Already, more than half of Americans say they suffer health problems as a result of stress, while another 94 percent believe, rightly, that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.[i]
Yet, when stress occurs less than one-third of Americans say they are doing a very good job at managing or reducing it. And, as you might suspect, a large number (40 percent) say they have indulged in eating unhealthy foods simply because stress got the better of them.
It’s ironic, really, that stress often drives us to reach for sugary treats like ice cream and cookies, or savory ones like pizza and French fries, as these will only fan the fire further. What you need when you’re under stress are foods carefully chosen to support your body’s biological and emotional desire for calm, comfort and balance.
These foods do exist, and many of them are quite tasty. If you need stress relief yesterday, adding these 10 foods to your diet can help you get back to a state of zen.
Eat These 10 Foods for Stress Relief
Folic acid is a B vitamin known for its role in keeping your mood stabilized, and reducing feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability. Asparagus is an excellent source of this stress-busting nutrient.
Stress increases your body’s production of inflammatory hormones called cytokines. Healthy omega-3 fats, which are found in salmon, not only help reduce the production of cytokines but also have been found to cut stress and anxiety levels by up to 20 percent.[ii] Omega-3 fats have also been found to help boost mood and relieve depression.
Nuts are a rich source of magnesium (you can get close to 25 percent of your recommended daily value from eating just one-quarter cup of almonds), which is often called nature’s “stress buster.” This mineral not only helps your muscles relax and helps you cope with stress, it also can lead to headaches and fatigue if you don’t get enough — which will only make your stress worse. Spinach is another excellent source of magnesium.
Blueberries contain lots of antioxidants, including vitamin C. This nutrient has been found to help your body manage stress more effectively by reducing your body’s production of stress hormones.[iii] It may also help to boost your immune function so that you’re better able to fight of stress-related illnesses.
A lean hamburger or a grass-fed steak may be just the ticket when you’re feeling stressed, as beef is loaded with zinc, a mineral that helps keep your mood stabilized. Low zinc intake has been linked with higher measures of depressive symptoms, while eating more zinc may help to buffer the impacts of stress on your mood.[iv]
5. Whole Grains
A bowl of oatmeal or a slice of hearty whole-grain bread may give your mood a boost, as complex carbohydrates such as these may help to boost your serotonin levels, which are associated with positive mood. They also contain B vitamins, which are well known for helping to calm your nerves.
Mushrooms, such as crimini, portabella and white mushrooms, are an excellent source of the antioxidant selenium, which not only fights oxidative stress but low levels have been linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Next time you’re ordering sushi, add a seaweed salad to your order. These “veggies of the sea” are packed with iodine, too little of which can lead to depression and fatigue. It also contains stress-fighting magnesium and B vitamins, including pantothenic acid, which is so important for the health of your adrenal glands (pivotal in your body’s stress response) that it’s often known as the “anti-stress” vitamin.
A plate of steamed broccoli, or even some homemade cream of broccoli soup, helps zap stress and anxiety because it’s loaded with B vitamins like folic acid. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium, which may help with mood swings, depression, irritability and anxiety, particularly when it’s related to PMS (premenstrual syndrome).[v]
Cottage cheese gives you a hearty dose of both mood-stabilizing calcium and protein to help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Adding in some fruit, such as vitamin-C-rich oranges or berries, gives you extra protection against the chronic effects of stress, as the vitamin C helps inhibit the release of stress hormones.
How to Ease Your Stress by Harnessing the Power of the Sun …
You know how good it feels when the sun warms your skin? It’s like getting a warm hug that instantly soothes away your stress, anxiety and worry.
This is because of a specific wavelength of light known as far-infrared rays (FIR). Unlike ultraviolet rays that are associated with sunburn and skin cancer, FIR is safe and will not burn your skin. What it will do is penetrate deep into your body, and while you cannot see FIR with your naked eye, you can feel it as a source of heat.
The thermal effect of deep heat on your tissues causes blood vessels in capillaries to dilate, which improves blood circulation and promotes pain-relief healing and stress-relieving feelings of wellness.
We don’t all have access to a warm sunny spot 24/7 of course, which is why everyone should own a Far Infrared Heating Pad, which allows you to harness the relaxing, healing power of the sun anytime you wish.