Lower Holiday Stress with These Foods

Struggling to keep up with travel plans, meal plans and going-out plans can make the holiday season less fun than it’s cracked up to be.

Your social calendar can be two or three times fuller than usual, which can be both exciting and exhausting. Being constantly in and out, up and down and decorating and cleaning up takes its toll on the most energetic and even-keeled among us.

There are many ways to cope with stress, including stretching, meditation and outdoor exercise, all of which takes time.

When time is short, it helps to multitask as much as you can, so try to include foods that boost your brain’s and body’s response to tackling the demands that come along with all the revelry.


These are super easy to integrate into the nut mixes everyone seems to keep out over the holidays and are a magnificent source of magnesium, which fights inflammation and other effects of stress. It’s a crucial element for hundreds of chemical reactions within your body and up to half of Americans don’t get enough of it from their diet. Other magnesium-rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, Swiss chard and dark chocolate.


These can work as an impressive vegetable side dish, either on its own or as part of a vegetable mix. Their impressive nutrition profile includes concentrated levels of fiber, most notably prebiotic fiber, which encourages growth of a healthy gut biome. Two types of prebiotic fiber found in artichokes have been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression when at least 5 grams is consumed daily.


There’s nothing more soothing than a warn bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning, and it turns out the mental health benefits of this whole grain go beyond the temperature it’s served at — it contains slow-burning carbs that form a consistent breeding ground for tryptophan, an amino acid which is synthesized into feel-good serotonin. It’s great for morning or evening, as it also provides decent melatonin levels that promote healthy sleep.


This nutritious herb can be worked into just about any main or side dish you might prepare, and it’s armed with antioxidants that can tame the inflammation and oxidative stress, which is a common symptom of stress and fatigue. Unlike many herbs, the antioxidant content of dried parsley may be higher than fresh parsley.

Sweet potatoes

One of the easiest stress-busting foods to incorporate into big holiday meals, sweet potatoes are an easy swap for their more savory cousins and deliver whole carbs that regulate cortisol, along with chemicals that support your bodily countermeasures against anxiety and stress, including vitamins C and B6, potassium, lycopene and magnesium.


Holiday turkeys may be the only reason most of us have ever heard of tryptophan. Turkeys indeed have high levels of the amino acid that supports production of both serotonin and melatonin. Volumes of webpages have been written to debunk the turkey dinner-holiday nap connection, but some studies have found a link between higher tryptophan levels and reduced levels of stress and depression.