Stress takes a physical and mental toll on us which sometimes makes it even harder to deal with even minor inconveniences.  Dealing with stress can bog you down,  make it difficult to concentrate and leave us fatigued and more susceptible to illness.  While some just want to avoid stress for their mental harmony, others need to in order to avoid stress-induced flare-ups of RA, IBS, or Multiple Sclerosis.  No matter what your reason is, there are simple ways to better deal with stress–through diet and exercise.  Knowing what foods help us better deal with stress and getting regular exercise can help us cope before a stressful event even occurs.

Foods high in folate help us combat the effects of stress by helping to stabilize our mood and reducing anxiety.  Asparagus, spinach, avocadoes, broccoli, oranges, beans and lentils are all high in folate so adding them to your regular diet will help you combat or control your stress levels.

Vitamin C also helps us cope with stress because it reduces the secretion of cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it is responsible for relaying the news of stress to all parts of the body and mind.  Vitamin C rich foods like oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green or red peppers and leafy greens like spinach, kale, cabbage and turnip greens.

Zinc helps us maintain ideal hormone levels in the body and even a small deficiency exacerbates the effects of stress on the body.  Foods high in zinc include beef, chicken, seafood, beans, nuts, legumes, cheese, fortified cereals, or potatoes.

Vitamin E is another great helper in the fight against stress because it fights the body’s physical reaction to stress. When your physical reaction to stress disappears, it’s easier to overcome the mental part with positive thinking and calming techniques. Vitamin E is found in almonds, mangoes, broccoli, and corn oil.

Choline is a nutrient that has a calming effect among its many benefits.  Getting choline regularly in your diet can improve your overall stress management.  To get more of this calming nutrient in your diet, try eating more soy beans, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes and lentils.

Improving your mood and state of mind is a big part of relieving stress. Vitamin B12 is great for mood management because it releases endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel-good” hormones that your brain releases after exercise or after receiving certain nutrients. Endorphins improve your mood, can make you feel better about yourself, and may even make you feel euphoric when they are released.   Foods rich in B12 include shellfish, poultry, beef, eggs, cheese, fortified cereals or breads and low-fat dairy products.

Speaking of endorphins, regular exercise helps our bodies release these which have a positive effect on our mood, help us think more clearly and “feel good”.  All of which help us better deal with stress.  Exercise is also a moment we can take for ourselves to think about solutions to what is stressing us out without it being the entire focus of your attention-which also leaves us feeling overwhelmed.