Updated: Apr 21, 2020
When you’re stressed either physically or emotionally, your body goes through processes to help you handle the pressure. Unfortunately, these processes use up vitamin and mineral reserves. Over time, this makes it difficult to cope with stress. Chronic stress increases risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, weakened immunity and weight gain. The following foods and practices can help relieve stress and restore your body’s nutrient reserves.
Nutrients and Foods
B vitamins are depleted during stress. Vitamin B6 helps make serotonin, which can help reduce feelings of depression, stress and anxiety. Food sources include eggs, turkey, pistachios, pecans, spinach, chickpeas, bananas, potatoes, lentils
Magnesium supports relaxation by dilating blood vessels, which helps to lower blood pressure. Magnesium also promotes healthy sleep and reduces unnecessary neuronal activation. Food sources include nuts, leafy greens, dark chocolate, cashews, pumpkin seeds, halibut
Zinc is involved in making neurotransmitters and hormones and can help with brain function. Food sources include chicken, eggs, legumes, nuts, crab, oysters, grass fed beef
Fiber helps remove excess cortisol and adrenaline, hormones produced during stress. Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber each day. Food sources include oatmeal, whole grains, lentils, artichokes, raspberries, chia seeds
Omega-3s can reduce inflammation in the body, especially the brain! Brain inflammation is linked to feelings of anxiety and depression. Food sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, wild caught salmon, tuna
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health. More than half your neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. Beneficial probiotics help to support the production of these feel good compounds. A healthy gut is a healthy mind. Food sources include yogurt with live active cultures, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut
Stress Reducing Activities
Meditation can help relieve stress and anxiety. “Meditation Studio,” “Headspace,” and “Insight Timer” are great apps for meditation. Aim for 5 minutes three times per week.
Exercise that increases your heart rate boosts the production of endorphins and feel good serotonin. Additionally, yoga connects the breath with body movements and can be a gentle form of active meditation.
Deep breathing can help relax muscles and quiet the mind. One method is called box breathing. Take a deep breath for a count of 4, holding for a count of 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4. Repeat until you feel a sense of calm.
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