What to Drink to Calm Anxiety: Beverages to Soothe Your Mind
An increasingly large number of people report having to deal with significant amounts of stress and anxiety in their daily lives.
From our hectic schedules and work-life balance to the increasingly precarious developments in the world, it’s really no wonder we’ve gotten more and more anxious over the past few years.
Fortunately, there are plenty of organic solutions to this problem. Many assume that issues like anxiety can only be remedied through medication, therapy, or major lifestyle changes, and while all those things can have a big impact, so can a change in diet.
There are plenty of healthy, organic foods and drinks that can not only supercharge your health but also give your body the chance to throttle down a little and relieve itself of some of the daily stressors that can cause lasting mental and physical anxiety.
Common Causes of Stress and Anxiety
The first step to addressing your anxiety is to understand where it comes from.
Ultimately, anxiety is a very widespread symptom that can arise from plenty of potential causes. Your individual experience might very well differ from somebody else’s, and theirs might yet again be entirely different from that of someone you know.
Still, we can generalize just enough to be able to narrow down some of the most common leading causes of feelings of anxiety in the long term.
Very often, anxiety is our bodies' reaction to our environment. If there’s an element in your daily surroundings that constantly brings you down or makes you feel uncomfortable, it might lead to anxiety.
For example, we can often “catch” anxiety from the people closest to us if they are dealing with similar issues, such as stress or depression.
If you’re in a fast-paced working environment where deadlines are set tight and everyone is always rushing to avoid negative feedback, you might even subconsciously acquire some degree of anxiety as a reaction to the stress that surrounds you.
Environmental causes don’t have to be something that you actively confront every single day, either. They can also take the form of a general situation, a state of things – or an aspect of your quality of life.
If you live in poverty or have faced abuse at home, for instance, you are much more likely to develop chronic anxiety over the long term. The same goes for experiences or worries of financial instability – arguably one of the leading causes of anxiety worldwide.
Anxiety can also have genetic factors – these are often hard to determine and the science on this topic is still not quite clear, but it might help explain why some people are much more prone to anxiety than others. We do know that women are much more likely to experience severe cases of anxiety compared to men.
Most of us also have specific stressors that can trigger bouts of anxiety depending on the social or environmental situation. For example, many get stressed or anxious when they have to perform in front of a crowd, such as in public speaking or when delivering a presentation at work.
Some people also experience anxiety as a symptom of an underlying medical condition, or as a result of certain types of prescription medication. Substance abuse is often linked to anxiety, though the relationship between the two tends to be fairly complex.
The bottom line is that even little triggers of anxiety can compound and over time generate a much more serious problem.
Health Risks of Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can do much more than just make you feel bad. Especially in more severe cases, they can lead to serious risks to your mental and physical health.
Chronic anxiety disorders, left untreated, can lead to recurrent panic attacks, irritability, and memory problems. You are also at a much higher risk of developing other mental illnesses, such as clinical depression, if you’re suffering from anxiety.
Physical health risks include cardiovascular problems such as irregular heart rate or trouble breathing (particularly during panic attacks). Many people report gastrointestinal problems as well, which can range from a loss of appetite and trouble eating to the development of irritable bowel syndrome.
You might also develop localized pains in certain areas of your body that last for a long time, such as stinging in the stomach area, or a sharp pull in your joints.
Because chronic anxiety can elevate blood pressure, you also run the risk of weak, tense muscles, feelings of dizziness, as well as feelings of constant fatigue, and low libido.
Does Alcohol Help Calm Anxiety?
If there’s anything that classic film noir has taught us, it’s that a bottle of whiskey is the ultimate coping method and antidote for nearly any kind of mental burden or stress.
But is there actually a kernel of truth to the idea of drinking yourself into a state of calm?
In the short term, alcohol is indeed pretty effective at calming you down. Essentially working as a depressant, it calms the nerves and slows large parts of our metabolism down to a crawl.
Since anxiety often does the opposite – elevating our heart rate, blood flow, and other cycles to the point of damaging them – this is fundamentally a good thing.
