More so than any other emotion, tension and stress can wreak serious havoc on our precious bodies. The good news is, we have a choice. The first step is to change the way we listen to our stress. Anxiety happens inappropriately when our body's needs are not being met. So in a moment of tension, there are two choices -- to take it literally or to take action and move out of it. Moving out of it can be as simple as taking initiative, and eating the right foods.
Certain healthy foods can actually help tame mindless munching and cravings, and lower overall anxiety levels. Below are 7 of my favorites:
1) Dark Chocolate. Eating healthy does not mean eating boring foods. This enticing substance can actually help you to alleviate symptoms of stress when eaten in moderation. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids which are potent with relaxation properties. Chocolate also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances mood. The darker the chocolate, the more of these substances you are getting. Generally, opt for bars with 70% cacao or higher.
2) Spinach. This lean, green leaf is high in magnesium which improves your body's overall response to stress and stops blood pressure from spiking.
3) Oatmeal. Have you ever noticed that when your body is stressed you crave carbohydrates? Your body is incredibly intelligent and demanding that you get back to feeling balanced. Follow that craving and choose nutrient rich complex carbohydrates. Oatmeal takes the cake on this one. Complex carbohydrates help you to produce serotonin, a relaxing hormone that can reduce anxiety's negative effects. Oatmeal's fiber rich qualities allow the body to absorb it at a much slower pace and prolong the serotonin boost. For those of you with low blood sugar, this is your solution to make sure your levels are in check for longer periods of time.
4) Walnuts. If you have high blood pressure, walnuts are your new best friend. Eating at least 1 ounce a day prevents blood pressure from rising, and keeps your anxiety levels in check. If you already tend to have higher levels of adrenaline and anxiety, do yourself a favor and don't make your heart work over time.
5) Sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds contain a high source of folate, which helps your body produce the feel-good brain chemical and take control of our emotional responses.
6) Blueberries. The high potency of antioxidants in these berries counteracts the production of cortisol, which is the number one chemical that is released during stressful times.
7) Salmon. Two words = omega threes. These fatty acids can actually reverse stress symptoms entirely by boosting serotonin and lowering anxiety hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.