Tea Happiness – Volunteering For Better Mental Health

Volunteering your time can help you with your mental health. By giving up your time to help those less fortunate or those working towards a brighter future can have an effect on your own happiness. It allows you to gain a sense of purpose if you have previously isolated yourself due to mental ill-health. You can find a sense of community through meeting new people and routinely spending time with them.

“Those who suffer with mental health conditions often become withdrawn or isolated and consequently experience a loss of social roles and thus social integration.” – Sane Charity

Thinking positively is a habit, learning to laugh and smile while struggling with a mental health condition can be near impossible some days. If you are struggling to find the positive in your life, volunteering will make a difference to someone else’s life. Seeing their smile or seeing the impact your time has had on someone else’s life is contagious. It’s living vicariously until you are able to create your own happiness again. Volunteering has a real effect on your sense of purpose and self-esteem.

You admire those who make the world a better place, if that’s you doing that work then surely you can admire yourself?

If not, then it will be a positive space for you to escape an otherwise difficult battle you may be facing.

My experience

I decided to volunteer to make some new friends and add some skills to my CV. It wasn’t a conventional way to volunteer, in fact, it’s a very niche and unique way I decided to spend my time.

I was the Social secretary of the Tea Society at the University of Bristol. Some of you might have responded to that with an “ooh how interesting” others might have given the same response as many did at university when I told them, which was “What do you even do? Just sit and drink tea? Where’s the fun in that?”

The tea society was a very niche topic that seemed to have gained the label “boring and quiet society” because no alcohol was involved. Traditionally societies were about lots of drinking and partying. So for me, this was the perfect opportunity. Too much alcohol made me very ill. There is a difference between a bad hangover and being bed-ridden for two days. So I decided getting drunk at society parties was not worth it! I wasn’t that keen on going clubbing anyway, it never was something I enjoyed doing. I needed to find another outlet for fun and stress relief instead.

When choosing how to volunteer your time you should ensure it is a genuine interest

I grew up in a house where “do you want a cup of tea?” and “yes” was not a clear enough answer. There were herbal, fruity, different types of chai or English. This was then followed by the opening of the cupboard with a huge array of teas on display and me pointing at the right box. I thought I would put that upbringing to use and introduce an interesting array of tea to the new freshers. I was shocked to find a locker full of PG tips. There is more to tea than that!

It was time to make tea fun, to step away from dainty tea parties and learn something new. I arranged a tea history talk and tasting at Boston Tea party, created a 10% discount card with independent and specialty tea shops in Bristol. Also, showing people a favorite local store to showcase that the meaning of tea isn’t as boring as everyone thought so.

TEAriffic fun!

Throughout my time as the Social Secretary, I created a space for those who weren’t into the conventional drinking side of University. We embraced our niche and found those with a similar passion. We worked together to encourage diversity by collaborating with other societies too. For example, we held a tea ceremony with the meditation society.

What was initially a “boring”, simple society, became a place of learning and culture. Had we had more funding we would have booked a Tea cocktail and mocktail making class at our local loose leaf tea shop. Maybe the next generation commitTEA took that on instead!

The Tea Society loved a good pun, they are TEAmendous fun to use!

The group was a joy to lead and it helped a niche group in society feel more welcome and included.

Don’t be scared to follow a niche passion, as you never know who else shares it. It could be quite a big industry, just lesser known to the public. Since the tea society I have visited the London Tea festival and gained insight into the massive industry and cultural heritage our simple English staple has associated with it.

I still mention my time volunteering for the tea society on my CV. I learned some valuable skills and shows great character traits.

To find volunteering opportunities in your area go to https://do-it.org/.

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About The Author

Alexandra Stumpp

A 2019 graduate of German from the University of Bristol, Alex is the Events and Marketing Assistant for Discover Your Bounce. She joined the team in March 2019 as an Intern and is now a full-time employee. Her expertise is in the study of cultures and languages. Being half Swiss and through her studies she speaks fluent German.