If you began smoking because you believed it would help relieve stress – or want to quit but are afraid that all that stress will overwhelm you – there are some facts you need to know. For one thing, nicotine does nothing to curb stress. All you’re going to do is develop an addiction, and you’ll have to keep feeding that craving until you can bring yourself to quit. There are plenty of suggested methods to deal with stress in healthy ways, like exercise or meditation, but not all methods work for all people. Maybe you feel like you aren’t in good enough shape to exercise, or you’re disabled. Maybe you simply can’t find any benefit in meditation or other mental techniques. It might surprise you to know, then, that one way you can lessen your stress is through the foods that you eat.
The following are some foods that are believed to reduce stress:
- Swiss chard is high in magnesium, which can help manage a stress hormone called cortisol. Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, and yogurt are also great sources of magnesium.
- The omega-3 fats in fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna help manage adrenaline levels.
- Whole grain foods will give you a boost of energy from carbohydrates and release a chemical called serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is believed to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness.
- There is some evidence that dark chocolate can lower the levels of stress hormones in the body. Chocolate also contains sugar that can release serotonin, as well as its own natural substances that create a sense of euphoria that people say is similar to the feeling of being in love.
- If you’re eating carbohydrates for the serotonin release, try to stick to healthier foods. You might find it in doughnuts, but stress can already cause your blood sugar to rise, so stick with things like oatmeal.
- One ounce of cashews contains 11 percent of the daily recommended value of zinc, which is an essential mineral that may help reduce anxiety.
- Crunchy foods like carrots and celery might not have any stress-reducing nutrients, but some people find it helpful to eat crunch foods when they’re feeling restless or fidgety.
Being stressed can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Here are some food-related ways to help lower your blood pressure:
- Avocado and bananas are both full of potassium, which helps keep your blood pressure low.
- Foods that are lower in sodium are best, so read labels and try not to add additional salt to your foods.
- Cut back on caffeine.
In general, try to stick with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, and stay away from too much saturated fat and cholesterol.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.