A calming cup: Why drinking tea for stress and anxiety can be helpful

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated January 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you're living with stress and anxiety disorder-related symptoms, achieving calmness and contentment in your life might feel overwhelming. 

While everyone can respond to stress and anxiety disorder-related symptoms differently, stress can have a significant negative impact on both physical and mental health. 

Treatments for stress and anxiety can include therapy, medication and more. However, there are also a few simple herbal ingredients that can be commonly found in teas that can have a helpful effect for those living with mental health conditions or under strain. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, a calming cup of tea could go a long way to supporting a higher quality of life.

Read on to learn more about anxiety disorders, management techniques and how tea can help to mitigate the effects of stress and strain.

Anxiety disorders and the body: A guide 

Anxiety and stress can have both mental and physical effects upon the body. Mental symptoms can include excessive worrying, feeling restless and a persistent feeling of guilt. 

Physical symptoms can range from jitters and muscle tension to changes in sleep patterns, loss or increase in appetite and even physical pain in the form of cramps, aches and soreness. 

These symptoms can have a profound negative impact on everyday life, and are generally unique to the person living with the condition. Supportive strategies, such as online therapy, natural products and medication can help.

Treating symptoms of anxiety disorder

We do want to note: The best treatment options generally vary depending on the individual's needs.

Taking care of both your body and mind can be a challenging task—but many can often see improvements in mental and physical symptoms after developing healthy habits and implementing positive lifestyle changes. 

Before trying anything new, it’s generally recommended that you speak with your medical care team and practitioner. They can help you to choose the best possible solutions and strategies for your unique needs. 

Camellia sinensis and anxiety disorder relief 

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While we often refer to a broad spectrum of warm drinks as "tea," true tea generally comes from the camellia sinensis plant, known to many as a species of camellia that has been grown and harvested to produce tea for hundreds of years. 

Many scholars and enthusiasts agree that it was first grown in rocky, mountainous regions of China and India—and is now grown in countries throughout Asia and across the globe for wider distribution and impact.

When most people think of the active ingredients in tea made from the camellia sinensis plant, they might think of caffeine. However, the tea plant also contains l-theanine—known to many as a chemical compound that can help fight symptoms of anxiety disorders while promoting a sense of overall well-being. 

Researchers have found details that suggests that l-theanine helps to stimulate alpha waves in the brain, possibly promoting a sense of calm and relaxation even during stressful situations.

Teas, including black, green, oolong, white, purple and pu-erh, can all help fight symptoms of anxiety disorders and stress overall. Since many teas also contain caffeine, the combination of the caffeine and l-theanine is generally thought to produce clarity and focus that can help soothe the mind and increase mental performance. L-theanine found in these teas can help to combat both physical and mental symptoms of anxiety disorders.

In short, no matter what kind of teas you enjoy drinking, all tea made from the camellia sinensis plant can have a positive effect on your mental health, helping to curb stress and anxiety and promote relaxation and wellbeing.

Herbal teas and anxiety disorders: How can they help? 

While teas made from the camellia sinensis plant can have potent anxiety-reducing properties, herbal teas and infusions can also have a diverse array of positive benefits when it comes to stress and anxiety disorders. 

Many herbal teas also can contain more than one of the beneficial ingredients listed below, possibly compounding their range of positive effects. While research into the effectiveness of various herbs and spices in treating anxiety disorders is still ongoing, preliminary studies suggest that consuming herbal tea with these ingredients can have a positive effect.

Rose

Rose petals can be added to many kinds of tea and impart a floral, slightly sweet flavor to whatever tea they mix with. Rose teas can range from subtle black blends to fruity, floral concoctions and everywhere in between. 

Rose can help many to reduce feelings related to stress and anxiety disorders, possibly promoting calmness and relaxation overall. Generally, roses grown specifically for consumption can have a more concentrated flavor and beneficial properties. However, even common garden roses can have similar effects when dried and infused in water.

Lavender

Like rose, lavender is generally known to be another common floral addition to teas and tisanes. Lavender has been scientifically suggested to have a positive effect on anxiety disorder-related symptoms by promoting healthy sleep patterns and relaxation without a significant sedative effect. 

This can be impactful, as those experiencing stress and anxiety disorders can experience disturbed sleep patterns and lack of sleep. Additionally, lavender can help to promote general physical and mental wellbeing and has a pleasant, soothing floral flavor. 

Lavender can be found in a wide range of different teas, from floral black teas to specially concocted "sleepy time" blends.

Chamomile

Chamomile is another ingredient common to many herbal teas that can have a potent relaxing effect. 

Chamomile has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to treat many ailments, from sore throats to mental health conditions. Recent studies have indicated that chamomile can help reduce pain, promote sleep and decrease the physical and mental symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Whether you have a soothing cup before bed or start your day with a pot of tea, chamomile can be a great choice for stress relief support!

Mint

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Mint is another common herbal tea addition that can be used to promote physical relaxation and well-being. Mint can help promote digestive health, soothe pain and aid in stress-relief efforts for many. It can be found in a variety of tea blends and can also be consumed on its own as a cooling, refreshing drink. If you prefer iced tea, most mint teas are also excellent served cold. 

Tea and stress relief

Whether it's true tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant or an herbal infusion, tea can have a wealth of benefits that can help fight the symptoms of anxiety and stress and promote peace of mind and relaxation. 

While the compounds contained in tea and herbs have been shown to have a positive effect in treating mental health issues, the ritual surrounding tea can be just as significant in terms of improving symptoms of stress and anxiety disorders. 

The ritual in a cup of tea

In traditional tea ceremonies in Japan, China and elsewhere in Asia, tea preparation and service has been perfected into an art. Traditional Japanese matcha ceremonies have developed into an elaborate ritual of intention, focus and meditation for many. 

Moments of zen

Even if you don't prepare tea according to a time-honored ceremony, the simple act of heating water, measuring leaves and steeping tea can be a welcome interlude in a busy, stressful day. 

Whether you brew a pot each morning and take some time to focus on yourself at the beginning of the day, or prepare a soothing cup to relax and unwind before bed, just the act of preparing and drinking tea can be a source of calm and relaxation.

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Additional support: How can online therapy help to reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders? 

Are you experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety-related disorders? In addition to lifestyle changes and the medicinal properties found in tea and herbs, you might benefit from additional mental health treatment. Many individuals living with stress and anxiety disorders have turned to online therapy for help and support. Many find the service to be both affordable and convenient, possibly reducing the barriers to entry and treatment. 

BetterHelp offers a diverse selection of online therapist that can provide you the help you need to manage your mental health.

Is online therapy effective?

Online cognitive behavior therapy has scientifically suggested to be effective at providing strategies for coping with many different mental health issues, including anxiety disorders and stress-related conditions.

A recent meta-analysis published in Depression and Anxiety found details that suggests that online therapy is equally as effective as in-person therapeutic services. It also suggested that favorable outcomes lasted well after treatment was over, possibly indicating that permanent or long-lasting can be changed with consistent use of the modality. 

Takeaway

Anxiety disorders can feel overwhelming to address. However, there are many different supportive strategies available to address symptoms. Many might find comfort in settling down over a cup of soothing herbal tea, or by speaking with a licensed online therapist. Studies suggest that online therapy can offer similar gains when compared with in-person therapeutic intervention. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.
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