Food for thought: calming stress levels at work

Posted on November 28, 2013

For some people, balancing life demands with daily work commitments can be a struggle. The pressures of getting everything completed on time, hitting tight deadlines and organising workloads can often induce higher levels of stress. Yet many people fail to spot the signs of stress or just obstinately believe they can manage without seeking professional advice.

However when we're stressed we often turn to food to seek solace and forget about our troubles. But when we're stressed out, upset or feeling anxious we don't tend to nit-pick and nibble on healthy salads and fresh fruit. Instead we choose junk foods, aka fatty fodder.

But it's strange isn't it? While junk foods, like crisps and burgers, are often referred to as 'comfort foods' they don't actually help calm our nerves in the slightest. Yes, we may enjoy eating them and believe they're calming us down but in actual fact they've been found to exacerbate our stress levels. And this can become a serious problem if stress manifests for too long: it can cause higher levels of blood pressure and even bouts of depression in some cases.

Many people tend to compensate for eating unhealthily at their desk by heading to the gym or doing some form of exercise after work. While this is great and healthy for the body, becoming active after work won't necessarily help alleviate mental stress while at work. So we need to find a happy compromise¿in the form of food.

We won't bother outlining the plusses of eating healthily because everybody knows they should be trying to adopt a healthier diet anyway. Instead we'll quickly outline five healthy foods that can help offset signs of stress in the workplace.

  1. Salmon

    Salmon contains a lot of Omega 3. All fish do, but the Omega 3 in salmon, which is good for both the brain and for controlling stress-levels, can also reduce inflammation and promote healthy blood flow, both of which are compromised with chronic stress. 

  2. Nuts and seeds

    Like fish, nuts and seeds are also rich in Omega 3. They're also contain high amounts of Omega 6, another fat which is good for the brain. Cashew nuts and sunflower seeds, for example, contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production and can take the edge of a stressful day. A small packet of nuts and seeds on your desk can provide a nice, healthy, afternoon snack. Yum.

  3. Citrus fruit

    Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are a great way to get your vitamin C intake up for the day. We always read and hear about Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost your immune system, but studies have shown that it also helps to reduce stress levels. 

  4. Turkey

    Turkey may be a yearly Christmas one-off but it contains tryptophan, an amino acid, which, as we already know, boosts serotonin production. You can add some slices of turkey to your lunchtime salad or inside a sandwich - lovely.

  5. Spinach

    "Err, not spinach." Spinach may not be the most likable vegetable on the plate but it's jammed packed full of magnesium, a mineral that helps boost your energy levels, so it's ideal for a long day rushing round the office.

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