Stress. Just reading the word elicits a reaction in the mind and body.

Believe it or not, there are both good and bad types of stress. The definition of stress is the body’s ability to react to a challenge and usually elicits a feeling of being uncomfortable. It could be good, or it could be bad. Stress is the body’s way of deciding if it will “fight or flight.” Good stress can come about when you are excited or anticipating something fun or happy. Bad stress is precisely the opposite – anticipating or thinking about something negative. Bad stress happens when our coping skills get overwhelmed, and it seems difficult to deal with a situation.

Here are some tips for managing stress from every angle.

  • Talk to someone. Talking through problems and stressful situations allows us to get comforted by others and see things from another perspective.
  • Do something you love. Making sure to include something that makes you happy, like coloring, exercising, reading, or drawing, can help take your mind off of what is causing you stress.
  • Watch what you eat. Believe it or not, the foods we eat can affect how we deal with stress.
    • Eat high fiber, complex carbohydrate foods, always including fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water. When eating these kinds of foods, the body releases serotonin. This hormone provides relaxation and helps us feel fuller longer, preventing binging on foods that contribute to stress.
    • To avoid new feelings of stress: Reduce your intake of high-fat, processed foods. Avoid caffeine and limit sugar. These foods negatively affect our ability to deal with stress and cause “crashing” after consuming them.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins are considered the “feel-good hormone” and can positively affect your ability to deal with stress and stressful situations.
  • Try taking a timeout. Perhaps you need to walk away from a situation or take a timeout by practicing some guided meditation, reading, or listening to music. Taking a break from what is causing stress, will allow you time to rethink what is going on and perhaps come up with a plan to conquer it.
  • Get enough sleep. Trying to get 8-10 hours of sleep per night will ensure that you are well-rested and ready for the day.

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Rebecca Herrmann, RDN, LDN

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