Relaxing is one of those things that should be easy, but for some reason can be so hard to do. Even when you set aside time for it, you might find yourself worrying about all the to-dos that are piling up. While unwinding may feel like a guilty pleasure, taking time away from work and your chores is actually highly beneficial to your health.
“Relaxation isn't only about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby,” writes the Mayo Clinic Staff. “Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body… help[ing] you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as heart disease and pain.”
The good news is: if relaxing is something that doesn’t always come naturally to you, there are steps you can take to help you kick back––like incorporating stress-relieving foods into your diet.
To get you on your way to eating for better mental health, we reached out to the experts for their favorite foods for calming them down and putting their feet up. Here’s what they recommended:
1. Tart cherries
Tart cherries are a great food source to help you relax. They’re rich in melatonin (the “sleep hormone”), which is naturally released by our bodies in the evening to help us relax and get a good night's sleep.
Research has shown that consuming tart cherry juice raises melatonin levels, which can help you relax and improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Tart cherries may be the perfect food to lean on if you're having trouble winding down at night
Ben Rose, Co-founder of Trainer Academy
Looking for a sweet and dreamy dose of melatonin to help you unwind? KOR’s Sweet Dreams contains 1mg of melatonin for helping you unwind in a big way.
2. The Reishi mushroom
The Reishi mushroom packs a powerful relaxation punch. It has been studied for its ability to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation and is especially effective for transitioning into relaxation before bed.
Reishi is known for being extremely bitter, and the compounds in reshi that give the mushroom its bitter taste are called triterpenoids. These compounds are known for their ability to support our body's parasympathetic nervous system (the part of our nervous system that is responsible for the "rest and digest" processes).
When the parasympathetic nervous system is properly supported via a nutrient dense diet and proper supplementation with herbs or medicinal mushrooms, we can expect to experience feelings of tranquility, calm, and overall relaxation.
Pro tip: Try implementing a Reishi-infused tea or elixir as a nightcap, an hour or so before bed. You'll wake up in the morning feeling rested and refreshed!
Skylar Buchanan, Holistic Nutritionist, Wellthy Life
Looking for a quick dose of relaxation-inducing Reishi mushrooms? KOR Shot’s De-Stress combines this powerful adaptogen with refreshing kiwi and pineapple juices. We like to think of this sweet and subtle elixir as a delicious way to inspire a deeper level of Zen.
The best foods to help you relax are probiotic-rich. Around 90% of your serotonin, one of the happy hormones, is produced in the gut. When it’s taken care of and functioning at its best, the gut also contains bacteria that can inhibit the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
One of my favorite probiotic foods is kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains a mixture of good bacteria and fungi and has benefits that go beyond relaxation. For those that are plant-based, an alternative to kefir is coconut water.
Lynn Gantner, Holistic Health Coach, Ageless Radiance Holistic
Gut-friendly ingredients are just a KOR shot away, with our apple cider vinegar-based Gut Check. Containing coconut water and 1 billion CFU probiotics, this sweet and sour shot can be added to your gut-centric relaxation routine.
Cashews relieve stress in both the body and mind. These delicious kidney-shaped nuts contain a large amount of magnesium, which has been shown to stabilize energy, while relaxing your muscles, nervous system, and cramps. High in serotonin-producing vitamin B6, cashews can elevate your overall mood. So when you want to feel relaxed inside and out, grab a handful!
Marcie Hronis, Health Coach, Faith and Food 360
Research has shown that salmon can have a calming effect on a person. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. They can also travel through the brain to improve mood-related molecules.
Salmon’s anti-inflammatory properties may even help relieve depression. If you don’t eat seafood, there are other sources of omega-3s that can provide a similar mood boost, like nuts and seeds, plant oils, and certain fortified foods.
Jay Cowin, Registered Nutritionist, ASYSTEM
6. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to help people cope with stress and anxiety.
Although the exact mechanism by which dark chocolate reduces stress is unknown, it is high in polyphenols, especially flavonoids, which can reduce neuroinflammation, as well as improve blood flow. Chocolate also contains tryptophan, which the body converts into mood-boosting neurotransmitters, like serotonin, in the brain.
If you're going to buy dark chocolate, go for 70% or higher. Due to the added sugars and fats in dark chocolate, a small serving of one to three grams is recommended.
Mark Kensington, Founder, Tastierr
If you’re looking for a quick way to relax, the ingredients in some of our KOR shots, can help you take your mood to another level of chill. As a quick recap, the experts recommend:
- Sweet Dreams: for 1mg of naturally relaxing melatonin
- Gut Check: for probiotic-rich ingredients that have shown to unleash happy hormones
Relax and let go with expert-approved foods and your favorite shots from KOR!