Pretty much all of us are stressed out these days. Between increased work hours, family, money issues and homophobic jerks running Russia, it can be hard to relax. The good news is that what you put on your plate can help you feel more calm about the world: there are foods that reduce stress. So in the immortal words of Mr. Freeze…

1. Black Tea

Despite the fact that tea contains caffeine, a cup can actually help you to relax. I was ready to attribute this to tea being magical and able to fix anything, but it’s actually because it lowers your stress-hormone levels. In one study, participants were given either tea or a fake substitute and those who drank the real deal relaxed faster than those who didn’t. I’m of British heritage, so you don’t have to tell me to drink tea twice!

2. Oranges

Most of us know that vitamin C is good for us, particularly in regards to boosting our immune systems. However, it seems that its relaxation properties have been a closely kept secret. In fact, research has shown that large quantities of vitamin C can have a tranquilizing effect. Now that’s what I call stress relief.

In addition, oranges also contain vitamin B, which is known for combating stress.

3. Milk

Milk is high in essential nutrients, and can also effect our mood! For the record, I’m referring to ordinary milk, not the stuff from A Clockwork Orange. Milk contains iodine, which is essential for adequate thyroid function. This is incredibly important because your thyroid gland regulates the majority of your body’s functions, including your mood. In addition to this, the whey protein present in milk is said to alleviate anxiety and thus help you relax.

Warm milk is also known for its calming and sleep-inducing effects; however, research has shown that this is almost entirely psychosomatic. Oh well, if it works, it works!

4. Blueberries

Ironically named, blueberries will actually help you to fight off the blues.

As previously mentioned, vitamin C is a great stress combatant. Blueberries also contain high volumes of the vitamin, which therefore makes them useful to fight stress. In fact, one study has shown that people with higher levels of vitamin C in their bloodstreams showed less signs of mental and physical stress when given challenges.

5. Nutritional Yeast

Alright, so this is a slightly ‘unique’ addition, but I promise it’s not as gross as the name suggests.

Nutritional yeast contains vitamin B6, which helps to produce hormones that induce feelings of well-being. In addition, it contains vitamin B12, which helps with stress relief. Studies also suggest that various B vitamins help us ladies to calm down whilst suffering from PMS. I’m not sure I know how to respond to that.

6. Brazil Nuts

Delicious and NUTritious. (I apologize, that was uncalled for. I couldn’t help myself!)

Similar to milk, Brazil nuts can have an incredibly positive effect on your thyroid gland. This is because they contain a micro-nutrient called selenium that helps your body to function properly. The best part is that selenium is believed to have an almost instantaneous effect. That’s great news if you’re in a hurry to chill out.

7. Avocado

Can you really ever go wrong with avocado? The answer is, “No,” because it’s amazing. Avocados are full of vitamin C, vitamin B, folate, panothenic acid and vitamin B6. All of these nutrients are calming agents that will leave you feeling stress-free. The best part is that the fruit really does go with anything and therefore shouldn’t be restricted to salads. I have it in my morning smoothies and have made delicious ice cream out of it. I would also recommending trying avocado on toast with a drizzle of honey. Delectable!

8. Fish

Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to alleviate mild cases of depression and improve your mood. In addition, salmon also contains high quantities of vitamin B12, which helps your production of serotonin. This is one of the neurotransmitters that aids in feelings of well-being and will therefore help you to relax.

If you’re not a fan of fish, you can still get the same benefits from fish oil tablets.

9. Spinach

Popeye was right on the money with this one. Leafy greens such as spinach contain large quantities of folic acid, which can fight depression and alleviate feelings of fatigue. Furthermore, spinach also contains magnesium, which helps to maintain adequate levels of our old friend serotonin in your system. As we learned previously, this will assist you in chilling out.

10. Dark Chocolate

I swear I’m not just using this as a justification to indulge.

Dark chocolate contains a group of chemicals called N-acylethanolamines that stimulate the channels to your brain. This results in them releasing some of those sweet, sweet endorphins that makes us feel so good. In addition to this, dark chocolate has been known to reduce anxiety in people who are prone to it. So go ahead and have some chocolate—just make sure it’s the dark variety and in a modest amount.

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