You know those days you wake up already feeling stressed and anxious when it’s not even 7 a.m.? Here’s what to do.
First, take a deep breath. Next, let’s stop stress dead in its tracks — or at least find some ways to cope with it better.
One of the best ways to do this? Strategize your meals. Food is one of the foundations for how we feel — good or bad — or, at the very least, gives us the energy to feel. With that in mind, we created a one-day meal plan for resetting through your gut.
Starting your day with avocado toast is Instagram-worthy and good for anxiety.
This heart-healthy fat is chock-full of B vitamins, which nix stress while balancing out neurotransmitters and, according to a 2001 study, supporting brain function.
Research has shown that B vitamins can reduce work-related stress and provide a better quality of life, which we’re all about. On the flip side, a deficiency in vitamin B is linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Try: One of these next-level avocado toast recipes with whole-grain bread.
Eat plain Greek yogurt as part of your stress-free day.
Numerous studies have shown that eating foods rich in probiotics has amazing benefits for mental health. This is thanks to the gut-brain axis, which ensures that your healthy gut bacteria, brain, and mood are in balance.
One study found that people prone to chronic stress who consumed probiotic yogurt daily had reduced symptoms and were better able to cope.
Try: Make a simple on-the-go smoothie with blueberries (see below) for bonus points.
These tiny superfoods are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C — great news for you, bad news for anxiety.
Antioxidants have been shown to improve brain health while helping out with depression and anxiety.
According to one study, vitamin C and antioxidants are powerful tools for fighting the symptoms associated with anxiety and even for preventing it.
Try: Adding blueberries to your morning smoothie, eating them as a snack paired with a small handful of nuts, or trying one of these 56 healthy blueberry recipes.
Popeye was onto something. This leafy green is also good for reducing anxiety. Spinach is high in magnesium and B vitamins, two contenders in the fight against stress.
One study using mice found that spinach had anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties, although more research is needed to determine whether it has the same effects in humans.
Bonus: Eating a hearty helping of spinach salad at lunch will give you an energy boost, thanks to those B vitamins.
Try: A spinach salad with plenty of your favorite veggies, topped with almonds or pumpkin seeds — two other great sources of magnesium.
If you’re dealing with stress and anxiety, adding omega-3s to your daily diet is a must.
The fatty acids found in salmon can regulate serotonin and dopamine levels, resulting in an overall calming and relaxing state.
Try: Making oven-baked salmon for dinner paired with asparagus and brown rice or sweet potatoes (all three are stress-busting foods).
So that smile when you eat chocolate? Serotonin. Yes, we’re telling you to eat more chocolate, but specifically dark chocolate.
Researchers analyzed five different kinds of chocolate and found that chocolate with 85 percent cocoa had the highest serotonin content.
The magnesium in dark chocolate can also help lower stress levels. Magnesium suppresses the release of the stress hormone cortisol and plays an important role in brain health.
Studies show that eating roughly 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for 2 weeks can have a powerful effect on stress levels. It’s best to eat chocolate in moderation and reach for bars with at least 70 percent cacao.
Try: A piece of dark chocolate with a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed.
When it comes to stress and anxiety, it’s best to limit or avoid these foods:
- added sugar
- diet soda and other diet drinks
- refined carbs
- processed foods
- soy sauce