Telling a lie, starting a fight, or not going on that family vacation can plague us with remorse and guilt. We're unable to shake this feeling of regret, and as a result, put ourselves down for our mistakes. Now, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggests we can drink our regret away with a cold beverage to reduce these uncomfortable emotions.

Researchers from Western University in Canada found evidence "emotions and temperature go hand in hand, and we can potentially use this information to regulate emotions."

The relationship between the temperature of food and beverages and emotions has been found to be one of cause and effect. For example, in a 2008 study in Science, researchers tested whether the warmth of a drink influenced perceptions of others after noting how often "warm" and "cold" were used to describe their personalities. Holding a warm cup of coffee was enough to make people think strangers are more welcoming and trustworthy; a cold drink had the opposite effect.

In other words, the physical sensation of warmth encourages emotional warmth, while a cold drink in hand serves as a halt on rash decisions.

Researcher Jeff Rotman and his colleagues were interested in discovering whether feelings of regret are associated with a certain physical response in the body, and how this affected an individual's drink of choice, and then designed a series of experiments to test the questions.

In one experiment, researchers asked participants to recall a situation in which they regretted something they had done, also known as "an action regret," such as sending an angry text. The other group of participants recalled something they regretted not doing, known as an "inaction regret," such as not pursuing a college education. Participants from both groups then answered questions about the types of emotions they were feeling after remembering their regrets.

Those who recalled an action regret experienced an increase in self-conscious feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and remorse.

“These emotions have been linked to blushing, which is associated with feelings of warmth," said Rotman, in a statement.

In the following experiment, the participants were given different warm and cold drinks, including hot chocolate or coffee versus iced latte, ice cream, or cold Gatorade. Those who were feeling shame and embarrassment were more likely to choose the colder drinks. Participants in the "warm state" (i.e., blushing), who felt self-conscious emotions, were motivated to cool off.

Rotman and his colleagues wondered if making people feel colder would help reduce their feelings of regret. To test their hypothesis, participants were asked to hypothetically invest in pharmaceutical stock; the stock value increased for some, but decreased for others. Then, the participants viewed advertisements for either a Caribbean summer cruise or arctic Alaskan cruise. Unsurprisingly, people felt less regret about their bad investments after viewing the Alaskan cruise advertisement.

“If you are in a warm environment and do something that you regret, you might feel worse about it than if you were in a colder environment" said Rotman.

Or, if we're feeling regret or shame, we're more likely to desire a glass of cold water to help us cool off from our warm state.

This study argues emotional concepts can be influenced by physical experiences. Regret leads to a change in psychological temperature, motivating individuals to fix that change by consuming items that are perceived to be physically or psychologically opposite in temperature. Typically, emotional responses to experiencing regret are negative. Therefore, physical coldness could be used to alleviate these negative emotions.

The ability to move on from regret can help ward away potential mental health issues. Past research has found a connection between regret and both anxiety and depression. Using temperature may provide a way to assist with regret-induced mental health issues, and improve overall well-being.