How to Manage Stress in Life with Food, Herbs & More

Everyone learns how to manage stress in life differently. 

For some, it’s exercising daily. Some may like to journal or go to therapy. For others, it’s turning to their favorite comfort foods. 

No matter where you fall on the stress management spectrum, just know you can learn how to manage stress in life by doing what works for you. That may mean combining a variety of options. 

If that sounds more like your idea of a good stress management plan, you’ll love this post. 

In today’s blog, we cover how out-of-control stress impacts your health. Plus, you’ll discover a variety of ways on how to manage stress in life with food, herbs & more. 

Why You Need to Learn How to Manage Stress in Life 

No one enjoys being stressed out. While stress impacts everyone in different ways, when it’s an ongoing concern, it can overload the body. 

Signs you may be overly stressed: 

  • You’re feeling anxious often 
  • You’re having panic attacks
  • You’re irritated and moody
  • You’re having skin issues 
  • You’re not sleeping well 

You may also notice physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, and more. 

Chronic, negative stress not only can impact personal and professional relationships, but it can cause serious health concerns. Ongoing stress has been linked to issues like heart disease, insomnia, and high blood pressure. 

Thankfully, there are natural ways you can learn how to manage stress in life. Stress management can look however you want it to and doesn’t need to be a prescribed program. 

Here’s a look at a few options that include foods, herbs, spices, and alternative activities to reduce your daily stress load. 

Foods That Reduce Stress 

avocado salmon nuts and berries on a white background

 

You know stress eating isn’t good, but have you tried mindfully eating for stress relief? Here’s a look at the ways you can incorporate healthy foods into your diet to relieve stress without doing it mindlessly. 

Avocado 

This green fruit — yes, it’s a fruit! — is considered a top stress-relieving food thanks to its vitamin B content. These essential B vitamins are necessary for the creation of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Plus, avocados have omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce both anxiety and stress. 

Dark Chocolate 

For those who love chocolate, there’s probably a good reason other than it tastes delicious — it’s a great stress reducer! Researchers found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks was responsible for reducing stress hormones. Plus, it’s known to have a positive impact on gut health, which is known to have an effect on mood, too.

Fatty Fish 

Eating three servings of salmon per week could help improve omega-3 fatty acid intake and potentially improve mood. Other fatty fish high in omega-3 include lake trout, herring, cod, sardine, and Atlantic mackerel. Additionally, a 2013 study found fish oil is helpful in reducing adrenaline and cortisol levels related to stress, too. 

Not a fish person? Supplements — like those containing sea buckthorn berry — can be beneficial in getting a proper omega-3 intake.

Fermented Foods 

If you’re dealing with anxiety that causes your stress levels to rise, give fermented foods a try. One study found those who regularly consumed fermented foods — like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, etc. — had less social anxiety symptoms. The probiotic-rich foods have a positive impact on gut bacteria which has a direct correlation to elevated mood, according to a 2014 Journal of Physiological Anthropology study

High-Fiber Options 

A 2018 review published in Nutritional Neuroscience concluded that a high-fiber diet is good for mood improvement. The review uncovered that high-fiber diets may be able to reduce stress, anxiety, and even depression. Need to add a little more fiber to your diet anyway? Foods naturally high in fiber include avocados, almonds, fresh raspberries, pears, and cooked black beans.

Nuts 

These tiny powerhouses of nutrients are not only excellent snack choices but also perfect for mood-boosting. Enjoy a handful of pistachios, pecans, walnuts, and almonds to keep your cortisol levels in check. Brazil nuts — which are high in selenium — can reduce inflammation and also help improve mood. 

Want more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet? Check out this anti-inflammatory foods list.  

Reishi Mushroom 

This mushroom is popular in Eastern medicine as it brings the body’s systems back into balance. 

Reishi mushrooms contain a compound called triterpene, which is a mood-boosting compound thought to alleviate issues like anxiety and depression. 

Seaweed 

Seaweed, a type of algae from the sea, is nutritious and full of fiber. Thanks to its fiber content — much higher than many fruits and veggies — the gut uses it to promote good gut bacteria. These nourish the digestive tract and keep it in balance, which is essential for a stabilized mood.

Vitamin C-Rich Foods 

Aside from being great immune boosters, vitamin C-rich foods are also mood boosters. This includes citrus like oranges, limes, and lemons. Other vitamin C-heavyweights include strawberries, acerola cherries, bell peppers, and goji berries. 

Herbs and Spices That Reduce Stress 

You can also take herbal supplements in addition to eating foods that are naturally good for stress relief. While these herbs won’t magically take away your stress, since they are considered adaptogens, they can help you better “adapt” to handling it. 

Ashwagandha

If you want to lower your stress by reducing your anxiety, ashwagandha is one way to do it. As an adaptogen and medicinal herb, it helps the body better adapt to handling stress. If you’re chronically stressed due to parenting demands, work projects, or life in general, ashwagandha supplements may help you. 

