Stress Management For Dummies
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How and what you eat at work can make a big difference in your stress level. Eating the wrong foods, or even eating the right foods in the wrong amounts or at the wrong times, can make it harder for you to cope with the stress in your life.

Also, when you eat poorly, your body doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. Low levels of blood sugar can result in feelings of anxiety and irritability. Poor eating habits can also leave you unnecessarily fatigued. Over-eating during the workday can leave you lethargic and sleepy.

All this means that you’re not in the best position to handle all the pressures and demands you must face at work. Here are some ideas and suggestions that can help make what you eat an ally in your battle against stress, and not the enemy.

Make your lunch break a stress break

Lunchtime isn’t only about eating; it’s a great time to work on lowering your stress. Try to get out of your work environment at lunch. Even if the outing is as simple as going for a walk around the block, go. Better yet, find a park, library, waterfront — anything relaxing — that can put you (however temporarily) into a different frame of mind. Find your lunchtime oasis.

Work it out

If you can swing it, one of the better things to do on your lunch break is to hit the gym or health club. Many are conveniently located near work sites. Work up a sweat, take a shower, and then have a quick but nourishing bite to eat.

Avoid the (jelly) beans

While they are admittedly colorful, having gobs of candy at hand may not help you with your stress. A sugar fix energizes you in the short run but leaves you flagging later in the day. You’re better off avoiding this and any other candy. If you need a pick-me-up, try to choose something from the list in the nearby sidebar.

The coffee-free coffee break

The caffeine in two cups of coffee can increase your heart rate by as much as 15 beats per minute. It can also make you irritable and nervous. So forgo that third or fourth cup of coffee (and donut). Instead, eat something that adds to your body’s ability to cope, such as a:

  • Cup of low-fat yogurt.

  • Cup of fruit salad.

  • Handful of mixed nuts.

  • Piece of chocolate (one piece!).

  • Piece of fruit.

  • Cup of herbal tea.

  • Glass of water (You need to hydrate!).

  • And, if you must have that nth cup of coffee, at least try going the unleaded (decaffeinated) route.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Allen Elkin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the director of The Stress Management & Counseling Center in New York City. Nationally known for his expertise in the field of stress and emotional disorders, he has appeared frequently on Today, Good Morning America, and Good Day New York.

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