April marks Stress Awareness Month, which aims to inform the country about the perils of being over-stressed while simultaneously offering solutions to combating stress. For many people, their stress derives from their schoolwork or occupation. While there are indeed ways to alleviate the mental strain created by these situations, they’re often hard to impose. However, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to cut down on your stress levels. This includes exercising regularly and adopting a healthy diet.

When you work out, your body produces endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers. They create a feeling of euphoria, which, in addition to making your mind feel at ease, helps you fall asleep. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that, along with a number of other stimuli, are triggered when your body exercises. When people describe a “runner’s high”, they’re essentially referring to this response.

chocolate and breadThe most important way to prevent stress and maintain a healthy mind and body is to eat a healthy diet. While eating healthy is generally good for keeping your stress levels low, there are specific foods that are linked to positive mental health.

1. Chocolate

While your first thought may be the obvious “well isn’t chocolate unhealthy?” And while this is true to an extent, researchers have found evidence that chocolate, in moderation, is actually good for your health. While milk chocolate may be tastier, dark chocolate has far more health benefits. In addition to not being nearly as high in sugar and fat, dark chocolate contains flavonols and polyphenols, which are antioxidants known boost the immune system.

2. Chamomile Tea

Many people enjoy a cup of this daisy-based tea before sleep, seeing as it’s proven to have a soothing effect on the mind. Studies around the country have shown that people with anxiety disorders, who have recently made a habit of drinking chamomile tea have displayed positive psychiatric effects.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in the antioxidant known as anthocyanin. In addition to boosting the immune system, anthocyanin has been found to boost attention span and naturally raise the body’s energy levels. Blueberries’ vitamin C also helps lower blood pressure and help calm the nerves after stressful situations, by reducing the body’s cortisol count.

grass-fed beef4. Grass-Fed Beef

While red meat isn’t the most healthy food in the world, especially concerning cholesterol, there is evidence that it may help relieve stress. Haven’t you ever had a great steak dinner felt unusually-euphoric afterwards? While this may be somewhat related to the deliciousness of the meal, it may also be due to its high Omega-3 content.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is unique in that your body actually releases serotonin when you eat it. Serotonin is the body’s chemical that largely alters mood, so when it gets released, feelings of happiness are generated. People who enjoy oatmeal with their breakfast are generally believed to have sharper instincts in the morning, allowing them to be more efficient, whether it’s at the workplace or in the classroom.

If you wish to consult one of our physicians regarding your diet, visit our center for a physical any day of the week. To speak to us over the phone, call us at 978-470-0800.