety.
When I was 11 years old, my stomach hurt so bad on the way to school that my parents ended up taking me for an ultrasound to see if my appendix was about to rupture. It wasn't. It turns out, I was just experiencing my first bouts of consistent anxiety and I didn’t understand the signs that my body was sending me.
By age 12 I learned that the more people watched you, the more exposure for ridicule you had. So I learned to be quiet and still, to blend as much as possible to stop extra anxiety from being added.
At age 17 I was given medicine to take before giving speeches at school because my anxiety would consume my whole body and I wouldn’t be able to finish my presentations.
As college progressed, I learned to live with this constant companion and figured out ways to help calm my nervous system. It didn't go away, but I could negate some of the most obvious signs that I was in distress. I could finally present my art in front of my class for critique and be able to keep a level head – even if it required me to skip food before the class so I wouldn’t feel nauseous.
You can imagine the whole train-load full of anxieties and stresses that have come with owning and operating a small business. They are way too many to list here, but suffice it to say that I have been much more stressed in the last 5 years than ever before. It was an obstacle of entrepreneurship that I never saw coming, and one of the biggest hurdles for me to jump.
Having this much anxiety in you is not sustainable. It will kill you; soul and body.
So a few years ago I started to try new things to help level out the stress. I started to meditate. I tried reading for the last hour before bed. I exercised. I started eating more of the healthy, whole foods that I had chosen to ignore up until that point in my life. I planned travel. I allowed myself to fail and not dwell on it (too much).
But by far the thing that I started that I have consistently done in recent years to help with anxiety is drinking hot tea.
That’s right. Tea.
Let me be clear, it is not a miracle tea brand that alleviates my stress. No secret formula of herbs and roots that washes the demons in my brain away. It has not miraculously cured the mental illness that is anxiety. But it is the process and the practice of drinking the tea that has helped me so much in coping with the day-to-day. Let me explain.
For me, the act of choosing a mug is the first step. We have a large collection in our kitchen of all types of mugs – from our own designs, to our friend’s pottery, to mugs from all of our travels. All of them are handmade, and all of them are unique, and all of them have memories attached to them. I choose one that feels right for that day, grab my tea and add in the hot water.
From here, I have no choice but to wait 10-15 minutes for the tea to steep and the water to cool. This is a natural timer that allows me to do something – something not involving work or my phone. I will either journal, read, stretch or if the day is nice enough I will just sit out on our terrace and listen to the birds as the sun rises higher in the sky. Here recently, Carvel has joined me in my morning ritual and as we will get a chance to talk and connect (no shop-talk allowed). Once the tea is ready, I slowly sip on it, continuing whatever task I started. I breathe slowly and deeply. I will mentally recite my gratitudes. I will try to slow down my brain and make it focus on this moment as it is happening.
From this practice, I was inspired to make a new line of mugs. The idea first came to me a few years ago around Christmas. A few of my friends live very fast-paced lives and I had an idea for a gift that would help bring some of the peace that I get from my tea drinking into their days.
The solution was to put a message inside of their mug, on the rim facing them. It would be a secret message only for their eyes. A mantra to repeat when they take a drink. “You’ve got this”, it said. And they both loved it.
And so did I. An extra mug had been made, and I found myself taking it for my own use. I can honestly say that this mug has been the one that I reach for on hard days for several years just so I can have a little whisper of support while having my tea.
In light of the global pandemic that COVID-19 has brought on us, we are all more stressed than ever. A lot of people whom have never experienced stress and anxiety before are now trying to cope. I thought it was only fitting that I now release the first batch of these mugs for purchase – a line of three mugs that I call Mugs Of Encouragement.
These three mugs each have their own little helpful mantra stamped into them: “You’ve got this” – “Inhale. Exhale” – “Yes, you can.”
That last one I have heard time and time again from my wonderful instructors at The Barre as we are in the final hold of a hard set of exercises. When that doubt creeps in that says "I can’t", those three words of “yes, you can” can be extremely powerful. The mug’s shape was created with a two-handed, comforting hold in mind, with a thumb holder on the handle. Each saying is correlated to a different color combination, so you can have all three without having the same glazes on the outside.
With these mugs, you can have your own little cheerleader in your hands – without having your co-workers or clients be able to read it. It is your own hidden motivation to get you through another day – at work or at home. It is a message for you, and you alone.
These mugs won’t cure all your woes. They won’t make this global pandemic go away. But my sincerest hope is that they help you stay in the moment, remind you to take deep and meaningful breaths, and keep you in a peaceful mindset for at least the length of your morning tea or coffee. We will get through this, we will get through this together.
These mugs are available for purchase on our shop here!