By Cassandra Shaffer
From balancing a new schedule and figuring out deadlines to affording expensive textbooks and suffering through awkward introductions, going back to school is unavoidably difficult. When it comes to combating rising stress levels, watching what you eat may help relieve your tension. Did syllabus week leave you feeling completely stressed out about the rest of the semester? Here are some foods that will help you beat back to school stress.
Avocado is rich in stress-relieving B vitamins, which we need for healthy nerves and brain cells. A deficiency in vitamin B is said to cause increased levels of anxiety. The fruit is also loaded with potassium, a mineral that keeps your blood pressure low.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish help manage anxiety hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Oregon State University medical students took omega-3 supplements to test whether or not their feelings of stress would decrease. The students who did take the supplements found that they had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to a group of students who were given placebo pills.
Ever notice that when you get stressed out you also feel more tired, run-down, and even sickly? Stress actually suppresses the immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in blueberries help improve your body’s response to stress and boosts your immunity.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Not to state the obvious, but eating your greens is not only important for your overall health, but also for reducing stress. A study from the University of Otago in New Zealand found that college students tended to feel calmer, happier, and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and swiss chard contain folate. Folate produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical that calms the body.
We’ve been hearing forever that dark chocolate is actually good for us—and it’s true! Regularly eating dark chocolate helps regulate your stress hormones. The antioxidants in cocoa lower your blood pressure and improve circulation. Chocolate also contains sugar (a carbohydrate), so it releases mood-improving serotonin.
Although these foods have components in them that are linked to lowering stress levels and increasing mood-boosting chemicals, there is no cure-all ingredient to living a stress-free life. By learning stress management techniques that work best for you, leaving time in your busy schedule for some necessary “me time”, and watching what you eat (avoiding highly processed and sugary foods), you’ll be sure to tackle this school year in the healthiest way possible!