Spending Time Outdoors to De-Stress

Our days can be full of hustle and bustle, from long hours at the office to shuttling kids around all evening. It’s easy to see why stress can increase as our free time decreases. While we can’t always control the stress that comes our way, we can work to manage it better. Spending time outside is a beneficial strategy for stress management. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, even just a few minutes, can positively impact the body and mind in many different ways. Lift Your Mood Vitamin D is certainly important for maintaining strong bones, but did you know that recent studies have found it to help improve mood? According to Healthline, research has shown that Vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. If you need a little [...]

Nutrition and Mental Health

  Eating healthy can help us to look and feel our best physically. But little is discussed about how the food we eat can affect our mental health. Eating a diet rich in nutritious foods can help us to feel more alert and think clearly. Well-balanced meals and snacks can also help us to concentrate and improve attention span. On the other hand, eating a diet high in unhealthy foods can affect our brain in a negative way. An inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, impair decision making skills, and slow down reaction time. A poor diet can aggravate or lead to stress and depression. Stress and Depression It has been shown that sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation throughout our bodies. Chronic inflammation can contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to the Academy of [...]

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 1949. Mental health refers to our emotional or psychological wellbeing, and many argue it is the most valuable aspect of health. Mental Health Month was instituted to raise awareness about mental health and signs and symptoms of imbalance that require help from a professional. Mental illness can affect people of any age, including children and adolescents. Our physical and emotional health has been increasingly challenged by the pandemic and other recent events, so maintaining psychological balance is as difficult as it has ever been. Mental illnesses, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, are among the most common conditions in the United States today, affecting one in five Americans at any given time. Despite the huge numbers, many people with emotional illnesses often feel [...]

Make Mental Health a Priority

  May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), “1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.” Mental health affects all ages, from children to adults, and it is part of our overall health and well-being. Let’s explore why mental health is so important and how we can make it a priority. What is Mental Health? First, let’s start by defining mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a “state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Taking care of your mental well-being does not mean an absence of negative emotions or feelings, but it does mean practicing healthy [...]

Stress Eating

The strongest food cravings seem to hit when you are at your weakest point. I’m sure we can all think about a time when the stress of life was piling up, and in turn we coped by eating a pile of cookies. Many people experience stress eating, but making a habit of it can be detrimental to our weight loss goals. There is much power behind the term “stress eating”. Stress, the hormones it releases, and coping strategies involving comfort foods, all can factor into overeating. Research has shown that both stress and weight gain go hand in hand, which is alarming when nearly a fourth of Americans rate their stress as an 8 out of a 10-point scale. So, why do we turn to food in times of stress? Stress Eating, Hunger, and Hormones Appetite can react to stress [...]

Nutrition Review of Meal-Kit Delivery Programs

  Lock us down and Americans will eat it up. Literally! While in quarantine many of us ate like bears preparing for hibernation. More time at home to cook and limited access to grocery stores spawned an explosion of meal-kit delivery programs. Our lead dietitian tried several of them to assess the nutritional value of these “healthy, convenient meals”. Overall, we found these options to be heavy in salt and fat, and low on produce portions. The meals seemed to be kept at a low price-point by substituting processed foods for fruits and vegetables. In several the produce seemed more of a garnish. Upon closer review of each program, we often found that choices classified as “healthy” seemed to have had a very loose definition of health. For example, Marley Spoon has no information on the site as to the [...]

Exercise for Stress Relief

Our days can be full of stressful situations and feelings. No matter how much we’d like to get rid of stress altogether, we find that is virtually impossible. Instead, a more realistic approach is to manage how we react and respond to stress. Exercise has numerous benefits for the body, including stress relief. It increases the body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural pain relievers and encourage feelings of pleasure (Mayo Clinic). Physical activity is a good way to give your mind a rest by focusing on the present moment. It’s known to help improve your mood by lowering feelings of depression and anxiety. When we’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy coping habits like extra snacking or drinking. Exercise provides a healthier choice for coping. Let’s look at several examples of exercises that [...]

Stress… More than Just Frustrating?

Stress. We all face some form of it almost every single day. It can feel like a frustrating or annoying part of life, but did you know that it can affect us mentally and physically? Stress impacts all systems of the body, including our musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, digestive, immune, and cardiovascular systems. Learning how stress can affect our entire body can help us choose better ways to manage it. How Stress Affects the Body Musculoskeletal System. Stress causes muscles to tighten. Over time this can lead to muscle pain and body aches. Chronic tension can be a trigger for headaches and migraines. Respiratory System. Stressful situations can cause rapid breathing. These quick breaths can leave you feeling short of breath and may trigger panic attacks. Nervous System. The nervous system triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and [...]

Sleep Awareness Month

  Had to finish the book, lost down the social media rabbit hole, or “I just can’t sleep”. Any of these sound familiar? People have so many things that occupy their time now, that sleep might be an afterthought for many.  But activity at the cost of sleep is a mistake.  Many people fail to realize that the 25-35% of each day we spend sleeping is productive, and crucial to living an energetic and successful life. Like our diet and exercise habits, it can be difficult to make sleep a priority. Sleep gives our body and mind the chance to repair, rebuild and recover from the events of our daily life. While you sleep, your body repairs itself from the stress of the day. A productive night’s sleep helps our body in several ways: Renews energy. Boosts the immune system [...]

Don’t Stress Out Your Heart

  When we think about heart health, we typically think about habits involving exercise and nutrition. While these both have a huge impact, the effects of stress on the heart often get overlooked. Stress is something that most of us deal with daily. Taking time to manage our stress can greatly improve heart health and lower the risk of adverse effects. When it comes to stress, it is necessary to explore types of stress, how it affects the body, and how to better manage it. Acute vs. Chronic Stress Acute stress stems from a short-term, immediate stressor. It sparks our body’s “flight or fight” response and produces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) which cause elevated heart rate, increased breathing, and contracted muscles that are ready for action. It's natural for our bodies to have this acute response to stress because [...]