Alcohol can also promote the release of dopamine into the bloodstream. You might recognize dopamine as the “feel-good hormone” – and indeed, more dopamine generally goes hand-in-hand with a calmer, happier state of mind.
However, alcohol as a treatment for anxiety comes with more risks than it’s worth.
That dopamine release might work wonders on you for a while – but eventually, you can only have so much of a good thing, and it’s bound to run out.
When it does, your body is going to crash. Your mood can very suddenly flip and you’ll begin to feel groggy, foggy, and yes – anxious, too. Large amounts of alcohol are also more likely to lead to a hangover, which can leave you feeling out of energy and jittery for most of the following day or even longer.
When you take into account how easy it is to develop a dependency over the long term, alcohol really doesn’t look like a viable natural remedy against anxiety. Although it might provide relief in the very short term, it should only be used in moderation, if at all.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Anxiety
When your anxiety derives from environmental stressors, lifestyle changes – even small ones – can have an impact that reaches much farther than what you might expect.
While everyone’s case is different and only a health professional will be able to tell you what exact steps are appropriate for you, we can still examine some common methods and lifestyle changes that are often implemented to reduce anxiety.
In many cases, sleep and a healthy mind and body go hand in hand. This is no different with anxiety, where both your sleep schedule as well as the number of hours of shut-eye you get each night greatly contribute to the development of your condition.
Sleep allows us not just to recharge, but it also plays an important role in balancing out our hormonal household. Time and time again, research has shown that those who practice good quality sleep are far less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
Likewise, exercise can make a huge difference in your quality of life. It goes much further than shedding unwanted pounds and improving your body image – exercising in any form also releases plenty of hormones that improve your mood, both in the long as well as the short term.
Mindful types of exercise that are great for de-stressing and lowering anxiety include yoga, tai chi, and light cardio.
Everyone’s different, so for some, even strength training or higher-intensity exercise such as kickboxing might do the trick. The key is to find something that makes you feel comfortable and motivates you to keep going.
Even walking or hiking regularly can make a big difference! As long as you make an effort to move your body, you are on the right track already.
As mentioned before, you’d also do yourself a huge favor by quitting alcohol consumption if you drink regularly. Despite the sweet relief it can bring, it is dangerous and risky over the long term and can only make things worse.
In cases of severe anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation, and other mental habits aimed at re-wiring your subconscious thought patterns have also proven effective for many people.
If there is something specific that is causing you anxiety in your life, for example, a draining, emotionally taxing job, then you might want to re-evaluate your priorities and see whether it’s possible to restructure parts of your routine to better accommodate your mental health.
This can mean changes both big and small – but in the end, the most important thing is to face your anxiety head-on and acknowledge it as an important aspect of your health and well-being.
What to Drink to Calm Anxiety
Naturally, your diet also has a big influence on your mental health. This includes the likelihood of developing symptoms of anxiety, and there is a lot you can do to manage that accordingly.
Cortisol, known as the “stress hormone”, contributes significantly to our inner sense of calm and affects how our body manages resources. Elevated cortisol can cause us to feel restless, hurting our sleep, making us gain weight and pack on stress and anxiety.
There are plenty of healthy foods that can help you keep cortisol levels in check. For example, omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish and most kinds of seafood are excellent at stabilizing cortisol.
But it’s not only about solids, either. Healthy drinks can make just as important of an impact.
This is especially true when you consider that the majority of us, statistically speaking, consume a lot of empty calories through the things we drink every day without being entirely aware of it.
This includes, more often than not, huge amounts of sugar and other sweeteners often added to juices, energy drinks, and so on.
It will likely not be a surprise to hear that sugar really doesn’t jive well with cortisol levels. Hence, cutting out those soft drinks and replacing them with healthier options should be your top priority if you want to get your body closer to a state of equilibrium.
So, how do you take your diet to the next level and improve your moods through healthy drinking habits? It’s easier than you might think!
There are plenty of healthy, yummy ingredients you can add to your daily dose of tea or coffee for a health boost. You can also prepare a nice morning smoothie or shake with them for an even stronger organic pick-me-up!
One of the most potent natural anxiety remedies you should definitely put on your list right away is ginger. Ginger tea has been a staple in traditional medicine for centuries, and the reason why is no big mystery!
