We’ve talked quite a bit these last few weeks of things you can do to de-stress around the holidays, but it’s often activities to add to your routine (or maintain) – like exercise. In the final countdown hours before company arrives, time may not be on your side – so how about this: we know we’re going to be eating these next few weeks, so why not choose the foods that can actually help you feel better in stressful times? These foods are not only easy to eat, leaving no excuses, but they’re actually scientifically proven to impact chemicals in your brain that affect levels of stress, irritability, hostility, happiness and even depression!
Thanks to Men’s Health Magazine for this wonderful insight!
1. Salmon: Or any fish with lots of omega-3 fatty acids (also mackerel and trout) can actually lower the likelihood of feelings of hostility by almost 20 percent, according to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente, a California-based health-care provider. Not that you EVER get those kinds of feelings this time of year!
2. Milk: Stress can lower your levels of serotonin (one of the body’s main stay-calm chemicals), but the whey protein in milk can help boost tryptophan, one of the building blocks of serotonin, by 43%, Dutch researchers found.
3. A nice, big, leafy salad with grilled chicken or fish: Leafy greens like arugula, chard, spinach (etc!), are packed with B vitamins – part of the assembly line that manufactures feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, a lack of B6 can cause nervousness, irritability, and even depression.
4. Chocolate! Chocolate in general aids in the quick release of “relax-right-away” endorphins – but you know I’m going to mention portion control here! Since chocolate packs calories, as well, over-indulging could actually counter-act the endorphin release if it is companied with feelings of guilt: we recommend a fun-pack of M&M’s or Dove Dark Chocolate Promises – nicely portioned controlled to help prevent excess!
5. Fruit: Pick a fruit, any fruit! Any kind of fruit is fine—the sugar in it will give you a little burst of energy to power through your busy schedule. If you have the option, try to choose oranges in particular, says Pam Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “Most people get manually or orally fixated when they’re stressed out—that’s why some people smoke,” she says. Or why they fail to notice they emptied an entire bag of Doritos while reading emails. Peeling an orange will keep your hands and mouth busy.
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