I never was a tea drinker. Until I was.
Tea makes no sense to me. I don’t see the appeal. Why drink something that tastes like hot flowers when you can have robust, delicious coffee?
But last month, when a cold that turned into a sinus infection had me confined to my bed with a bottle of antibiotics on my nightstand and heating pad on my face, a friend recommended a cup of tea. “Cures all that ails ya!” Throw in some frigid temps, and it was starting to sound pretty good. So I made a cup of hot flower juice and squirted in some honey so I could stomach it.
It didn’t cure my sinus infection, which I didn’t expect. In fact, I’m still suffering from pressure in my head and googling things like, “Sinus infection vs. meningitis,” and “Can sinus infections kill you?” The answers to those questions are “They’re more similar than you might think,” and “Anything is possible!” But the tea habit stuck. I make a cup almost nightly.
This is surprising, because I struggle with habits and creating routines, self improvement be damned. I tell myself I’ll journal daily, just a sentence or two, but before I know it it’s been two months almost to the day, and the only reason I open my journal is to dump out my latest existential crisis. (Lest you think I only have an existential crisis every two months, I can assure you it’s much more often than that. Many go undocumented.)
I tell myself I’ll stick to my workout routine, and I will, until life gets too busy, I have a deadline, or someone gets sick.
I tell myself I’ll open my sketchbook each afternoon and draw, but I’ll almost always choose dishes or laundry or some other task that “must be done.”
It takes effort to create habits, to do more than just careen through my days on autopilot. And it’s easy to break form when life gets overwhelming. The routine of checking in with friends or family gives way to the routine chaos of daily life. This week alone the chaos involved school-related activities, deadlines for a book review and a newsletter, and buckets upon buckets of snot.
I fall out of the habit doing things I know are good for me, out of the habit of connecting with loved ones, and like my journal or my workout routine, I’ll realize it’s been months since I’ve connected with people I consider dear to me.
Why was my tea habit so easy and everything else so hard? I mean, if I can become a habitual drinker of something that I still don’t think really even tastes all that good, I can become anything, right?
Let’s be honest, making a nightly cup of tea is ridiculously simple. Put the kids to bed, grab a mug, open a tea bag, and run some hot water from the Keurig. Then carry piping hot tea to bedroom and climb into bed and scroll through my phone for an hour. (I know. One self-improvement topic at a time please.) I don’t even have to drink it. The ritual is in the making.
Maybe the creation of a habit doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Maybe it’s a gradual process. Maybe I can document my near-daily existential crises in the evenings when I would usually be mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Maybe I just need to change clothes before I get a chance to talk myself out of working out and into snuggling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book. Maybe I just need to sit in front of my blank sketchbook for 15 minutes or so each day, even if I don’t end up placing pencil to paper.
I mean, maybe like I make the effort to start up the Keurig for my now nightly cup of hot flower juice, I need to make a little more effort to see if these new habits will in fact be life changing. And if they’re not? Well, it’s safe to say I won’t have a problem breaking those routines.