This post was edited on May 6, 2017, to add some more foods to the list that are essential for final exams success.
When all you ever want to do is put your creativity to use – write about things you have a passion for, make illustrations that challenge your capabilities – what do you do when the well runs dry? I’ve found that this semester particularly has clearly defined my threshold of stress. There’s only so much creativity you possess, and when five of your six classes require it constantly, it can make you feel like maybe you weren’t creative to begin with. It’s midterms week(? month? feels like it’s somehow always midterms) and my stress is validated by everyone around me.
As someone who loves eating for a purpose, I found that what I really could use is some stress-relieving food. And not stress relieving in the sense of eating a sleeve of Oreos and just saying YOLO, I mean tried and true, make you feel excited to wake up at ungodly hours of the morning to do work kinds of food.
Every list I found was pretty conclusive: eat your fruits and veggies. There were, though, some surprising facts about some foods that are proven stress remedies. These will be the first items to hit the bottom of my Publix shopping cart this week.
- Avocados are loaded with vitamin B, which is paramount to maintaining healthy nerves and cells. Studies show that a vitamin B deficiency can lead to feelings of anxiety. Eating some guac as I write this. You can also get your daily dose of vitamin B in snacks like nuts.
- Red Peppers are high in vitamin C, which lowers blood pressure and helps you not feel drained after a surge of stress. Eat some raw or sauté them up, but this may be the easiest addition to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner routine.
- Oatmeal not only makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, it also quite literally has the same effect on your brain. The complex carb generates serotonin and won’t spike your blood sugar like eating a bag of chips, making you feel calm, cool, and collected.
- Watermelon is super hydrating (duh, I know, it’s in the name) and it will help you bounce back from an exhausting day of homework and studying. Like splashing your face with cold water, watermelon will help you stay alert and focused so you don’t feel the world piling on top of you quite as much.
- Sweet potatoes actually make you more optimistic. Something in the chemical complex of a sweet potato increases positivity, and that is something everyone can always use in a time of stress.
- Chocolate. The remedy is real. Indulge your sweet tooth in some dark chocolate, as it’s the most cocoa-concentrated and least creamy. It will lower your blood pressure and cure just about everything that’s making you feel down. This also goes for ice cream. Or maybe it doesn’t scientifically, but it definitely makes you feel better.
- My favorite “food” when researching stress-relieving foods that I found, was sunshine. While not a food whatsoever, getting your “daily dose” of sunshine is just as important as taking your vitamins or drinking a glass of orange juice each morning. This might not be news, but it has been verified by science that lots of Vitamin D intake via sunshine reduces depression and anxiety rates, which are common occurrences for college students when feeling overwhelmed. There’s no lack of this in Miami, and it’s as free as free gets.
- Blueberries have antioxidants that encourage dopamine production. Increased dopamine levels mean better coordination, memory function, and mood, according to this off-brand WebMD website. Same goes for blackberries, too.
- Salmon and tuna, and other similar fish, help manage your adrenaline levels, which is key in a time of stress and/or panic. So don’t feel bad about treating yourself to some sushi when things are getting hectic. Your body will thank you even if your wallet takes a hit.
- Cashews. This website called them “nature’s prozac,” and while I can’t stop laughing at the title, it’s definitely true. Cashews contain magnesium, tryptophan, and zinc, all of which will help you hold it together when you need it most. While eating more than a handful can make the calories add up, these are a great go-to small snack when you’re in need of chilling out and a snack.