Stress has become a part of everyone's life. Our body is under constant physical, mental, or emotional stress the majority of the time in a day. The term ‘stress’ that we frequently use in our day-to-day life is originally an alarm system in our brain that gives signals to the body by releasing a burst of hormones, which have the capacity to increase our heart rate and raise our blood pressure, in threatening situations.
Nowadays, stress is not just a reaction to the threat perception of our brain; instead, it has become a constant reaction to every little change in life, be it meeting new people, changing jobs, going to college, attending a meeting, managing a walk, and overall maintaining an upbeat social life.
Until the stress is causing no harm to your physical or mental health, it is considered to be under your control. But if it starts affecting your everyday life, such as leading to heart diseases, hypertension, loss of appetite, depression, or obesity, it needs to be kept in check and managed.
The elements that are responsible for causing stress—stressors—can be classified into positive and negative stressors. If it helps you fight challenges or bring competitive energy, it is a positive stressor; whereas, if it is causing health depletion or mental disturbance, it is a negative stressor.
Stress can be managed by several long-term methods like medication, physical exercises, or mindfulness. Moreover, there are several foods to relieve stress. Different amounts and types of foods impact the body’s neural circuits that control mood, emotion, and mental state.
Fighting stress with food is inexpensive and accessible with no side effects. The following are the top 18 foods to relieve stress, lift your energy level, and calm your mind.
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has been known worldwide for improving mood by increasing serotonin and endorphin hormonal levels in the brain. It also helps in improving memory immunity effectively.
Dark chocolate, an anti-inflation agent, boosts energy levels, lowers stress hormones, and releases oxytocin, which is a relaxation hormone. Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher is supposed to be utterly effective for relieving stress levels in your body.
2. Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates increase levels of serotonin in the body, helping in boosting mood and reducing stress levels. It also helps in stabilizing blood pressure. A few of the common examples of complex carbs are whole-grain bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals.
Avocados are rich in vitamin B and heart-healthy fat that may be effective in relieving everyday stress. It contains vitamin B6 that helps in the making of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is known as a mood-booster hormone.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is rich in both omega-3 fats and vitamin D, known for reducing stress levels and improving mood. These omega-3 fatty acids along with stress management protect against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome. Some common examples of fatty fish are Mackerel, Herring, Salmon, and Sardines.
5. Warm Milk
Milk contains tryptophan, the amino acid that helps in producing serotonin. The calcium present in the milk eases anxiety related to premenstrual stress. The protein in milk has a calming effect on the body as it lowers blood pressure levels. Milk is also high in antioxidant content, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium, providing an overall immunity for the body and great stress relief.
Nuts are an extremely effective food item that reduces inflammation in the heart’s arteries, thus lowering cholesterol levels and regulating anxiety. Nuts contain selenium, a mineral that can help in elevating mood. The presence of magnesium, vitamins B and E, and omega-3 fatty acids in nuts strengthens the immune system in stressful times. Some common examples of nuts are walnuts and peanuts.
7. Sweet Potato
Under stressful situations, we crave carbohydrates and sweets, which is where sweet potatoes could replace sweet junk. Sweet potatoes are one of the foods to relieve stress, containing beta carotene, vitamins, and fiber, which are healthy and help to process carbohydrates easily.
Eggs contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in producing serotonin, which is an essential hormone for maintaining overall well-being. It is a neurotransmitter that helps in regulating mood, behavior, sleep, and memory.
9. Chamomile Tea
This tea is popular amongst tea-lovers for its healing properties. It is often used to relieve the problem of insomnia and gas caused by intestinal disorders. Due to its easy availability and low cost, it can easily be included in your daily diet as one of the foods to relieve stress.
Orange is one of the best-known citrus fruits, whose regular consumption can lower stress hormones and help in the elevation of the overall mood. Loaded with vitamin C, oranges can reduce stress levels and boost the immune system. The regular intake of fresh orange juice can help in lowering the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, during high anxiety situations.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants that neutralize the effects of free radicals in the body, helping in fighting the laziness that causes stress and anxiety in your body. It also helps in soothing the stress level of the mind efficiently.
Chickpeas are rich in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin B, zinc, selenium, manganese, and copper, which are known as stress-fighters. These are also rich in L-tryptophan that helps in the production of serotonin, which boosts the mood significantly.
Broccoli consists of nutrients like Vitamin B and folic acid that help in relieving stress, anxiety, and depression. Broccoli contains high amounts of Vitamin C, even more than oranges, helping in controlling blood pressure and cortisol levels. This exotic green vegetable also helps in strengthening the immune system that ultimately helps in regulating the stress levels of the body and mind positively.
Cashews are a good source of magnesium that helps in regulating the nervous system and stabilizing the overall energy of the body. This dry fruit is loaded with zinc and stress-busting nutrients, helping in managing responses to stress levels.
Spinach is rich in magnesium, which is the mineral that helps in regulating cortisol levels. Magnesium intake through spinach also helps in improving sleep quality effectively. Spinach, as a green leafy vegetable, promotes overall health and well-being because of the presence of folate that produces a pleasure-inducing chemical in the body, named Dopamine.
Oatmeal contains vitamin B6, which is an anti-stress vitamin. It is known as a comfort food rich in melatonin, which supports instant relaxation, sleep, and calmness. A warm bowl of oatmeal increases serotonin levels in the body and maintains blood sugar levels that ultimately help your body to calm down the triggers and relax.
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, among others, can also help in reducing the production of excess stress hormones as they are high in vitamin C. Berries are considered superfoods and are one of the best fruits to improve the mood naturally. Loaded with antioxidants, these are natural sources of sugars that also fulfill the urge for sugar in stressful conditions.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E that boosts the immune system. It also contains magnesium, which helps in producing serotonin in the body, thus regulating the overall mood and relieving stress levels effectively.
Everyone can have their customized stress-management diet with loads of healthy carbs, nuts, fibrous food, and a handful of berries. The reduction of stress levels through a nutrient-rich daily diet is one of the easiest yet effective ways to feel relieved from stress in the long run. Foods with rich fiber content, along with avocados, warm milk, and citrus fruits, are backed by science for fighting stress effectively upon regular consumption.
Under stressful conditions, your body is unable to produce hormones responsible for calming you down and boosting your mood. Hence, the intake of food items rich in nutrients that help in producing essential hormones, like Serotonin, Dopamine, and Endorphins, can drastically affect your mental and physical health. You can tame your stress levels by inculcating the foods mentioned above in your daily diet.
All these foods have stress-relieving qualities, which is why the addition of even a few of these superfoods in the daily diet can play a significant role in boosting your mental health and emotional well-being by reducing stress to a great extent.
The aforementioned foods to relieve stress will alter levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones and play a role of an ally for your mental and emotional well-being.
Fight your stressful moments with foods that require no complicated instructions, unlike other stress-managing techniques. Consuming foods to relieve stress is a holistic practice that can have long-term positive effects on the human body and mind.
So, the next time you are experiencing stress or anxiety, seek relief by adding these foods to your plate. Be mindful of your diet and starve your negative thoughts for a regulated and stress-free mind and body.
Authored by: Bhavishya Pahwa
About the Author: Bhavishya Pahwa is a budding writer who has always confided in a pen. He believes that art is a cure-all and that introspection followed by writing can add to the sanity of the world.