Americans constantly face stress at work. It can be in the form of deadlines, an overbearing boss, uncooperative co-workers, or demanding clients. While the right amount of stress can push us in the right direction, too much of it can cause physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, and elevated blood pressure.
We need all the help we can get when handling stress to stay efficient and productive at work. Fortunately, we can deal with stress with things like meditation, rest, exercise, and healthy diet. Let’s take a closer look at some stress-relieving foods that can help get us back on the right track.
1. Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates promote the production of serotonin, a mood-stabilizing hormone. Low serotonin levels cause restlessness, depression, and moodiness. Foods like cereals, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, cereals, and pasta increase serotonin levels in the brain so you can feel calmer and in control. In addition, the high fiber content from these food items slows down digestion, so the effect lasts longer.
Researchers from University College London have found that people who drink tea regularly are able to handle stress better. According to the study, tea lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood after a stressful event. Sustained high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream may lead to high blood pressure, decreased immunity, and impaired cognitive performance.
Prolonged physical or psychological stress triggers the production of adrenaline. Salmon and other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help suppress adrenaline production. A rush of adrenaline can cause rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, tremors, and fluid accumulation in the lungs. Experts recommend eating at least three servings of fatty fish each week.
4. Dark Chocolate
A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research has shown that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate may lower stress hormone levels in people who are stressed out. Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium which helps alleviate fatigue, depression, and irritability. It is also rich in antioxidants which dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation.
Fruits, particularly those rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, papayas, kiwi, and guavas help reduce both physical and psychological effects of stress. Researchers believe that vitamin C suppresses the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. They also recommend that vitamin C should be considered an important part of stress management.
Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps reduce stress levels and keeps you in a calm state. Low magnesium levels can contribute to stress by causing headache and fatigue. In addition, spinach is also a good source of dietary vitamin C.
A study in 2010 found that eating walnuts help lower both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress. Walnuts are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acid which can explain the positive effects on blood pressure.