How to Destress
Chances are, if you have lived in this world for any length of time, you have encountered stress. Chances are also good that you are already aware of some methods of how to destress in your life, and possibly even currently using some of these methods in your daily life.
What is stress? Stress has been defined as an emotional or mental state, or feeling of pressure or strain caused by negative, or very challenging circumstances, or perceived negative or challenging circumstances.
Stress is your body/mind’s way of reacting to any type of stressor, or anything that causes stress. Typical stressors are work/job, family obligations, social situations, driving in traffic, financial needs, or health issues.
Stress can cause high blood pressure, anxiety, weight gain/obesity, digestive issues, skin problems like eczema, hair loss, sleep loss, and if untreated for long periods, stress can lead to more serious chronic illnesses like heart disease, and even cancer.
Drinking Alcohol and how to destress
Many people, in an effort to deal with or alleviate the stress they feel, turn to alcohol, and other drugs, including both over the counter, prescription, and illegal drugs such as marijuana ( legal in some states ), cocaine, methamphetamine, and/or heroin.
However, it has been shown that if you can limit your alcohol intake to 1 to 2 moderate drinks per day, it can have a beneficial destressing result, at least temporarily.
Stress has negative effects on the bodies organs, and systems. It depletes B vitamins, affects liver function, adrenal function, and pancreatic function.
B vitamins, which are made in the small intestine, and the adrenal glands are involved with energy. We make adrenaline when we sleep, and if we do not get 5 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, we make less than 30% of the amount of adrenaline we need during the day to give us the energy we need to function adequately.
Foods that can hinder how to destress.
Drinking caffeinated coffee can flog the adrenals, put a load on the kidneys, deplete B vitamins, negatively affect sleep, create a carcinogenic atmosphere in the body, and, as a result, contribute to added feelings of stress.
Refined sugar is also a definite no no when it comes to helping stress. It is well documented that refined sugar is detrimental to your mood, and overall mental health. It is one of the worst so called foods to put in your body, causing a never ending list of health problems.
Some grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye can create mood problems, and can even cause severe depression, and other brain, and mental issues. It is thought that the gluten content in these grains is to blame.
Processed foods ( I hesitate to call them foods as they have removed all or virtually all of any nutrient value they originally contained ) are notorious for creating many health issues, not the least of which are moodiness, and irritability. A better defintion of processed foods, is dead foods.
Most processed foods, which come in a can, bottle, box, or bag will do you more harm than good in almost every case, and should not be eaten, if at all possible.
How to destress with foods
Tryptophan rich foods: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in many foods, most notably turkey. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin in the body, and has a calming affect. Other foods rich in tryptophan include walnuts, free range eggs, and pumpkin seeds.
Dark chocolate Good news for those of us that love chocolate. It is not a myth that eating
Dark chocolate produces chemicals in the brain that bring about a euphoria or a feel good mental state. Be sure to only eat organic dark chocolate that doesn’t contain refined sugar or other potentially harmful ingredients.
Fermented foods are foods in which natural bacteria feed on the starch, and sugar within the food, and in turn makes lactic acid. This process is called lactofermentation.
This process has many health benefits. It generates beneficial enzymes, acts as a preservative for the food, makes B vitamins, makes different types of probiotics, as well as the heralded Omega-3 fatty acids.
B vitamins are particularly effective in alleviating, and combating stress, and fermented foods provide a highly bio available form of these nutrients that the body can easily absorb, and utilize.
Some common fermented foods are: sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, natto, kefir, pickles, and apple cider vinegar.
Some common fermented drinks are: beer, wine, and mead.
How to destress with dark leafy, green veggies
Dark, leafy, green veggies contain high levels of folate, which has been shown to help the body produce serotonin, and dopamine, the mood regulators, and thus fend off depression, and elevate mood.
These powerful vegetables include: swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and romaine lettuce.
Asparagus, although not a dark, leafy green, is also high in folate, and provides the same calming affect.
Avocados are also high in folate, and they contain other B vitamins which are very beneficial in reducing feelings of stress.
How to destress with berries
Many berries, especially blueberries are high in anti oxidant content, which has many health benefits including improving cognition, which is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
Every type of berry has a high content of Vitamin C, which is known to be helpful in reducing stress, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
What you may have heard about nuts is true. They contain many nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Two different nuts are particularly useful in stress reduction. They are walnuts, and cashews.
Walnuts are shaped like a brain. Coincidence? I think not. Pardon the pun. They contain folate, tryptophan, and melatonin, and can increase seratonin levels in the brain. These processes help reduce stress, and can produce feelings of well being, and relaxation.
Cashews are a great source of the mineral zinc. Higher levels of zinc have been shown to alleviate anxiety, and depression. They also contain B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids, and tryptophan, which combine to decrease stress.
Herbs that help with how to destress
Kava Kava: This herb is common to Polynesia, or the south Pacific islands. Also known as just Kava, it has a calming mental effect when the roots are brewed.
It is useful in relaxing anxiety, and even social anxiety, without any known side effects as with pharmaceutical drugs used for the same purpose.
Ashwagandha Having Indian Aruydvedic medicinal beginnings, this useful herb has been used for thousands of years to alleviate anxiety, and stress. It is the roots of Ashwaganda that contain the active ingredients that produce it’s positive effects.
Chamomile This versatile herb can be used as a tea, or as a supplement. It is known to be an excellent nerve, and mind calming tonic. It is perhaps best known as a sleep inducing herb that has been used as such for hundreds of years.
Passion Flower Another Polynesian wonder herb, this beautiful color laden plant can also help alleviate stress, and extreme anxiety, and is an excellent mind calming sleep aid. A positive side effect is as an aphrodisiac.
Lavender Although lavender can be calleda flower, and is also often used as an essential oil. It’s scent alone is often enough to bring about a state of relaxation, and peacefulness. Lavender is an age old secret for inducing sleep in infants. Drinking the infused tea is another method of producing it’s destressing properties.
Using foods and herbs to help you deal with our stressful world, is an easy, and positive step. It is however, only part of the destress equation. You should also include moderate exercise, meditation, massage, time away from work, communing with nature, and discovering your spiritual side, in your stress fighting arsenal.
In learning how to destress, take heed to the old adage,” take time to smell the roses”, or in other words, slow down and enjoy life.
The foods we eat, and our lifestyles can either help us minimize or alleviate stress, or it can add stress to our lives. It is important that we keep stress under control, and we can do it with a few simple changes in diet, and lifestyle. What will you choose to do?