Maintaining Good Health During Stressful Times

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah.      .

When stressed, if your go-to is demolishing a packet of wafers or finishing a giant bowl of ice cream, then you could be doing yourself more harm than good. A chaotic lifestyle, a poor diet and a challenging job increase your chronic stress levels substantially. A nerve-racking encounter causes a revving up of the sugar cravings and increases the fat stores. Thus, you crave sugary and fatty foods which encourage the brain to release the ‘happy’ hormones to bring down your stress levels and they provide a burst of energy too. However, you may over-eat these foods and they can cause weight gain but what’s more they make your stress even worse.

Stock up on the right stress-battling foods

Certain foods help you get back to work - restocked, with better concentration and feeling less distraught.

3 stress busting foods

Stress-busting foods can nourish your body and drive out feelings of irritation. Make sure that you keep these foods handy, so that you can tide over emotional obstacles with ease and be less overwhelmed and overwrought.

  1. Nuts: Nuts are loaded with magnesium – magnesium plays a critical role in our body's natural stress fighting mechanism. Most of us are magnesium deficient; and a sign of magnesium insufficiency is difficulty in grappling with stress. So, go ahead, chomp on a fistful of nuts, it will help you unwind and calm down while tackling your hunger pangs.
  2. Fruits: Most fruits contain vitamin C. Consuming large amounts of vitamin C can help cope with stressful situations better. Research shows that the level of cortisol – a stress hormone can reduce when you consume adequate amounts of vitamin C, thus making it easy to deal with stress. Make sure that you have 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily – that’s one of the most important tips for healthy diet and a healthy stress-free lifestyle.
  3. Legumes: When under stress, the mood-controlling neurotransmitter - serotonin takes a big bashing, thus making you frenzied and weighed down. The answer to manage this situation is to reach out for slow-digesting complex carbs and proteins. Beans, legumes and pulses provide plenty of complex carbs and proteins. Beans are also chockfull of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. Beans also have the B vitamins which help you keep your brain focused and energized. So, ensure that you have a big bowl of beans daily.

Along with eating the right kind of foods, you also need to follow a dedicated exercise routine. Taking time to wind down and relax every day is exceedingly crucial – it helps deal with stress better and protects the body from the harsh effects of stress. You could opt from - deep breathing and Pranayama, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation. These provide a ton of benefits. Free up time, so you have some amount of ‘me-time’ everyday, by following time-management skills, asking for help, setting priorities, scheduling things and setting out time to care for yourself. Also, set reasonable goals and expectations. It's okay that you absolutely cannot be 100% successful at everything. Be aware of the things that are within your control and accept those things that you cannot control.

How to stay healthy - is a rather tricky and complicated intention! However, integrate these healthy options – they have been scientifically verified to change the brain chemistry and hormones to help your body cope with stress successfully. 

Reference: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Pizzorno.

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