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ANXIE-TEA: What is it about warm drinks that helps to calm the nerves?

Anyone who suffers from anxiety to any degree will know the difference that simply putting the kettle on can make.

The very action is almost (almost!) as soothing as the resultant tea itself, since it forces a break in the physical and mental ‘busyness’ that can lead to feelings of overwhelm. But what is it about tea, or warm drinks in general, that helps to soften the nerves? There has always been a lot of focus on the components of tea (and their biochemical actions against anxiety), but not so much research into the thermal element (apart from this study). Could heat be partly behind that calming effect that ‘cuppa’ fans swear by in times of stress? It’s quite likely... Here’s why:

1️⃣Hot drinks, by all accounts, HAVE to be consumed slowly, so your pace adapts accordingly. 2️⃣Hot drinks stimulate the thermosensors in the oesophagus and stomach, which then has a warming effect throughout the body, helping reduce systemic tension and feelings of anxiety.

3️⃣The calming effect of hot drinks may relate to maternal/childhood associations of warmth and comfort, suggest some studies. This potentially makes the rationale behind putting the kettle on a lot deeper than you might first think!

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