How do you fight daily stress?
Managing your stress should be a part of your brain-healthy lifestyle. Exposure to stress damages the brain and decreases cognitive functions. Stress is often the key contributor to many health problems.
According to science, our lifestyle is the key to stress reduction, and surveys and researchers have shown five solutions that can be used to fight stress and build resistance:
- Relaxation treatments (meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, walking in nature)
- Positive thinking
Exercising reorganizes the brain so that stress is reduced and is less likely to interfere with normal functioning of the brain; moreover, exercising improves alertness and concentration. Why? When stress affects the brain, the body feels its impact. Moreover, exercising may also protect against future emotional stress. Regular workouts produce endorphin, which is a natural painkiller, and because it improves sleep, in turn, it reduces stress. Regular exercising (aerobic) decreases levels of tension and stabilizes the mood.
Relaxation treatments relieve muscle tension, improve metabolism and lower blood pressure. An interesting study, done by researchers at the University of Michigan in 2008, showed the cognitive benefit of interacting with nature (urban environments contain attention grabbing stimuli as opposed to natural environments that allow voluntary attention). Different meditation techniques have also shown enormous benefits to stress reduction. One of the ways that help me battle with stressful situations is meditation.
Socialization is important for both our mental and physical health. We are social beings, and lack of social relationships brings loneliness, increases the risk of stress and decreases the quality of sleep.
Humor has both short-term and long-term benefits: it stimulates your organs, soothes tension, and relieves stress and pain, improves immune system and increases personal satisfaction. A good laugh is very useful for fighting off stress.
Positive thinking is in many ways crucial for stress relief. We tend to think more negatively about ourselves, other people, environment, and so on, and these thoughts reflect on our overall mental and physical health. Being able to think more positively about stress sensors helps greatly in stress moderation.
These stress-relief mechanisms don’t have the same effect on every person. The key is to find the mechanism that incorporates into your lifestyle and suits your mindset. However, we need to find the mechanism that can help us all resist stressful situations.
The answer for all of us is in food that fend off stress.
There is nothing mysterious about the nutritional value of the food; however, the fact that we do not know its “mental and stress-relief” powers and benefits takes us one-step back. We need strength and energy, the specific nutrients that support proper brain functions: minerals, vitamins, protein, fats, and carbohydrates, to be able to control stressful situations and decrease stress.
Protein for serotonin, the “happiness hormone”, important for mood regulation, appetite, sleep, and cognitive function.
Iron for extreme fatigue (caused by iron deficiency) that causes depression.
Magnesium for increased muscle tension, chronic fatigue, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, which all can cause anxiety and depression, and for hundreds of enzymes reactions in the body.
Vitamin B12 for depression, DNA synthesis, the production of red blood cells and proper neurological functions.
Vitamin D for muscle pain, depression, chronic fatigue, and hypertension.
Vitamin C for high blood pressure, immune system, cardiovascular health and stress relief.
Thus, let us see what food can help us stay strong, positive and creative to battle stress.
As a great source of fiber and B complex vitamins, brown rice is packed with natural mood stabilizers. Brown rice is a slow burning carbohydrate, thus it helps with sustained energy release and significantly reduces the level of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. When the level of cortisol is high, this is the very first threat for the blood sugar levels. To control the level of cortisol include brown rice in your everyday nutrition.
Oranges and lemons are great options to increase your intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates thyroid hormone secretion, improves the ways of folic acid, tyrosine and tryptophan, all important for stress management and reduction. When it comes to fruits that are rich in vitamin C, you have plenty of great choices: strawberries, oranges, lemons, blueberries, cantaloupes, cranberries, raspberries, grapefruits, pineapples, papayas and mango. Increase your energy, boost your immune system and manage stress.
For many reasons vegetables are vital for a healthy life, thus, for stress-free life. Vegetables such as broccoli, celery, spinach, and asparagus are packed with essential nutrients. Asparagus is high in folic acid that influences our mood, and helps with mood stabilization. Spinach is rich in vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K, and minerals: iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. One more reason we should eat more veggies is serotonin.
Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, nuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts: pick your favorite healthy snack, rejuvenate your body and keep your strength and energy. Almonds are rich in magnesium and zinc, the essential minerals necessary for many processes in the body. On the other hand, almonds are rich in vitamin E and vitamin B12 that fight different diseases, and protect the body from free radicals that can cause serious illness. Walnuts help lower the blood pressure. Sunflower seeds, rich in folic acid, help produce dopamine, a pleasure-inducing chemical.
We need no particular reason to enjoy dark chocolate; on the other hand, we have plenty of benefits to enjoy it guilt-free. Dark chocolate is a powerful food with the ability to rebalance important chemicals in our body, which, in turn, are crucial for stress control. Moreover, dark chocolate lowers the level of cortisol and produces endorphin, a natural pain reliever, and influence on the level of serotonin, which fights with mood swings and anxiety. The darker the chocolate, the more healthy nutrients you are getting in your diet.
What should you avoid?
So, next time you’re feeling under pressure, arm yourself with nutrients you need to battle mental and physical stress.
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