Stress is a part of everyone’s lives. Work, family, financials, projects, and even everyday chores can all contribute to our stress levels, making it impossible to eliminate. However, there are numerous ways to help manage stress, and there’s no better time than National Stress Awareness Month to examine four ways to relieve stress through fitness and nutrition.
Sweat it Out
The physical benefits of working out are well documented. Lifting weights and doing cardio workouts are great ways to build strength, lose weight and stay healthy. However, exercising can also have a positive effect on the mind by helping to reduce stress. It has been shown that exercising can help reduce fatigue, improve concentration and enhance your overall cognitive function. This can be extremely advantageous, especially when you’ve been “stressed out” for a while. When you’re in a stressed state, the nerves in your body are affected, leading to an overall negative impact on the entire body. By exercising, you are countering this effect by releasing endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, thus helping to reduce your stress. So, get to the gym, clear your head and get your blood pumping!
Walk in Nature
Think of exercise as a therapy session for your body and mind. If you don’t have time to make it to the gym, take a short break to go for a walk outside. Fitting in a quick 15-minute walk on your lunch break will have a positive impact on your stress levels and mood. Even just five minutes of aerobic exercise outside in the sunshine can help reduce stress and provide an added boost of Vitamin D!
In addition to exercising in the gym or outside, practicing simple yoga moves can help to quiet the mind, ease anxiety and improve flexibility. Stretching through yoga is also good for the nervous system and lymphatic system, as it increases blood flow and encourages deep breathing, which in itself is a major stress reliever.
Reach for Nutrient-Dense Foods
For most of us, when we think of stress related to nutrition, we think of “stress eating.” This is often used as a way to cope with how bad we feel, so we fill ourselves with empty calories or whatever junk is around. But this is just feeding your body with food that has no nutritional benefits, which ends up causing even more stress. Sweet treats, greasy fast food and alcohol might sound like good options when you are stressed, but they’re actually doing more harm than good. Instead, reach for a nutrient-dense snack that will make you feel satiated while providing anti-stress benefits. If you’re craving sweets, grab fresh fruit or dried berries like Goji Berries, Goldenberries and Mulberries. If you’re a chocolate fan, reach for a handful of Cacao Nibs to satisfy your sweet tooth while getting a healthy boost of antioxidants and fiber.
The reality is that everyone encounters stress and there’s just no way to completely get rid of it. However, by practicing these four methods when you start to feel the pressure, you can work toward managing your stress levels to become a happier, healthier you!