Stressors can come from any part of life, whether family, work, mental health, or otherwise, and if left unchecked can be damaging not only to your mental health and well-being but also manifest themselves into physical symptoms.
Healthy dietary choices can easily fall by the wayside in such times, but it is more important than ever to be aware of what food choices will actually make you feel better. While comfort foods can provide short-lived stress-relief, try some of the following foods and supplements for a healthy, well-rounded diet designed to reduce your stress and anxiety.
Nuts & Seeds
Walnuts: High in omega-3 and magnesium, which increase serotonin and dopamine, decrease blood pressure and cortisol; rich in unsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. Great for fighting anxiety or clinical depression.
Sunflower seeds: Aid in dopamine production, which is the ‘good mood’ hormone.
Almonds: Plenty of vitamin E and C and high in antioxidants, which are all good for brain function and blood pressure
Chia seeds: Rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is not naturally produced, but boosts mood and helps you sleep.
Dark chocolate: Helps to improve mood, fight anxiety, and aid in cognitive function. Dark chocolate is fantastic for the brain, but only if it has a high percentage of cacao and is relatively unprocessed. This means 75% cacao at the very least.
Fruits & Vegetables
Bananas: Contain complex carbohydrates, which aid in serotonin production, and amino acids necessary for dopamine production.
Kiwi: High in folic acid, which has been found to aid in depression; also full of vitamin C, which lowers blood pressure and other stress-related physiological symptoms.
Blueberries: High in folate vitamin for serotonin production, even more so than other berries; also contains anthocyanins, which decreases inflammation (which has been proven to be a factor in depression).
Avocados: Full of healthy fats for the heart and aids in absorbing other nutrients, for stress, anxiety, and depression.
Asparagus: Contains high quantity of folic acid, which acts as a mood stabilizer and aids in treating depression.
Broccoli: High in B vitamins, which are proven to help fight anxiety and depression.
Leafy greens: Full of magnesium, a natural relaxant; in particular, some of the most beneficial leafy greens are…
… Kale: High in magnesium for fighting depression and full of copper, which is great for cellular function and general health and well-being – copper also stabilizes the mood and, when eaten regularly, decreases your chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s).
… Spinach: Along with swiss chard, spinach is high in magnesium, which is great for tension relief and relaxing your muscles.
Mushrooms: A highly under-used (and incredibly rich) source of vitamin D, which can help fighting depression and anxiety.
Green tea: Full of antioxidants and the amino acid theanine, which is helpful for those with depression; matcha green tea is even better, as it contains up to five times the amount as regular green tea.
Chamomile: Well-known to have a range of healing properties, including reducing many stress-induced symptoms (e.g. gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, etc.).
Mint: Common for stress-relief and calming properties, especially for gastrointestinal issues.
Whatever is causing you stress in your life, you should always consider treating it from as many angles as possible. While eating the right foods can be a great place to start, getting comprehensive help means seeing out other forms of assistance.
Handling stress relies on utilizing every resource available to you – talk to friends and family, talk to your doctor about treatment options, seek professional therapeutic help, and be kind to yourself. Self-care is a great first step, but you have to follow through with other forms of treatment.
Refining your diet is important in ensuring your body and mind have all the nutrients they need – as long as you are also just as dedicated to reducing stress and anxiety in other parts of your life.
Molly Crockett writes for Academized. As a lifestyle writer, she shares her inspiration and lifestyle tips with her audience.