2 Great Stress Remedies About Food

Sounds simple. Eat well. Sleep well. Most of us know this. Many don’t do this — and then complain about being stressed.

Not everyone is complaining about stress. CNN’s Harry Enten reported on 7/16/22 that, although 77% of respondents think the country is going in the wrong direction, 73% said they actually experienced “a lot of happiness yesterday.”

Still, The American Institute of Stress wants us to know that the “global pandemic, inflation, money issues and the war in Ukraine have pushed U.S. stress to alarming levels.” And then there are the everyday issues and challenges likely made even harder in the context of all of that other stress.

The American Institute of Stress reports “94% of workers reporting feeling stress at work.” Since this is a 2022 report, I am not sure what “at work” means exactly, or whether they meant to say “about work” instead.

So, for example, one client wants to scale his business. His method is harder not smarter, as he goes all day without food, “no time to eat,” and then works like a dog on his home office computer smack up until he tries to go to sleep but can’t.

Another just lost a family member. She has what they call “Grief Brain” and can’t seem to focus on any of her work/life goals anymore because the normal grieving and healing process impacts concentration and cognition, making it hard to focus on anything other than her grief. Knowing that this is normal should help her.

But guess what she’s been doing up to this point in an effort to help herself. She has been self-medicating with a Schedule 1 substance that is completely messing up the food and sleep that could help nourish her back to health. She has lost weight, is not sleeping, and wondering if and when she will ever feel well again. Not like that she won’t, so we are going to turn that around.

If you happen to be curious about how stressed you might be, you can go here and take the Rosch Stress Profiler or Stress Mastery Questionnaire to stress test yourself. In any case, you get the idea — people faced with ordinary life challenges in a world of relentless uncertainty — are trying to get through the day in the best ways they know how.

And I just found some data on food that I think could help.

One study showed how much food impacts mood. That is, people who ate more nutrient poor savoury snacks (crisps) tended to be more anxious and have more cognitive failures (e.g., forgetting), which then made them more anxious.

Fruit, on the other hand, not how much but how often we ate fruit, seemed to correlate well lower depression and higher mental well-being scores. Interestingly, the benefits were not as true for vegetables, which showed no direct link with psychological health. The thinking here is that the benefits to psychological health of the veggies might have gotten cooked out of the equation, since more vegetables than fruit are eaten cooked.

Bear in mind that poor eating disrupts sleep — and vice versa — so it’s important to take care of both. Here and hereare a couple of posts I wrote myself with some science on sleep. And there is so much on the internet about how to eat and sleep, no need to unpack that any further for now. But here’s my take.

Clearly, we are not all alike. Some of us need more or less sleep than others, and there are many nourishing foods from which to choose, depending on our needs and preferences over time. That said, what does not change, and I believe is true for all, is that our bodies are an instrument for our use, in our service to self and others, and it is our right and responsibility to treat it and keep it well. So, I would like to finish this up with something from an earlier post, “Utopia or Dystopia: Depends on Who’s In Charge”:

Once I attended an interfaith meeting at Harvard. The Hindu Swami gave a fantastic talk about how sometimes we have to show ourselves that we are in charge. So, for example, if you can’t imagine starting your day without coffee, take a week off, just to show the body or the coffee who’s in charge.

Maybe it’s savoury crisps. Maybe it’s simply too much of something good for you but, again, just too much. Let’s see who’s the boss in charge of our well-being during these extraordinarily stressful times. Practice, practice, practice…and let us know what you find.

Warmly,

Madelaine

Photo by Pexels Sveta Glodan

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Madelaine Weiss

Madelaine Weiss

Licensed Psychotherapist, Board Certified Executive, Career, Life Coach. LICSW, MBA, BCC