While the change in seasons can bring on renewed moods and energy, it can also bring about a whole new set of potential stressors waiting to wreak havoc on our bodies. While some stress can be good for our body, chronic stress and its byproducts can be more harmful than helpful to our overall health.
Combatting stress is doable by incorporating simple, healthy habits into a daily routine. One easy place to start is with food. To say that stress affects eating habits is an understatement. Whether you eat more or less during times of stress, aiming for balanced meals and snacks as much as possible is the key to eating healthier and feeling better both physically and emotionally. A balanced meal should include carbs, protein and fat, with an emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables whenever possible. And remember the snacks!
While no particular fruit or vegetable will specifically help combat stress, increasing our fruit and vegetable intake can improve our overall health, which can lead to less stress. Additionally, fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are the byproduct of stressors in our body, so eating more produce helps fight stress!
Moving our bodies has significant outcomes for our overall health and for combating stress. Not only do we feel better after movement, but activity can also help reduce anxiety and increase cardiovascular fitness. Aiming for at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity five days a week may help reduce stress.1
As always, remember to drink water! Staying hydrated is imperative for good health. The healthier our bodies, the less likely we are to feel the effects of stress. Sixty percent of our body is water, and it plays a crucial role in many processes throughout our body. While our water needs can fluctuate depending on the time of year, age and gender, standard recommendations include about nine cups (72 ounces) of water for women and 13 cups (104 ounces) of water for men.2
Finally, remember to make the end of your day a priority as well. Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise to physical and emotional health. To prevent stress from affecting your rest, consider creating a nighttime routine that starts about 30 minutes before your bedtime. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. On average, adults should aim for about 7 hours of sleep each night.3
Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session to learn more. Hy-Vee dietitians offer various services to help you meet your weight loss and nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
1 Control and Prevention, C.F.D. (2022) How much physical activity do adults need?, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm (Accessed: March 30, 2023).
2 Gordon, RDN, LD, B. and Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN, S. (2022) How much water do you need?, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Available at: https://www.eatright.org/health/essential-nutrients/water/how-much-water-do-you-need (Accessed: March 30, 2023).
3 Control and Prevention, C.for D. (2023) Coping with stress, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/cope-with-stress/index.html (Accessed: March 30, 2023).