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  Why Warm Beverages are Comforting, According to Science
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Why Warm Beverages are Comforting, According to Science

Grab a cup of comfort and start reading

Rae Repanshek

If fall were a muffin, it would be pumpkin. If fall were a smell, it would be wet leaves. And if fall were a person, I’d marry it. 

Too much? I don’t think so. A girl can dream.

Though I have to admit, my energy drops a bit this time of year. It’s harder to get out of bed in the morning when it’s still pitch black outside, and I need the promise of a mug of :rise Cacao to lure me. (Shameless plug, I know. I'll take mine with oat milk, honey and cinnamon, please and thank you).

But this is the perfect time of year to indulge in warm beverages—it’s cooler, the days are shorter, and I can’t think of anything cozier than snuggling up with a mug of warm tea and a good book on a chilly fall afternoon. For me, that’s pure bliss. 

There’s something delightfully comforting about holding a warm drink in my hands. It seems to soften the world around me and just inhaling the steam can ease my nervous system. It’s an invitation to savor the moment. That’s one of the things I love about this time of year: everything starts slowing down.

But it’s not just all in my head. There are scientific reasons why warm drinks are so comforting. 

Hot Drinks Help You Warm up to Other People

Research suggests that physical warmth and emotional warmth are linked. 

One study conducted by folks from Yale University and the University of Colorado found that after holding a warm cup of coffee, participants were more likely to think the lab workers had warm personalities, as in they felt more open to connecting with them and found them more trustworthy. 

The reason, they say, may lie in a little-known region of the brain called the insula, or the insular cortex. The insula is a prune-sized section of the brain tucked between the temporal lobe and the parietal cortex that processes both physical temperature and interpersonal warmth.

Consider this the next time you’re heading out on a blind date or meeting with your boss. Meeting over tea may just warm you both up to the experience a little more. 

Hot Drinks May Remind You of Mom

On some subconscious level, that is. The same research found the mental association between physical warmth and psychological warmth may have started as early as the womb or at least during infancy, as we begin to associate warmth with shelter, safety and nourishment. 

This may be because warm sensations, including the feeling of holding a warm cup, can promote the release of the hormone oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the "cuddle hormone." This hormone is associated with feelings of comfort, relaxation and emotional bonding.

Another study found that touch is one of the first senses to develop in utero and by the third trimester, a baby is able to distinguish between hot and cold.

Considering we’re able to feel warmth before we’re even born, we may have been linking warm sensations to comfort for longer than we can even remember (literally).

Hot Drinks Can Help You Feel Better

When you’re feeling sick, you may automatically reach for hot tea. And that makes sense because there’s scientific evidence it will help you feel better. 

Studies show drinking a hot beverage provides immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness. 

So, if you’re like me and you start whining to your partner that you need to make grandma’s soup recipe whenever you start feeling sick, you’re definitely not alone and there’s scientific evidence it will help you feel better. Yes, that’s me giving you permission to whine. You’re welcome.

Hot Drinks Can Help You Relax

When hot liquids enter your body, they expand your blood vessels and improve circulation. Increased blood flow is linked to muscle relaxation. That increased blood flow can also help all your organs function more efficiently, improving digestion, which releases toxins from your body.

You know that “ahhhh” feeling after the first sip? That may be your body letting go of some tension. 

I know I already said this, but I love this time of year. I don’t need another excuse to drink a warm mug of my favorite MUD\WTR blend, but when I think of it as an opportunity to slow down, it becomes a truly meditative experience. 

I like to cradle that warm mug while I wait for the perfect sip-able moment. I close my eyes and feel the steam on my face. I tune in to the soft clink of my spoon as I stir, helping me ground in the present moment. 

It's not just that it tastes good—it's a full sensory experience. It's a pause in my day that reminds me, "Hey, I’m here, and that's an awesome place to be."

Rae is MUD\WTR's copywriter.

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