Experiencing some anxiety is normal in life. However, according to the Mayo Clinic “People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks)”. This level of anxiety can certainly interfere with your health and needs to be treated. If you experience this level of anxiety, it is best for you to talk to your doctor. Sometimes anxiety may be linked to underlying medical issues.
For others, you may have some stress and anxiety at different times in your life. Certain situations can also trigger stress, such as a death in the family, buying a house, or changing jobs.
How do you deal with stress? A lot of people handle it by eating. The foods they are eating out of stress are not usually healthy, with potato chips being the main offender. The crunching of hard foods helps relieve the tension in your jaw; therefore releasing stress. You can always eat a carrot to get the same crunching relief!
There are several foods that help reduce stress. The amino acid tryptophan helps your body produce serotonin (the mood enhancing chemical in your brain that will help you to relax and feel calmer). Eating complex carbohydrates can help with the absorption of the tryptophan and elevate your levels of serotonin. Vitamin B6 helps the brain to produce serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. Dopamine is a chemical that also controls our mood and melatonin helps the body to sleep better.
To get a good, healthy dose of both tryptophan and vitamin B6, eat a banana!
Magnesium helps to relax your muscles. When you are stressed, the muscles in your body tighten. Eating foods that are high in magnesium (like avocado!) will help to relax your muscles and ease your stress.
Both bananas and avocados have a smooth consistency. That smooth consistency helps to soothe our mood.
I tend to exercise to relieve my stress. It is a great way to work off steam, and you will likely feel better once you have done it! I highly recommend it as a way to deal with stress.
Next time you are stressed or have anxiety, don’t turn to alcohol or unhealthy foods, try exercising and eating one of these stress-reducing foods!
Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.