We are all overwhelmed and stressed to the max. Between work, kids, activities, chores, more work, and trying to find time for a social life, there seems to be very little room for relaxation. However, all of our busy habits cause us stress, which can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being.
Even though it may seem like there’s no end in sight to your busy schedule, there are two important ways you can work to reduce your stress without changing your schedule: diet and exercise. We’ve all heard it before – diet and exercise are the key ingredients for living happier and healthier lives, but how exactly do they help? Here are five ways in which eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help you reduce stress.
Top Five Ways Eating Right and Exercising Reduce Stress
1. When you eat balanced meals, your energy levels stabilize and you won’t go through as many dips in energy throughout the day. The more energy you have consistently, the more mentally alert you are, which can help you stay on task and not increase your stress by worrying about forgetting to do something or doing something incorrectly. Incorporating lean proteins into your meals, such as egg whites, low-fat yogurt, fish, or soy can help satisfy your hunger and keep your energy up throughout the day.
2. Eating at consistent times during the day and making sure you eat enough (i.e. don’t skip meals) can once again help stabilize your energy levels. Eating small meals throughout the day also prevent you from binge eating late in the day, which can lead to more stress as a result of feeling guilty about overeating.
3. While you may feel like you rely on the cup of coffee to get your day started, cutting back on the caffeine can actually help you get a better night’s sleep. The more restful your sleep is, the more likely you are to be alert and energized the following day, even if you didn’t get in many hours of sleep. Quality is better than quantity in this case.
4. When you exercise adequately each day (at least 30 minutes of physical activity) your body starts to change (losing weight, getting stronger, etc), which can benefit you emotionally, thus alleviating any stress you have related to your body image or guilt for not working out.
5. On a more biological level, adequate exercise reduces the amount of adrenaline and cortisol created by your body, which decreases stress levels. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which naturally elevate your mood.
It’s All About Balance
By taking just a few extra moments each day to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting enough physical activity, you can dramatically reduce the amount of stress you feel at the end of each day, which will help get you closer to living the healthy and happy life you desire.