Christmas must be one of the most stressful times of the year. Add in friends and family arriving for dinner and our levels of stress levels invariably go through the roof.
As April sees the beginning of Stress Awareness Month we asked nutritionist Cassandra Barns for some foods that can help bring down our stress levels this Christmas.
While Christmas can be full of fun and festivities, it’s also one of the most stressful times of year for many of us, coping with late nights, present-buying and preparations for the big day. What we eat can make a big difference in how well we handle stress.
Here are five foods that could help calm your nerves and restore your level head.
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Yes, you read it right – chocolate can help you cope with stress. But not because of the comforting sugar hit. Cocoa (or cacao, in its raw form) is high in magnesium, which helps to calm the nervous system, and contains a natural chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that’s associated with good mood. So, for the best stress-busting effects, go for a high-cacao, lower-sugar dark chocolate, like Ombar’s 72% Ombar Luxury Organic Raw Chocolate Bars.
Oats are a great food when it comes to coping with stress. They provide slow-releasing carbohydrates that help keep our blood sugar on an even keel, preventing peaks and dips that can actually trigger more stress hormones to be released and play havoc with our mood and energy, try Nairns Gluten Free Porridge Oats.
One of our best natural sources of magnesium and calcium – both of which can help calm the nervous system.
When you’re looking for a pick-me-up, coffee can be the obvious choice. But its over-stimulating effect can increase our body’s stress response and just make things worse! Green tea is a much better choice: although it does provide a small amount of caffeine, it also contains L-theanine, which has been found to have a relaxing effect on the mind, reduce anxiety, and help with focus and concentration.
These super-seeds are a fantastic source of both magnesium and zinc. Although zinc doesn’t have the direct nerve-relaxing effect that magnesium can, lack of zinc in our diets may contribute to stress-related problems such as anxiety and depression. They’re also a great source of protein, healthy fats and fibre that can help to keep blood sugar stable. As well as snacking on pumpkin seeds, try adding it to smoothies or stir into your porridge.
How do you lower your stress levels over the festive period? You can get in touch with us using the social media buttons or the comments section below.