This Is The Surprising Habit A Neuroscientist Swears By To Ease Anxiousness
You might be stunned by the stress-relieving tools neuroscientist and author of Good Anxiety Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., keeps close by. Yes, she's a fan of popular interventions, like breathwork and physical activity, to help calm anxious thoughts—but she also relies on a few simpler, yet just as powerful, go-to methods.
To keep those heightened emotions at bay, Suzuki turns to the kitchen: She blends up a green smoothie (we've discussed the details here), and she meditates over tea. "I do a tea meditation, which is meditation over the brewing and drinking of tea," she says on the mindbodygreen podcast.
How tea meditations can help ease anxiousness.
This ritual actually dates back thousands of years in Japanese culture: During a traditional tea ceremony, individuals prepare and serve matcha tea, treating each movement with the utmost focus and attention. It's a spiritual, meditative act meant to ground you in the moment—and Suzuki finds it particularly relaxing. Research does, too: One randomized controlled trial also found that participants who drank tea "treated" with good intentions had improved mood1 compared to those who did not have any mindful ties to their beverage.
The intense focus during a tea ceremony is also important for brain health in general. When you multitask, your attention becomes compromised, and keeping your attention sharp is key for optimizing brain function as you age. "It's not about drinking tea or the pot—it's about the act of going through that in detail, in focus, and in a meditative state," notes neurologist Dean Sherzai, M.D., during another mbg podcast episode.
And let's not forget the data around the tea itself: Preliminary animal studies show matcha may have stress-reducing properties2—although more research is needed to confirm similar effects in humans. It's no wonder Suzuki finds her tea time so restorative, and she even claims engaging with tea ceremonies online can offer the same (albeit, slightly diluted) effect. "All these people show these wonderful videos of tea being poured in a beautiful cup," she says. "I see a lot of that on my feed, which I find very relaxing."
Tea itself is rich in antioxidants that can support brain health, but the kicker for alleviating anxiousness is to place intention over your brew. It's about creating a moment of simplicity, where you think of nothing else but the act of tea-making. Who knows—the stillness alone may calm you down.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.