Stress and anxiety are, unfortunately, a daily occurrence for a lot of people. In fact, the World Health Organisation recently classified "burn out" as an "occupational phenomenon", "a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed".
But keeping an eye on what you're nibbling on can go a long way towards calming your anxiety. That doesn't mean diving straight for a tub of triple choc ice-cream, though; think healthy fats, plenty of vitamins and even a spoonful of yoghurt.
Here are the top foods to eat when you're feeling stressed out:
Avo-cuddle with an avocado! The world's favourite fruit is packed with B vitamins, which can help to relieve stress by promoting healthy nerves and brain cells. And, as a bonus, the monounsaturated fats and potassium can help lower blood pressure. Turkey and avocado sandwich anyone?
How does a indulging in a meal of beef steak help you reduce stress, you ask? It's all about the zinc! Foods rich in zinc have been linked to lowered anxiety; think oysters, cashews, liver, egg yolks and beef.
The humble blueberry is doing more for your health than you think, especially when it comes to your mood. Blueberries are packed with vitamin C, which is known to lower blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone. Munch on the fresh stuff, or incorporate them into your cooking.
A handy source of vitamins B2 and E, almonds can help to boost your immune system when you're under stress. Throw a handful into your next beef and ginger stir-fry for some added crunch.
Seriously, is there anything this fatty fish can't do? Salmon is packed with omega-3 fats which can boost your metabolism while doing great things for healthy brain, heart and joint function. And recent studies show that it helps to reduce anxiety, too.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are high in magnesium, which can help you feel calmer; a dish like scrambled eggs with spinach and salmon is the perfect start to the day. Other great sources of magnesium? Nuts, seeds and whole grains.
You know how you always feel a bit sleepy after your Christmas dinner? That's all down to tryptophan, an amino acid in your favourite festive bird. Tryptophan gets your brain to release serotonin, the body's feel-good chemical which, in turn, promotes calmness and even tiredness.
Recent studies have also shown a link between probiotics and a lowering of social anxiety. So load up on foods like pickles and sauerkraut, as well as generous servings of healthy yoghurt.
Sip a cup of antioxidant-rich green tea to calm your nerves after a hectic day at work. Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is known to enhance your mood by stimulating the production of alpha waves in the brain, leading to stress reduction and a relaxed mind.
This superfruit is not only nutrient-packed but it also acts as a stress buster. Jam packed with potassium, vitamins and nutrients to regulate your heart functions and soothe your digestive system, you will unwind nicely after snacking on one.
Incorporating more sweet potatoes in your diet can be a great way to combat stress and this is due to the fact that the vegetable is magnesium rich. An essential mineral for normal body functioning, magnesium can help reduce body wide inflammation and also helps to level out the body’s stress response system.
Research shows that dark chocolate may help reduce the levels of stress hormones your body produces. It also releases serotonin, a mood-improving chemical also known as the “happy chemical”. It’s okay to indulge in a small piece now and then!
Stressed out by a busy lifestyle that does not allow you to eat proper meals all the time? Supplementing your diet with mutivitamins can help fill in the nutritional gaps.
Swisse Ultivite multivitamins feature formulations specially created using the combination of natural herbs and ingredients with scientific ingredients - and the comprehensive range has formulations to cater to specific age group, gender and needs.
This article was first published in Singapore Women's Weekly.