Apart from providing plenty of healthy antioxidants and calming the gastrointestinal system, ginger is also a powerhouse when it comes to managing moods. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system, sharpening the mind and even going so far as to improve short-term memory function.
Enjoy ginger by using it to make tea, as a ginger tonic, or adding it as a condiment to your favorite foods! There are also concentrated ginger supplements for those who really want to take things to the next level.
Maca root is another amazing option for managing anxiety naturally. While maca is not as well-known in most parts of the world as some of its relatives, it is no less powerful by any means.
Originally grown in Peru, the maca root has been used for generations as a natural remedy and as an aphrodisiac. Studies suggest that maca supports cardiovascular performance, giving it potential as an exercise supplement, while also balancing hormones in the bloodstream.
Maca is rich in flavonoids, unique chemical compounds that have been linked to lower levels of stress and better mood regulation. This might be part of what makes maca so effective in managing anxiety.
Teas have been used to manage anxiety since at least 2,000 BCE when ancient Chinese poets and rulers wrote about their benefits. Almost all kinds of tea are great for treating stress and anxiety because they physically calm your nerves and supply your body with lots of healthy micronutrients. A longtime fan favorite is chamomile, for instance – others may prefer herbal teas for taste.
However, one, in particular, stands out as among the most potent, and that is matcha green tea.
Making matcha might be different and more involved than the type of teas you’re used to – but the benefits far outweigh the learning curve. In addition to plenty of flavonoids and other unique ingredients, matcha contains L-theanine, which relaxes you and eases stress and pain.
Despite containing much more caffeine than other forms of tea, matcha provides an entirely crash-free experience, so you don’t need to worry about harsh side effects when winding down.
Sometimes, our anxiety can seem debilitating when it comes along with a general lack of energy.
Just as exercise is one of the best ways to treat anxiety symptoms in the long run, remaining sedentary for too long can keep you trapped in a vicious cycle of anxiety.
A perfect way to overcome this is with the help of an energizing drink, such as apple cider vinegar. Believe it or not, apple cider vinegar is actually one of your best healthy options for balancing blood sugar levels, which improves your ability to stay on your feet.
It also contains a few essential minerals that further boost your health and help your cardiovascular system stay strong and active.
Of course, there’s no forgetting about good, old, clean water. Staying hydrated is ultimately the most important thing you can do – and it’s far more important than what exactly you drink in the long run!
Water is what our bodies were made for, and as such, it hydrates us better than just about anything else. Research has shown that even slight dehydration can easily lead to negative changes in mood, including feelings of depression or anxiety.
Reishi Mushroom Benefits: Anxiety
There is one exceedingly powerful anxiety remedy that is unfortunately not talked about nearly as much as some of our recommendations above.
Because it is so little-known, we decided to dedicate this whole following section of our guide to this supplement alone – read on, it’s definitely worth it!
The hidden gem we’re referring to is called the reishi mushroom, also known as the lingzhi in its native China. Grown and harvested both for culinary and therapeutic purposes there since Classical times, it is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs in the world.
Despite its lack of international prestige, the reishi mushroom is actually not that rare and grows in most temperate forests around the world. It is easy to spot thanks to its distinctive reddish-brown, fan-shaped appearance.
In the end, the real appeal of reishi is its various adaptogenic effects. A real powerhouse, reishi is nutritionally far more diverse and more potent than many other superfoods – even compared to other mushrooms, it looks impressive!
Below is only a slice of the many powerful health benefits and effects of the reishi. We invite you to read more to find out everything there is to know about this fascinating fungus!
A powerful source of antioxidants, reishi is also highly anti-inflammatory. This alone can contribute to lower levels of stress, but reishi goes further by also engaging the immune system, calming the nerves, improving sleep quality, and more!
All in all, this makes reishi one of the absolute best supplements for reducing anxiety and calming the mind, period. Commonly available in the form of powdered supplements, you might also find raw reishi at your local food retailer.
Experiment by adding reishi to some of your existing recipes, or use reishi mushroom powder in teas, smoothies, or shakes.