What is stress? Stress is the body adjusting to change. We all experience this either physically, mentally or emotionally. It is an normal part of life. Many events in life create this. Stress stems from your thoughts, your body or from your environment. We are designed to experience stress and react to it. Not all stress is negative. Some stress can be positive, keeping you alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress only becomes negative when a person faces continual stress without rest.
Although you may not realize it, stress affects your health. Here are some common side affects of stress.
How stress affects your body:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Upset stomach
- Sleep problems
- Elevated blood pressure
How Stress affects your mood:
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
How stress affects your behavior
- Over eating or under eating
- Anger outburst
- Drugs or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- There are several ways to manage stress. A number of these things have great health benefits.
Explore stress management strategies such as:
- Physical activity
- Relaxation techniques
- Being creative
- Laugh more
- Get more sleep
- Eat a balance diet
- Avoid alcohol or drugs
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid sugar
There are several foods that lower stress in the body. Certain foods are proven to boost levels of serotonin, a calming and feel good brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones levels in the body. Eating a health diet can counter stress by boosting the immune system and help to lower blood pressure.
- Complex carbs: help produce serotonin and stabilizes blood sugar. Example: Whole grain- non processed foods such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, yam, rice cakes, old fashion oatmeal, whole bread/sprouted breads and pastas.
- Asparagus: This green veggie is high in folic acid and can help stabilize your mood.
- Oranges: Have a ton of vitamin C. Studies have showed that this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system.
- Spinach: Magnesium is key here. Not eating enough magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue making stress worse. If you’re not a spinach eater, try soybeans or filet of salmon which are also high in magnesium.
- Fatty Fish: This stuff is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and can be found in fish such as Salmon and tuna. It can prevent higher stress hormones and may help protect against heart disease, and mood disorder.
- Black tea: Drinking black tea has been proven to help your recover from stressful events more quickly. Tea drinkers feel calmer and have lower levels of cortisone levels. Coffee with caffeine can boost stress hormones and raise blood pressure.
- Pistachios: Pistachios as well as all other seeds and nuts are good source of healthy fats. Eating a handful of these foods everyday helps to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of diabetes and helps protect yourself against the effects of stress. Be careful though, nuts are rich in calories so don’t over do it.
- Avocados: This fruit is loaded with potassium and reduces high blood pressure. Avocados are high in fat and calories, so watch your portion size.
- Raw Veggies: Crunch raw veggies can ease stress in a mechanical way. Chewing a carrot or jicama helps to release a clenched has, and then ward off tension.
- Small Bedtime Meal: having carbs at bedtime can speed the release of serotonin to the brain and help you sleep better. Go with something light such as 1 piece of whole wheat toast with a small piece of fruit.