Sip on These 7 Beverages to Relieve Stress

Jan 09, 2015

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    Drinks that Calm

    During holidays we merrily indulge in food, family, gifts, and yes, drinks. But romping on sugary, boozy beverages won't leave you going very long. Too much gaiety—wine, cocktails, and eggnog galore—will eventually bring you down, crashing energy levels and turning over your sleep. Sip what you may, but don’t fall victim to holiday cocktails. In fact, know this: If you imbibe the right beverages, you’ll see the opposite effect—a relaxing, de-stressing result. Here are eight calming drinks to try in your downtime—options that will keep you from flying off the handle during the holidays.

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    Green tea

    This powerful drink contains a brain-relaxing compound called theanine which reduces anxiety. Well L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that has a soothing, calming effect on people who drink it. Drinking green tea has been shown to stimulate production of brain waves known as alpha waves, which can be seen when a person is in a relaxed state. It also alters levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine that can affect moods.

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    According to the "Practical Guide to Natural Medicines," valerian has been used for 1000 years as a sedative and calmative agent. Its modern day uses include as a form of treatment for anxiety, promoting sleep, controlling panic attacks, as well as relieving headaches, menstrual cramps and digestive cramping. Valerian also helps relax the body. In Japan, it is a popular over-the-counter sedative. Valerian is one of the few herbal supplements that meet the rigorous U.S. standards, leading to it being given a rating of 1 on a scale of 1 to 5. This means that years of extensive, valid research indicate that valerian is very effective when used as intended.

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    Black Tea

    Drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life. Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing the stress hormone levels back to normal. This was found out through a study done by the University College London. Researcher Andrew Steptoe said, “This has important health implications, because slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease.”

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    Milk packs tryptophan—an amino acid that’s converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Elevated levels of serotonin improve your mood, which can keep you calm. Plus, calcium and magnesium help lower blood pressure. Warm milk can be even more calming since its temperature exerts a soothing effect like hot tea. But if you only like it cold, you’ll still reap the benefits. A protein found in milk is the latest treatment for stress. The protein, lactium, appears to have a calming effect on the body by lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone released when the body is stressed.

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    Chamomile, also known as manzanilla, has long been used as a home remedy to reduce stress, improve sleep, and alleviate complaints from colds to digestive upset to menstrual cramps. It is believed to contain more antioxidants than any other natural dietary source. Studies in animals have shown that chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system that anti-anxiety drugs do, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

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    If you’re looking for a simple way to unwind from your stress-filled life, drink a glass of water. The link between water and stress reduction is well-documented. All of our organs, including our brain, need water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running well and that can lead to stress. Studies have shown that being just half a litre dehydrated can increase your cortisol (stress hormones) levels. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down.

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    Vegetable Juice

    Make a juice with 2 handfuls of spinach, 3 to 4 stalks broccoli, 3 to 4 stalks celery, and 1 large or 2 small carrots. Spinach is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps elevate mood and promotes better sleep. It's also high in magnesium, which helps to relax nerves and muscles.

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