I am a worrier—stress, to me, is an unavoidable feeling. Having accepted that fact, I try extra hard to keep my stress levels at bay by exercising and eating right. Everyone deals with stress different, and there are more options than just food and exercise. However, these are options that are very doable and can be started immediately rather than medication or professional services. It is crazy how different your outlook, how you feel, and how you interact with other people changes when you are less stressed.

Exercise

Physical activity is a great way to boost your endorphins (what makes you happy) and distract you from your daily life worries. Even if you are stressed out because you don’t have enough time to sleep, let alone go to the gym, take the time to perform any kind of physical activity; your body will thank you. Even just going for a walk regularly can help increase self-confidence and improve your sleep, which reduces the effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. Start with simple exercise and work your way up to running, biking, or weight lifting (or whatever activity you prefer) to make regular physical activity part of your routine. To help form the habit and stick with exercise it’s important to set yourself goals (which will also lead to a feeling of accomplishment when you can cross them off), and to schedule it into your planner. If you need someone to keep you accountable, recruit a friend into your fitness routine, it will make it harder to find excuses. Any kind of exercise can help you unwind and is the key to reducing stress in your life.

Nutrition

Food can also have an effect on your stress levels. If you are stressed, there is a list of foods to go for instead of satisfying a craving with sugar or carbs. There is no food that will absolutely cure your stress, but when combined with exercise, including some of the foods below can offer some relief. When you are stressed, cortisol levels rise in your brain. Cortisol causes food cravings, and according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, women tend crave carbs, especially sweet foods. Stress also causes many women to accumulate more belly fat by triggering an enzyme in our fat cells that releases more cortisol. It is a dangerous cycle to be on, so sticking to a more healthy food option that will help with stress is better than grabbing that bag of chips that you are craving. There are many foods that offer great nutrition to help reduce stress, here is a list of the most recommended:

Avocado
Berries
Chamomile Tea (also good for when you are trying to go to sleep)
Dark chocolate
Garlic
Oatmeal
Oranges
Nuts
Milk

How do you de-stress?

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References
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/13-healthy-foods-reduce-stress-and-depression
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