What do you eat?
Medical science is beginning to zero in on specific foods and the chemicals within them that affect stress. A 2003 University of California at San Francisco study found that stress hormones in laboratory rats increased their consumption of sucrose and lard. Once the fats were stored, they sent signals to their brains which decreased the release of stress hormones. That's why eating "comfort foods" like ice cream and sweets are so satisfying when we're stressed or upset.
The Usual Suspects
Don't get us wrong. The creators of Stress Recess love comfort foods (especially sweets!) as much as the next person. However, when we think about reducing our stress we have to look at the choices we make about what we put into our bodies.
Foods that are known to aggravate stress on the body are:
- beef, veal
- eggs, gravy
- lard, cooking fats
- processed cereals
- high salt, high saturated fats
- white flour
Why do they aggravate stress? Generally they increase blood pressure, increase adrenaline, or increase cholesterol (or some combination of all three.) They are also usually comfort foods (except maybe veal, but..who knows?) Comfort foods do help in the short-term, but in the long-term they make things worse.
It's not just about food...
It's important also to take a look at what we expose ourselves to that also contribute to our stress. What you "eat" may also include the kinds of media you are exposed to, the kinds of people you spend time with, and the activities that take your time.
This isn't a diatribe about the "evils of rock 'n roll" music, or an accusation that violent games make people commit voilent acts.
Think about the times you have spent around people who "rub" you the wrong way. How did you feel after you left their company? You probably shook-off the effects fairly quickly afterwards, but there was an effect.
When we spend time with subjects / media / people / activities that have a stress-inducing effect on us, it does affect us. If we're already a little stressed, playing a game can be a great release. Playing a game for long periods of time can increase your stress by keeping the body in a heightened state of alert.
What if you took a break from things that over-stimulate you for a week? What do you think might happen? Suppose you decided you wouldn't listen to anything while you were driving in the car - especially during rush hour? Maybe you could experiment with eating no junk food for a week and see how you feel? Whatever you decide to experiment with, try to keep an open mind. You're not giving it up forever - just for a week. Good luck!
Remember to Think Small
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