If you experience some stress in your life, you’re certainly not alone. A new Gallup Poll examining positive and negative experiences has shown that no matter where you live, stress, anger, and sadness are a regular part of life. Unfortunately, these feelings can go further than emotion and impact physical health too.
The study showed that Americans were among the most stressed people in the world, with 55 percent saying they felt a lot of stress the day before the poll. The polls also showed 35 percent of Canadians are feeling a lot of stress, as well.
Stress can play a major role in health conditions like cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, obesity, back pain, and diabetes. If left unchecked, it can be a major contributor to substantial health risks.
There is no one size fits all approach to stress or specific symptoms that might you may experience. It can manifest, and be treated, in a variety of ways among different people. That said, regardless of the symptoms you’re experiencing, there are ways to combat stress.
One of the first is recognizing that stress has physical implications. If you’re experiencing unexplainable joint pain, back pain, or headaches, it could be your body’s response to dealing with the pressure. The same can be said of unexplained weight gain or elevated blood pressure.
Managing stress can take a multi-faceted approach. Attacking the symptoms can help, but ultimately getting to the bottom of your stressors is important. One thing you can do to help make your body more responsive to stress is eating anti-inflammatory foods. Some options include leafy green veggies, healthy fats, colorful fruits and vegetables, and lean, unprocessed meats. A Mediterranean-style diet, for example, might help control your body’s response to stress. Mediterranean-style diets have repeatedly shown to improve heart health, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk for diabetes.
Specific nutrients can either enhance or limit stress. Most “comfort foods” that are greasy or full of refined sugars can provide short-term relief by stimulating serotonin release, but a crash quickly follows. On the other hand, fruits like oranges have been found to reduce levels of stress hormone.
Black tea has also shown it can lower cortisol levels and induce feelings of calmness. Avocado has plenty of potassium and can serve as a high-fat treat. Nuts might also help to calm nerves and provide anti-inflammatory effects.
Stress may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t mean you have to let it degrade your health.