Friday, March 29, 2019

How Drinking Tea Makes Me a Better Librarian

Let's be honest here: sometimes the stereotypes can be true. I may not be old, and I dislike shushing people, but I have a deep love of cardigans (which are both warm and stylish), cats, and tea, and I do generally spend my Friday nights home reading a book (by choice, I swear!). On the other end of the stereotype spectrum, I do not have purple hair, but I do have one tattoo.

I would venture to say that the stereotypes exist because the things that so many people love are really amazing things! Take tea, for example. I can prove to you that drinking tea can make you an even better librarian.

Drinking tea can decrease stress

 The chemical compounds found in black tea have been proven, in a blind study by University College London, to decrease cortisol levels, which are an indicator of stress. The study noted that, "Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal.” So, it may not be able to help us from getting stressed, but it can fix it once we already are.

If you don’t like tea, that is also okay. While the compounds that have been proven to reduce stress are found in black tea, any hot drink can help, and making a mug of cocoa gives you healthy fats from milk – which helps stabilize blood sugar – and chocolate – which studies have shown helps reduce cortisol and raise endorphin hormones, which make you happy.

Can drinking tea make you a better librarian? 

Actually, yes! A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that holding a hot drink can make you friendlier. During the study, “participants who briefly held a cup of hot (versus iced) coffee judged a target person as having a ‘warmer’ personality (generous, caring).” So, if I am holding a warm mug, I will think everyone else is a better person. Despite our desires to treat every patron the same, the perception of a person as nicer than average makes it easier to go the extra mile for them in terms of service.

A special, dedicated mug can also help. “One clear signifier of humankind’s emotional dependence on hot drinks is the ubiquity of the special mug. We become attached to our own drinking vessel of just the right degree of chunkiness, weight, feel and hue, although heavier crockery generally makes its contents more satisfying.” Make sure you have your proper mug handy when you need it.

The ritual of making tea 

Mindfulness is a healthy trend, so you've probably heard all about clearing your mind and practicing being present in the moment. One of the ways that people can practice being mindful is directing your focus consciously onto a specific thing, be it an item or task that takes you away from the stress of the day. Making tea can be one such ritual – using your specific mug, procuring the hot water, selecting the tea, opening the tea bag, letting it steep, watching the color of the water change, feeling the warmth of the mug in your hands, and finally smelling and then tasting the beverage, and noticing the flavors and the warmth it provides. It gives you a break from the day, even if only for a few minutes, in which the entire point of the break is to create something that brings pleasure. Of course, this feeling can last well beyond the drinking of the tea itself.

If you prefer to have someone else make you a cup of tea, that’s okay, too. Participants in the University College London study above stated that someone else making them tea makes them feel loved, cared for, and valued.

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