It's 6.00am, Dean Martin's 'Mambo Italiano' is blasting through my iPhone, you know the song, "Hey mambo, mambo Italiano, hey mambo, mambo Italiano, go-go-go you mixed up Siciliano, all you Calabrese do the mambo like-a crazy".
My eyes are dry and sore, my head is dull and I keep my phone on the other side of the room so that I actually have to get out of bed to turn it off – otherwise, I'll just hit snooze over and over again. "Hey mambo, mambo Italiano", the lyrics are pounding my brain cells, but it's time to get up! I drag myself out of bed almost tripping over my laptop I left on the floor from my late night sleepy eyed email-check from bed.
Next, I quickly check the weather on my phone, it's going to be overcast with a chance of rain (not looking forward to going for a run in the rain tonight). I jump in the shower, quickly get dressed before doing my hair and make-up. I grab a cereal bar on the way out the door and on my way to work I stop at a coffee place around the corner from my house for a quick fix (I NEED the coffee before I get to work).
Fast forward to 8am and I'm checking emails, the phones are going off, and the 'muppets' sitting behind me won't shut up and I can hear one of them eating Cheetos (Yes - Cheetos at 8am!).The crinkle of the bag each time she goes in for another handful is making me sick – and then she cranks open a can of coke!
I look up at the office lights and suspect they've put in brighter light-bulbs because I feel like I'm working under flood flights. I reach into my desk draw for my eye drops – hopefully they'll give my eyes some relief from the harsh lighting. I hear another email come in with that little 'pop' sound Outlook Express uses. It's now 9am and clients are brain vomiting into my inbox at full speed – I'm stressed and need another coffee!
This used to be my day, and if this sounds anything like your mornings, then you’re going to need to find some ways to reduce stress. Luckily, you can drastically reduce stress levels simply by opting for healthy food options.
The scenario I described above used to be my typical day. I was working in a high pressured job as an Event Manager for a large travel company and I certainly had a lot on – but what made things worse was the high levels of caffeine, sugar and fats in my diet.
What happens to all of us when we are stressed is that we 'stress eat'. As a way of coping with pressure and anxiety we turn to chocolate bars, chips, soft drinks, energy drinks and my favourite – the latte!
On any given day I would drink 2-3 lattes, which I thought was giving me energy to perform well at work. Granted caffeine is a fantastic stimulant to help increase productivity in small doses, but it is only effective when you are rested and calm. When you have a tired and anxious mind, the opposite is actually true with caffeine. When tired, caffeine can make you dehydrated, shaky, and disoriented – not a great mix while trying to manage a million dollar corporate event.
It's not our fault though that we crave these types of stimulants – we can actually blame evolution for this one. See when we're stressed, we naturally go to the wrong foods because they increase levels of the stress hormone (cortisol). That's why people tend to crave foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. And to make matters worse the foods we usually choose to ‘stress eat’ lead to higher levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin and, at least temporarily, make us think we're beating the blues. But don't be fooled!
So next time you’re feeling stressed at work and want to throw your computer and phone out the window, do yourself a favour and avoid the vending machine and coffee shop for a quick fix – it will only make matters worse! Instead, try one of these stress-busting superfoods.
Reduce stress by selecting these healthy food options:
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
Do you stress eat? What foods help you to reduce stress? Comment below with some of your healthy food options for reducing stress.
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