Strengthen Against Stress
Tips from our Campus Registered Dietitian
to help you feel good
5 nutrients that WILL nourish your noggin
You need a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods to keep you feeling focused, balanced and aid in beating back stress. Here are our
top five nutrients to incorporate daily and the best foods to find them in!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in salmon, anchovies, walnuts and chia, omega-3 fatty acids are a no-brainer
(pun intended) when it comes to fighting stress and anxiety while promoting brain
and heart health.
The members of the vitamin B complex family (including thiamine, riboflavin and biotin)
are essential for keeping energy high while easing stress and improving memory. Find
Bs in dark green veggies, eggs, quinoa, animal-based protein and whole grains.
Sometimes referred to as the original “chill pill,” magnesium helps fight anxiety
and depression by producing and supporting serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps
maintain mood balance. Get magnesium naturally in snacks like nuts, seeds, yogurt,
bananas, dried fruit and dark (60% or higher) chocolate. Boost your intake at meals
by including dark, leafy greens, fish, whole grains, beans, and avocados.
Low zinc levels are linked to irritability, depression and decreased immunity, so
upping your zinc bolsters your body and mind against stress. Find it in seafood (especially
oysters), meat and poultry, spinach, beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas and
whole grains. It becomes more difficult to absorb zinc with age, making these sources
important regular dietary staples.
Vitamin C helps to lower cortisol levels, reduce blood pressure, and plays a role
in producing serotonin. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, sweet potato, cruciferous (broccoli,
cauliflower, kale, cabbage) and green leafy veggies are all good sources of Vitamin
Comfort Foods Vs. What Truly Comforts
While a big ol' bowl of ice cream may seem like exactly what you need when feeling
stressed, it is actually quite the opposite. The excess sugar, saturated fat, trans
fat and simple, processed carbohydrates found in most comfort foods can have some
not-so-soothing effects on your body. Too much is not only linked to unwanted weight
gain and increased risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, but
can also lead to more immediate effects like feeling sluggish or blue and heightened
anxiety. It's far better to reach for food that is loaded with real comfort such as
those mentioned for a healthy dose of omega-3s, magnesium, and vitamin c!
try this to relieve stress RIGHT NOW!
Just breathe. There are major benefits to bringing your attention to your breath.
The rhythm and depth of your breath directly affects your state of mind and overall
health. Try this technique from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine: Close your eyes.
Breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth, saying to yourself "soft"
as you breathe in and "belly" as you breathe out. Continue for five minutes. A good
thing about breathing: you can do it anywhere, anytime and it's free!
MORE SOLUTIONS TO HELP KEEP STRESS AT BAY:
Exercise produces endorphins, linked to feelings of euphoria. Movement also distracts
from stress and balances the negative effects stress has on your immune system.
Massage induces chemical changes that reduce pain and stress in the body. Studies
show that cortisol levels drop after massage.
Meditation allows you to refocus and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that
can crowd your mind and cause stress.
Yoga helps relax the body by releasing muscle tension, flushing the body and brain
with fresh blood and oxygen, and increasing feelings of well-being.
Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy. Giggle lots to release
endorphins and decrease levels of cortisol and adrenaline. Hey, how does the ocean
say hello? It waves!
Aromatherapy signals the brain's olfactory system, causing a release of chemicals
that calm and relax. Try sniffing rosemary or lavender.
We are more connected than ever and it is actually increasing stress and anxiety.
Try scheduling regular "do not disturb" times on your phone and step away from the
Music can lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels. In addition to your favorite
mood-boosting tunes, listen to ocean or nature sounds to relieve stress and transport
9. Take a Break
If none of the above speak to your soul, find what makes your heart sing and be sure
to take some time to do it. Taking time to do what makes you happy (paint, fish, write,
etc.) may be just what you need. Steps away from studying and do what feels good.
Still have questions? E-mail campus dietitian Amanda Reichardt at