The amount of stress we have is directly proportionate to how out of control we feel. If you fall into a routine of aggressive stress, as you try to courageously check everything off your to-do list, you're not alone. Many people use stress as a barometer for how much they get done in a day. It sometimes seems as if our stress level is the way we can show the world how much we can take on.
Over the past few months, I've been working super hard to make specific goals come true. From weight loss to reaching new career heights, as I fearlessly check each goal off, I find my exhaustion levels climbing. The more I pursue, the more stressed out I become. But instead of looking at the stress, I push through it, often exhausting myself even more. I recently had to force myself to stop after a giant meltdown that left me physically unable to move. My body shut down and said, "Lady, slow the @#%k down!"
If we don't listen to our bodies as they gently give us signals throughout the day, we can end up dramatically hurting ourselves. I was fortunate that my breakdown only included a weekend hibernation. It could have been worse. Some people get infectious diseases; stress can lead to hospitalization and even heart attacks.
Stress is a serious epidemic that most people ignore, because it has become a way to function in our society. If we aren't stressed about our own to do lists, many of us have emotional stress from past situations, to the world state of affairs and even natural disasters. We feel helpless, and our stress levels sky rocket. But stress doesn't have to be the common way of life.
For myself, I realized that my stress levels were high because I was trying to do too much too soon. I kept thinking that if I kept working then I would be completely done. But the reality is there's never a "done." There will always be work, and the stress that comes from thinking we have to do more than we realistically can.
If you find that you're always full of anxiety, and consumed with stress, welcome to the club. The pace of the world can catch up to us as we all try to appear as if we have it together. Most of us are crying out inside, begging for a pause button. Whether it is work demands, school, family pressure or relationship issues, it is time to break up with stress.
On my journey to slow down and enjoy the daily moments, I started to look at my diet. I realized there was room for improvement and that adding healthier foods could actually help me de-stress this hot mess; a good first step. I went on a one-week de-stress diet, and a week later, I felt grounded, happy and healthy.
These foods are my top stress-busting foods.
Our bodies need vitamin B for a healthy brain. Avocados are have tons of stress-relieving B vitamins, and they can lower your blood pressure.
When stress has you reaching for binge-y comfort foods, try this relaxing recipe instead. Opt for a non-dairy version of a super creamy treat — blend an avocado with a ripe banana, add a bit of vanilla extract, plus soy milk or other milk alternative. Blend + sip + enjoy = chilled out.
Lavender has long been used for instant relaxation. I add a few drops of lavender extract into my water each morning, which is a great way to make sure I get enough to drink, but the soothing lavender has the added benefit of calming my muscles and relaxing my brain.
This powerful green veggie is high in folic acid, which means it can help stabilize your mood. When we are stressed out, our bodies release hormones that can affect our mood. Eating vitamin-rich foods can help keep your mood steady because they're needed to make serotonin, a chemical that directly affects mood in a positive way.
Very rich in antioxidants, blueberries offer a high-fiber, low-calorie fruit option that is also rich in stress-fighting vitamin C. Try them with cottage cheese or as a snack on their own.
How about you? Do you have a go-to stress-fighting food? I would love to hear your comments below.