Chamomile 

This daisy-like flower is a favorite main ingredient in calming teas. For those with generalized anxiety disorder, it may offer relief. A 2016 study published in Phytomedicine found long-term use of chamomile extract can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms.  

Ginseng

For centuries, this plant has been used in Chinese medicine to help a variety of ailments. Most notably, it’s known to suppress psychological conditions like anxiety and depression. Research indicates that Panax ginseng (known as Asian, Chinese, or Korean ginseng, too), usage can potentially stabilize the nervous system response. 

Kava Kava

This plant extract is a favorite herbal remedy among those who need stress relief. Some favor it as a way to get a better night’s sleep thanks to its calming effect. It can be taken in a capsule, boiled into a tea, or mixed with water as a nighttime beverage. It also is used for its mild anxiety-reducing benefits, too. 

Lavender

As one of the top aromatherapy scents, lavender is an excellent fragrance oil to promote relaxation. Whether you diffuse it or consume it, the powerful properties of this plant are known to help those dealing with insomnia or restlessness. Consider trying it before bed to calm yourself and settle into your evening routine.

Lemongrass 

Not only is lemongrass oil used to help treat conditions like high blood pressure and digestive concerns, but it’s also a favorite aromatherapy option to reduce stress. In some clinical trials, the inhaling of lemongrass essential oil proved to have positive effects on reducing anxiety.

Lemon Balm 

If you’re wound up and feeling overwhelmed, lemon balm is a great go-to herb to help induce relaxation. Early research indicates a single lemon balm dose can increase alertness and calmness for stressed-out adults. Other positive effects of consuming lemon balm infused foods or drinks can also improve memory for mental tests. 

Passionflower 

Also known as maypop, apricot vine, maracuja, and water lemon, this climbing vine was used by early Native Americans as a sedative. Today, you’ll find it in a variety of products to help with anxiety and sleep issues. You can find passionflower in herbal teas and dietary supplements as the easiest way to include it into your nighttime relaxation routine.

Turmeric 

Curcumin is a powerful compound that makes this root bright yellow and gives turmeric all its benefits. This compound is also thought to be responsible for making turmeric a sort of natural mood booster thanks to its ability to potentially increase dopamine and serotonin levels. 

Note: Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist prior to mixing herbal supplements with prescribed medications to avoid interactions.

Alternative Ways to Reduce Stress 

Adaptogen health food collection with fruit, herbs, spices & supplement powders

 

As many ways as there are to be stressed out, there are opportunities to relieve stress. Other than eating and drinking your way to stress-relief, you can pair your favorite edible remedies with some of the activities below. 

Try some of these ideas to relieve anxiety, overwhelm, and stress: 

Acupressure 

Certain pressure points are known to relieve stress. By targeting specific areas of the body, you release natural endorphins for a mood boost. All with the press of a finger! Here’s a visual guide of areas to pinpoint if you’re open to trying it on yourself.

Meditate 

Studies have proven again and again that meditation is a great stress reliever. Not only does it calm the mind, but it encourages stillness in the body, too. There are a variety of meditation methods — from guided options to body scans — that can help you quiet your mind and reduce stress quickly.

Exercise 

Bust stress with your favorite movement. Whether you love to walk, jog, box, or dance, exercise is an excellent stress reliever. When you get blood pumping throughout your body, you also release your “feel good” hormones and get an instant mood boost.

Get a Massage

Massage relieves muscle tension and is known to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Even if local massage services aren’t available to you right now, you have a few options to do it at home. You can buy a massage tool or have a loved one rub your shoulders or tense muscles to calm your nerves and release tension. 

Call a Friend 

Connecting with a friend is a great way to cope with life stressors. It’s important to have close friends to chat with when you’re in stressful situations. Positive and supportive friends can provide you a new outlook and ease your worries. 

Listen to Nature Sounds

The sound of nature — the crash of ocean waves or the chirping of birds — may have a positive impact even if you’re only listening to a recording. Studies have shown that natural sounds decrease the “fight-or-flight” feeling and help the body relax. Head outdoors or find a nature-inspired music station to listen to when you need to reduce stress.

Learn How To Manage Stress on Your Terms

Last but not least, it’s important for you to take the time to embrace self-care. 

That includes making time for stress-reducing activities and practices. Whether you like to manage your life’s stressors with healthy food options, herbs, supplements, or other activities, choose what works for you. 

Good self-care practices mean you’re willing to take the time to focus on your physical, emotional, and mental health to tackle stress before it gets out of hand. This list is just a starting point for learning how to best manage stress in your life. 

Lastly, if you ever feel the stress is too much, you can always opt to speak with a licensed counselor or even your primary doctor. Getting help means you’re on the right path to feeling better and less stressed — and that’s always a good thing for your overall health! 

What are some of your favorite ways to manage stress in life? Share with us in the comments below!


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