Latest stress busters in town

Healthy diet

In today’s age of fast-paced living, no one is left untouched by stress. Whether it is a man slogging in office all day, a woman handling domestic chores as well as her kids or a teenager dealing with demanding studies – everyone is coping with one or the other kind of stress.

The effects of stress are also known to be far reaching: a disturbed life, hypertension, increased risk of strokes and even memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Thankfully, even though a stress-free job or frequent holidays are nearly impossible, there are a few quick-fix solutions to cut down on mental strain. Just make a note of these abundantly available food items and try and include them in your daily diet. You can be assured that strokes and Alzheimer’s won’t get to you easily.

Starting with breakfast, instead of having white bread, go for whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas as well as old-fashioned oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates like these prompt the brain to make more serotonin - a calming brain chemical. Though simple carbs, found in sweets, also produce serotonin, it’s best to eat complex carbs which are digested slowly.

In drinks, take black tea. Black tea helps one recover from stressful events quickly. A study compared people who drank four cups of black tea daily with people who drank coffee.

Tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of stress hormone cortisol after stressful situations. Coffee, in fact, boosted stress hormones and raised blood pressure.

In lunch, fatty fish could be your best friend. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, prevent surges in stress hormones and protect against heart diseases, mood disorders like depression and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome).

For a steady supply of Omega-3s, aim to eat three ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week.

In case you are not a fish-lover, try spinach. Green leafy vegetables, and spinach especially, are loaded with magnesium. Magnesium helps prevent headaches and fatigue relieving the effects of stress. One cup of spinach is sufficient to replenish your magnesium store.

In evening snacks, have nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios. They are a good source of healthy fats which lower cholesterol, ease inflammation in the arteries, make diabetes less likely and protect against the effects of stress. Don’t overdo it though. Nuts are rich in calories. 

Other than nuts, avocados are also helpful in stress-relief. Avocados contain large quantities of potassium which reduce blood pressure. Guacamole, made from avocado, is a healthy alternative when stress has you craving a high-fat treat.

In dinner, go for crunchy vegetables. Studies say that crunchy raw vegetables ease stress in a mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks releases a clenched jaw which wards off tension.

Another bedtime stress-buster is warm milk. Calcium eases anxiety and mood swings linked to PMS. Dieticians recommend skim or low-fat milk.

If nothing helps, go for herbal supplements, albeit after consulting a doctor. One of the best studied is St John's Wort which has shown benefits for people with mild-to-moderate depression. Then there is valerian root, another herb said to have a calming effect.

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