Walking this Borderland #3: Good things happen over tea



Please read Walking…#1: Introduction before this or any other post in this Series. Thank you.


Good things happen over tea. I saw that quote on a gift mug today. It’s true. Perhaps I’m particularly English 😉 though it’s my coffee I really can’t get through a day without!

This one follows quite well from#2 and is another way of practising grounding and mindfulness.

If it’s not too wet a day, I like to sit outside for a few minutes with my tea. I don’t mind if it’s cold – I wrap up well and the nip in the air adds to the sensations that keep me rooted in the present.

I hold the cup. Enjoy the smell. Watch the delicate progress of the steam wafting upwards and maybe feel it on my cheeks if it’s a particularly cool day. I sip slowly and really enjoy the flavour and the comfort the warm milky drink brings inside.

Then I turn my attention further outwards. A good place to start, I’m told,  is to name 3 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell. Sometimes I start there and then go on to appreciate in detail something in my familiar surroundings. For example, how many different shades of green / gold / brown are there in the big tree opposite my flat? Count them. What shape are its leaves? Are there fewer today,  if it has been windy?

By this time, if I was feeling okay when I started I may be feeling calm enough to try some slow breathing exercises. If I was in a state of very high emotion, turning my attention outwards in this small way may have been enough to just slightly take me away from the extreme, to a place I can be a bit further from acting on dangerous impulses.

Ginny xx

4 thoughts on “Walking this Borderland #3: Good things happen over tea

    1. Personally I find that to be an interesting one. Yes I would say that it can help however it can be hard to reach the state in which it does help. When you are in the middle of a panic attack, or very distressed, or otherwise overwhelmed by a consuming emotion where a heightened state of feeling may be lasting a long time, it can be really hard to be able to take any control of your breathing. I think that when you are that distressed, you may even justifiably feel very angry if someone says ‘just focus on your breathing’ or similar, because you wonder how that could possibly help when you are so very hurt and overwhelmed. It won’t take away the feeling or the hurt or make everything better. However, it can be grounding and can help centre you in the here and now (thus bringing you out of re-experiencing a painful memory, for example). One tip I was given when I was an inpatient is that it is good to practice simple breathing exercises when you are feeling well and happy and stable, so that they become very familiar and so that you can notice the relaxation and feeling of being grounded that they bring. This practice will make it easier to use them when you are in distress and you will have a clearer picture, perhaps, of the good that they can bring.
      If I am very distressed I don’t go to breathing exercises first because it is too difficult. I probably do something like counting backwards from 100, counting colours I can see, or using something to shock my system out of the distress, such as putting my hand under very cold water or tasting something bitter (if I haven’t mentioned taste in a post before I will do another post on that particular technique). These have a more immediate effect and are readily accessible. After these have taken some effect, then I may try breathing techniques. That’s just what I personally find helpful – another member of my therapy group goes first to breathing exercises and finds them extremely helpful.

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