Best Foods to Fight Stress and Depression
Stress and anxiety are no doubt a part of anyone’s life, and in some extreme cases, you may need a doctor’s care when dealing with depression. However, for most people, a few simple calming foods can be all that’s needed when feeling a bit anxious, or for when you need a boost of energy to get you out of a blue mood. Remember that calming foods are different than what you might call comfort foods, as some foods may make you feel better but will be packed full of empty calories but no nutrition! When you need some stress reduction or are looking for healthy, natural ways to relieve stress, check out these 9 foods that will not only make you feel better but which offer the nutrition you need for strong mental health.
The antioxidants in chocolate, and especially dark chocolate, can help with anxiety symptoms and stress management. These trace minerals work to fight off diseases and keep you strong and healthy; when you’re physically strong, you may have more energy to exercise and otherwise keep yourself active so that you don’t give in to your symptoms of depression. The small amount of sugar in chocolate can also help with your energy levels, but of course it can also pack on the pounds if you’re not careful! Have a small piece of chocolate for stress reduction rather than a whole bag of M&M’s or another sugary treat.
Sunshine isn’t technically a food but it is absorbed in your body through the skin. Exposure to sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which is one of the building blocks of healthy bones. Good bones can mean the support you need for exercise and physical activity, both essential when you’re dealing with depression. The warmth of sun on your skin can also make you feel energized so you’re more likely to get outside and get active; in turn, your body releases endorphins and other stress relievers that can fend off anxiety and depression. During the winter months, be sure you open blinds and curtains and keep your home’s windows clean for maximum sun exposure.
Asparagus is high in folic acid, one of the B vitamins your body needs for better mental health and more energy. Asparagus is also chockfull of fiber, which helps to break down other foods in your digestive system. In turn, your body is able to absorb more of their vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids. These added nutrients can also help as a treatment for depression so you feel better and have a better mood overall.
Avocados may rightly be called a “super food” because of all the vitamins, trace minerals, and antioxidants they contain. The natural oils in this sweet fruit help to lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol so that you have better blood circulation; more blood to the brain can mean better mental health! Potassium can also help control your moods, and you can find it in abundance in avocados. Their sweet taste can also be an instant comfort when struggling with symptoms of depression.
Blueberries have their distinct, dark color because they are packed with antioxidants that are needed for better health, including better mental health. These little berries have a very high concentration of vitamin C, which bolsters your immune system and provides you with lots of energy. They also have a sweet taste that can be instantly comforting when you need a quick stress reliever.
Oranges are known for being full of healthy vitamin C, and this is one of the best supports for strong physical and mental health. The sugar in oranges can also give you energy and a comforting sweet taste you may crave when feeling low. These fruits are also a good source of healthy fiber and, when dealing with depression, you definitely don’t want to get sluggish! Have an orange as your afternoon snack when you start to get tired and fatigued, as this is one of the best ways to relieve stress that you might feel once your morning caffeine starts to wear off.
The natural oils in nuts are needed for strong mental health, and many nut varieties are packed with potassium and magnesium, both of which fight off anxiety symptoms. For the strongest concentration of healthy vitamins and natural oils, reach for cashews, walnuts, and pistachios. Since this little snack can also be high in calories, be sure you make note of how much you’re eating, or portion out a small amount of nuts into zipper bags so you can grab a snack and go.
- Organic meats
Meats have the protein you need for energy, and iron to support blood circulation, both of which are needed when dealing with depression. It also takes your body longer to break down and digest meat than it does many other foods, so you feel full longer. This can help you to avoid those fattening comfort foods that you might be tempted to reach for as a quick treatment for depression, or when you need some stress reduction. Opt for organic meats so you avoid ingesting chemicals, artificial hormones, and other additives often fed to diary animals.
Tea leaves have a very high concentration of antioxidants that fend off diseases, protect healthy cells, and bolster strong mental health. The soothing warmth of tea can also make you feel relaxed when you’re otherwise stressed and anxious. Most teas have lower amount of caffeine than coffee, and reducing your caffeine intake may be needed when dealing with depression, panic, anxiety, or nervousness. Green tea may have the most antioxidants, but the aroma of mint tea or a fruit tea can be very soothing and relaxing, especially if you get symptoms of depression during wintertime when the sun is scarce and the weather is cold.
Remember that none of these foods should be considered a substitute for your doctor’s advice or any medication he or she might prescribe, as sometimes medical intervention is the only way to address a severe emotional or mental illness. However, for mild stress and anxiety, try including these foods in your everyday diet. You may find that they help to bolster your mood and give you the energy you need to protect your overall mental health!