Volunteering Special : Tea Happiness

Why volunteer?

When you volunteer your time you are making a positive difference in someone’s life. Seeing someone else happy, due to something you did can release a wave of happiness in the brain by increasing the levels of serotonin, otherwise known as the “happy hormone”.

Those struggling with their mental health have low serotonin levels. This can make them susceptible to isolating themselves from their friends and loved ones.

“Those who suffer from mental health conditions often become withdrawn or isolated and consequently experience a loss of social roles and thus social integration.”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

Volunteering allows you to feel connected to new people or your local community. During those days when you feel like you’re unable to increase your own happiness, by helping others it can get you out of the house and feeling more positive. Seeing their smiles or seeing the impact your time has had on other’s lives is contagious. It’s living vicariously which could have 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?

My experience

It wasn’t a conventional way to volunteer, in fact, it’s a very niche.

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?”

Traditionally societies were about going crazy with fellow freshers at parties and nights out. Others were sport-related or arts-related, and a lot of these societies involved lots of heavy drinking.

The tea society was a very niche topic that seemed to have gained the label “boring and quiet society” because no alcohol was involved. Although, you could argue a society of tea lovers are heavy “drinkers” in their own right. For me, this was the perfect opportunity because I never could drink very much alcohol at university. I was that “boring” person who was sipping on coke on a night out purely because lots of alcohol did not agree with me.

Why Tea?

I grew up in a house where “do you want a cup of tea?” and “yes” was not a good enough answer. There was herbal, fruity, spicy or English. This was then followed by the opening of the cupboard with a huge array of teas and me pointing at the right tea box. I thought I would put that upbringing to use and introduce an interesting array of tea to the new freshers. I was pretty shocked to find just hundreds of bags of PG tips in our society locker. English tea is great, but there is a whole world of tea out there!

Time for a change

It was time to make tea fun. To step away from dainty tea parties and to learn something new. I arranged a tea history talk and tasting at Boston Tea party. I created a 10% discount card with independent and specialty tea shops in Bristol and showed them my favorite local loose-leaf tea store, to showcase the wonderful world of tea.

Throughout my time as the tea society’s secretary, I created a space for those who weren’t into the conventional drinking side of the university societies. We embraced our niche and found those with a similar passion. We even worked together with the mediation society to hold a tea ceremony.

Horray for tea! 

Tea

What initially was a “boring”, simple society becoming a place of learning and culture. Had we had more funding we would have booked a Tea Mocktail making a session at our local loose leaf tea shop.

Either way, the group was a joy to lead with the other commitTEA members and it helped a niche group in society feel welcome.

Don’t be scared to follow your niche passion, as you never know who else shares it. It could be that it’s actually 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.

You’re never too old to learn something new. Be curious and explore a new side to this crazy world we live in.

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About The Author

Alexandra Stumpp

A 2019 graduate of German from the Univeristy 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 the study of cultures and languages. Being half Swiss and through her studies she speaks fluent German.