For the last few weeks, I’ve been waking up every night with heart palpitations. As a sleep walker who suffers from the occasional night terror, I’m no stranger to a bit of nocturnal activity, but much to my husband’s delight, this is a new one to add to my repertoire. Somewhere between 2am and 3am, my heart is literally waking me up out of my sleep by beating so hard and fast that it seems like I can actually hear it thumping away in there. Of course, my anxious mind then convinces me that I’m having a heart attack and while some nights I can talk myself out of it, on others I’ve just gotta roll with what often becomes panic attack city. It’s annoying, but I’m pretty certain it’s just my body’s way of coping with stress.
The thing is, none of us are immune to stress; we all have it in varying degrees and cope with it in different ways. Some people swear by meditation, others by physical activity and some just like to push it to the side until their body actually forces them to deal with it by physically manifesting something. What we do know for sure is that living a life that is dominated by stress is not healthy for any of us.
If you don’t have time to head to a yoga retreat to find your inner zen or you just want a little something to take the edge off, some simple dietary changes could be something to consider. Self magazine recently released a list of the best and worst foods to eat when you’re feeling stressed and here’s your handy guide for next time you hit the supermarket. Good thing I love avos….
Refined sugar: No surprises here, right? The peaks and troughs of sugar highs and crashes can leave you feeling irritable and cranky. Sweet tooths, you may want to consider sourcing your saccharin hits from a natural source or even use a natural substitute like Stevia in your daily cups of tea. Every little bit helps.
Salt: My biggest struggle….because I like my food as salty as my little tongue can take. Eating highly-salted foods can raise your blood pressure and also lead to bloating that can leave you feeling sluggish and bleurgh. Boo!
Caffeine: Sorry coffee-loving cats, but we all know it. Caffeine can leave some people a jittery, anxious bundle of nerves but let’s face it: NOT having coffee could make this situation even worse for those of us who are addicted to the good stuff. Maybe try at least cutting down or switching up a couple of cups with a decaf variety or better yet – a herbal tea? Yeah, I know you’re rolling your eyes right now.
Magnesium: Our high fat faves are filled with this stuff! Magnesium helps to combat fatigue and is also said to assist with headaches – because don’t we all get these nowadays? Think nuts, fish, seeds, avocado, whole grains, dark chocolate, bananas and dried fruit. Just go easy of this one because too much can cause diarrhoea as the body tries to eliminate the excess. Gross.
Probiotics: We’re learning more every day about how vital gut health is to our overall wellness. A healthy gut is one that is rich in probiotics so consider adding foods like garlic, onion and asparagus to the menu. They’ll probably make you (and your wee in the case of asparagus) stink, but that’s a small price to pay! Other foods to consider are Kefir, sauerkraut or fermented veggies, miso soup, tempeh and DARK CHOCOLATE. Yum!
Potassium: This vitamin, which is most commonly found in bananas, is said to help reverse the effects of a high sodium diet by providing the body with hydrating electrolytes. You can also find it in dark leafy greens, mushrooms, potatoes, yogurt, fish and avos.
Vitamin C: Food rich in Vitamin C can pep-up your immune system, which makes you less inclined to pick up every bug that seems to be going around at the moment. Foods like oranges, kale, red peppers, strawberries, grapefruit, broccoli and brussell sprouts are all high in Vitamin C so don’t forget to have your daily hit.
Herbal teas: These babies are made to chill you out. Think calming varieties such as chamomile, peppermint, green, lemon balm and passion flower. You can even find blends made specifically to deal with stress, so consider replacing your regular coffee or tea with a couple of these varieties (especially at night) to keep you as serene as can be!
How do you deal with stress?