May 142012
 

Managing Your Stress Through Diet and Exercise

Stress can have a negative impact on your overall health, and therefore, every effort needs to be made to adequately manage it. Although some people manage their stress levels with the help of prescription medications, stress can also frequently be managed through diet and exercise. The foods that you eat have a profound effect on stress levels. For example, eating a diet that is high in sugar and fat can contribute to anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue and headaches. In addition, consuming too much caffeine can significantly increase nervousness, cause palpitations and even contribute to a rise in blood pressure. Avoiding too much alcohol can also help reduce your levels of stress and anxiety.Foods rich in magnesium have a calming effect on the body. Magnesium is known as “nature’s tranquilizer” as is found in broccoli, black beans, tofu, whole grain cereals and halibut. In addition, magnesium is also found in oysters, soy milk, spinach, whole wheat bread and scallops. Supplementing your diet with over-the-counter magnesium supplements can also increase your intake, however, too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and sometimes, abnormal heart rhythms. Always check with your doctor before supplementing your diet with magnesium.

Aerobic exercise encourages blood flow and can substantially improve your mood. It also promotes calmness and a sense of well-being by releasing endorphins, also known as “feel good” chemicals. People should aim for at least thirty minutes of continuous aerobic exercise per day, and should check with their health care providers before starting a new exercise program. Regular exercise also promotes a healthy weight and enhances restful, recuperative sleep. Brisk walking, jogging, bike riding and swimming are good examples of aerobic exercise, as is dancing. Sometimes exercising with another person can motivate you to continue on with your routine. Exercising, although healthy, can be boring. Getting support from another person, or joining a health club can enhance the experience and improve your results.

Other ways to manage your stress levels through diet include consuming herbal teas such as chamomile. This type of herbal tea can sooth jangled nerves, decrease anxiety, promote muscle relaxation and enhance sleep. People who have allergies, however, should talk to their doctors before drinking chamomile tea because doing so can sometimes aggravate existing allergies.

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