Foods can help us tame stress in several ways - boosting levels of our feel good hormones, reducing levels of our stress hormones and with some foods, just the act of CHEWING can help de-stress. This certainly isn’t a complete list; however, I included what I think are some ‘easy’ adds to a daily routine. Bonus: these foods also have tons of other health benefits and will make us feel awesome. Check them out.
DARK Chocolate (70% or more)
WHY: Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols and flavanols, which can improve mood and lower blood pressure. Sadly TWIX bars do not fall into this category.
HOW: Enjoy a couple of squares of quality dark chocolate each week to benefit from its mood-boosting properties.
WHY: Several types of seeds contain magnesium, which is known to heighten feelings of well-being, help stabilize emotions and fend off anxiety. Sounds good to me!
HOW: Snack on pumpkin or sunflower seeds; toss seeds on a salad or stir-fry, make your own hummus with tahini (sesame paste)
Oranges and Blueberries
WHY: Oranges and blueberries make the list for their vitamin C. Studies suggest vitamin C can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. In one study of people with high blood pressure, blood pressure and levels of cortisol (stress hormone) returned to normal more quickly when people took vitamin C before a stressful task.
HOW: Oranges, peel and eat, silly ;) Toss a handful of blueberries into oatmeal, a smoothie, your mouth!
Chamomile and/or lavender tea
WHY: Research shows that both of these flowers can calm nerves, reduce feelings of anxiety and promote sleep.
HOW: Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, so you can enjoy a cup any time you feel stressed - a great way to unwind before bed.
WHY: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, fish oil and flaxseeds, can prevent surges in stress hormones. Stress also depletes Omega-3s so they must be replenished. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline can also cause weight gain - another reason we want to shut those suckers down.
HOW: For a healthy supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat fish at least twice a week.
WHY: Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins: vitamin E to bolster the immune system and B vitamins, which may make you more resilient during bouts of stress or depression.
HOW: To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day or so.
WHY: In addition to their nutrients and fiber filling power, their satisfying crunch and act of chewing can release a clenched jaw and ward of tension.
HOW: Crunch, crunch and crunch.
The math is pretty simple. In an average week, most of us spend:
The good news is that there are lots of ways you can incorporate movement into your busy day. Check out some of these ideas and incorporate what you can. Even little changes can add up to big benefits. If you have a favorite movement idea that isn’t listed, please let me know so I can add it to the list!
Get coworkers involved in making movement a priority in your day. If you work in the type of place where people are friendly and supportive (I hope you do!), getting your coworkers involved in some kind of movement initiative can be a great way for all of you to encourage each other to make your work environment a little healthier. Rally the troops!
Phone/Conference call time = walk time. An oldie but goody!
Drink water. A lot of it! Unless you have a super badder, you’ll have to get up frequently. To 'fill' up and 'empty' :) A double win!
The 30-minutes challenge. Set an alarm to alert you every 30 minutes. As soon as the alarm goes off, just get up 20 seconds or so. Maybe add a chest stretch or rotate those wrists for extra credit. Even just that brief period movement, and break from sitting, can have BIG changes for your metabolism and overall health.
Have any stairs? Use them! Skip the elevators and take the stairs any chance you get. This would be a great activity to add to one of your 20 second standups. Activate those glutes by really pushing through your heels as you walk up!
Feeling tired? The 3pm crash is real. Before you grab a cup of coffee, MOVE. Even better, take it outside for a quick breath of fresh air. Guaranteed to give you an energy boost, without the caffeine!
Meeting time = standing time (or walking time). Need help convincing your co-workers? Movement can also help increase concentration, focus, and productivity.
Keep moving and stay FIT!
I am a personal trainer, health coach and fitness instructor. I want to educate and empower you so that you will be able to challenge yourself, safely and effectively, even when we are not working together. Check out these workouts and articles.