No matter what time of year it is, stress can always creep in. Winter holidays often deliver depression along with the gift wrap and gingerbread, while schedule changes during summer vacation can bring on anxiety instead of relaxation.
All that tension takes a dangerous toll on our health, as rates of panic disorders and stress-related mental illness continue to climb.1 Elevated stress hormones also increase inflammation, putting you at risk for serious issues, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.14 Addressing your stress can save your life!
My top 6 stress-busting strategies:
1) Green tea: Green tea has been proven to boost your health in so many ways, from fighting cardiovascular disease and obesity to preventing type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.2 As if all that wasn’t enough, it also makes you feel good! Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally reduces your blood pressure and anxiety levels.3 Just be sure to switch to decaf after lunch… (Not a fan of the taste? Try green tea extract in vegetarian Metabolic Reset.)
2) Exercise: Want to feel better fast? Get moving! Studies show that people who exercise at least 2-3 times a week experience significantly less depression, anger, and stress than folks who exercise less frequently or not at all.4 And you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get those mood-boosting benefits – read this article to find out how to get a complete workout in just 10 minutes a day.
3) Chocolate: This one sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? When the going gets tough, if your gut instinct is to reach for chocolate, you might be on to something! The flavanols in dark chocolate enhance your brain function and lower stress hormones, making you feel more focused and calm.5 (Want more good news? Check out this post about the Top 5 Reasons to Eat Chocolate Every Day.)
4) Lavender: When my son Grant was in the hospital, I witnessed the power of lavender firsthand. Even when he was in a deep coma, rubbing his feet with lavender essential oil reduced his blood pressure and heart rate. No surprise that a series of studies has shown lavender is a natural antidepressant that not only stabilizes your mood, but also relieves pain and can even prevent seizures and migraines.6 The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try taking a bath with several drops of lavender essential oil in the water.
5) Omega-3s: You don’t have to work hard to make a case for getting plenty of omega-3s in your diet, stressed or not! These powerful fatty acids have been proven to boost brain health, fight inflammation, and help burn fat and build muscle.9-11 Healthy omega-3 fats also show enormous promise in treating mood and behavior disorders and healing traumatic brain injuries.12,13 Here’s a convenient list of the top 15 foods for Omega-3s…
6) LOL: Laughter really is the best medicine. Not only does a good belly laugh loosen your muscles for a long time afterward, it also causes the release of endorphins, feel-good chemicals that reduce stress and and can even temporarily relieve pain.7 In fact, one study found that people with a good sense of humor actually live longer!8 Want a good chuckle right now? Check out my friend JP Sears and his hilarious spoof on gluten intolerance. (It’s a great reminder not to take ourselves quite so seriously…)
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