Someone suffering from stress often either skips or rushes meals, eats junk food or convenience meals and much of the time this may be at their desk as they work. Often people suffering from stress may find that they are not taking time to eat regular balanced meals due to time constraints that they are placed under, for example skipping lunch to finish a task. If this is the case, they may not only want to look at what they are eating but also consider implementing time management techniques. This lack of a well balanced nutritional meal can have an effect on the stress treated by the individual and the symptoms that occurs. Research has shown that particular food types can actually increase the effect of stress whereas others can actually reduce the effects. To reduce stress it is suggested that the daily diet should include:
- carbohydrates such as pasta, cereal, potatoes, brown rice
- potassium which can e found in whole grain, wheatgerm, nuts and also in milk
- but reduce the intake of sugary sweetened foods
Additionally it is advised to ensure that they are drinking enough water as this can also reduce stress. It is suggested that a food diary should be kept to identify any patterns between the food and fluids taken and stress levels, reducing any foods which appear to aggravate stress. It should be noted that the effects from foods and fluids may not appear immediately – they may not be evident until some considerable time later in the day. This diary may also identify any instances where the individual is eating to ease the stress (many people for example will eat snacks when they are stressed and not because they are actually hungry).
It is important to therefore eat well balanced meals regularly and these should be eat away from the desk (in other words, not while performing other tasks). Similarly, regular exercise is advised, so it may be that a lunch break should include a brisk walk after eating. Exercise can help combat the effects of stress, and the good news is that this means any type of exercise whether it is the brisk walk, swimming or spending time at the gym, as all of these can result in decreased blood pressure, lower heart rate , and slow breathing. The reason for this, being that exercise is actually a natural method of reversing the fight or flight reaction. It can promote feelings of well-being and relaxation.
Many people also find that exercise can have a positive effect on their mood. It is these positive feelings that help the individual to deal with stress and its effects in a more positive and efficient manner. It is however suggested that you should not exercise within 3 hours of going to bed as you may find it harder to wind down after exercise. For many people the idea of exercise may be a daunting one at first, but it can be any activity that helps increase fitness such as yoga and tai chi which can be gentle for the beginner, walking, swimming, dance classes or whatever takes your fancy . The activity should be something that you enjoy … stress busting can be fun!