How to Maintain Stress and Healthy Eating
Stress is a normal part of everyday life and in some cases can improve mental alertness and boost cognitive performance. But ongoing, chronic stress can interrupt our lives and interfere with health. Fortunately, healthy eating improves our ability to handle stress, while the benefits of fitness contribute to stress management in numerous ways.
Here are some tips to help you handle stress and maintain healthy eating and fitness through it.
· Don’t skip meals. As tempting as it may seem, do not avoid eating. It is common that when stress levels rise many people forgo food altogether, but missing meals can contribute to low blood sugar, leading to irritability and fatigue. This increases cortisol production and then stress levels get worse. If you feel too stressed to eat, enjoy a protein smoothie, eggs or yogurt to help ward off hunger. At the same time, protein will protect and nourish your brain so you can think more clearly and calmly.
· Hydrate your body. Your entire body including all of your organs and brain rely on water to function properly. But in today’s face-paced society, it is easy to forget to drink water, which can cause the body to increase cortisol to unhealthy levels. Dehydration also contributes to brain fog and fatigue, both of which can exacerbate feelings of stress and worry. Combat this effect by making a commitment to drink about half an ounce of water for each pound of your weight. If you exercise a lot or live in a hot or humid environment, increase your water goal to about 1 ounce for each pound of body weight.
· Add nutrition to combat stress. That’s right, certain nutrients including polyphenols and healthy fats like omega-3s and vitamin E can improve blood flow so more nutrients make it to the brain. Some healthy brain foods include blueberries, salmon, tuna and dark chocolate. Get more vitamin E from avocados, sunflower seeds and spinach. Maintaining higher levels of beneficial fats will also help prevent deficiencies that can lead to depression and anxiety.
· Daily meditation can reduce both physical and mental tension. Meditation and deep breathing techniques both work to calm worry and is one of the best ways to relieve stress over time. When you become anxious or stressed, stop and take some deep breaths as you relax your shoulders and calm down. Incorporate 5 to 10 minutes of daily meditation where you sit in a quiet place and count your breaths or focus on clearing your mind. It does get easier with practice and people who meditate have an easier time calming their minds and managing stress throughout the entire day.
· Regular exercise is a great way to manage stress and improve health. In fact, one of the top benefits of fitness is stress management, and according to the Mayo Clinic, any form of exercise can help decrease stress. The key is to make fitness fun, so try an app like Yes.Fit to accomplish this. These types of apps offer virtual races through the lands of Wizard of Oz or embark on a Sea Turtle Exploration. While making exercise more enjoyable, apps like this help motivate you and offer rewards. They also offer social media where you can make friends with other like-minded people and cheer each other on.
Maintaining stress takes a little practice, but fitness and a healthy lifestyle may be the best stress relievers available to everyone.
Begin today to take control of your health so you can better manage stress and learn to more fully enjoy life.