In an age where over-scheduling and an “I can do it all” mentality are commonplace, Americans are feeling more stressed than ever before. According to a 2013 research report by Carnegie Mellon University, Americans’ stress levels have increased 10-30% over the last three decades. Furthermore, individuals experiencing high stress levels over extended periods of time are at a higher risk for autoimmune disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we’re sharing solutions for better managing fluctuating stress levels.
One way you can keep stress levels in check is by practicing healthier eating habits. Refined sugars and complex carbohydrates have been found to intensify stress. While fish, like salmon and sardines, eggs, pumpkin seeds and dark leafy greens, including watercress, can assist the body in minimizing inflammation–which can be onset by both emotional and physical stressors. Researcher Joe Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health in a NPR article about stress and diet says, “You can either be good at weathering stress or you can be brittle. And omega-3s [can help] make your stress system more flexible.”
Despite how insurmountable making dramatic lifestyle changes to combat stress while working, raising a family or running a household may seem, small steps can make a big impact and improve your overall health. Start with a bit of planning.
Instead of reaching for convenient, sugary treats and preservative-laden fast food when you’re on the go, prepare and store nutrient dense, omega-3-rich meals in advance and store in tote-able containers. We recommend Whole Living’s Watercress Salad with Sardines, Oranges and Pepitas and Bon Appetit’s Pan-Seared Sausage with Lady Apples and Watercress, brimming with foods that contribute to a healthy immune system. Bonus: Olive oil-packed fish like sardines are affordable alternatives to their more expensive wild-caught cousins while offering similar health benefits.
For more stress-management tips, read “Healthy Eating to Decrease Stress” on WebMD.