It’s the final countdown fellow students! We can finally see the finish line after enduring nearly four months of classes, work, and various volunteer commitments. We are so close, but yet so far. Research papers, presentations, and finals are upon us. I am the first one to admit; I am stressing out!
At the end of our journey here at MSU Denver, most of us want to work in the nutrition field or in healthcare. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very focused on learning how to make others healthier. However, I have somewhat forgot about myself. We have all learned about the negative toll that stress can take on an individual and steps we can take to help prevent it. As students, we have many different roles. Most of us have families, jobs, and multiple other commitments. While we are trying to get through the last couple weeks of the semester, we need to remember how to take care of ourselves by managing our stress and fueling our bodies with healthy foods! So, let’s go over a few things that will come in handy while your wrapping up your semester.
Take a deep breath, and let’s talk about stress. We all know the importance of stress management. We have heard from countless professors the importance of finding coping mechanisms when life gets a little too much to handle. But in all honestly, do we really apply those mechanisms every single time we get overwhelmed or stressed? I will go ahead and be honest, I don’t. It’s extremely important that we are aware of the damage that stress can cause on our bodies if we do not find a way to handle it. Not to stress you out, but stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death including cardiovascular disease and cancer. It has also been reported that nearly one half of all adults suffer adverse affects from stress. We got into this field to help others, but we also need to take care of ourselves in the process. Here are a few of my focus points for handling stress.
1) Determine what is causing your stress: Is your stress work related, school related, or does it involve an upcoming event?
2) Strengthen your support system: Let others know that you may need help, and communicate that with family and friends.
3) Find a coping mechanism: This sounds easier than it is, try meditation, drinking a cup of tea or even going on a short walk to clear your mind.
4) Learn to say “no”: It’s okay to not be able to commit to everything. This is something that I personally struggle with. We all need to learn our barriers and what we can control.
There are also a variety of foods that can help us tame our stress! As nutrition majors, we love to eat so why not fill our plates with stress reducing foods? The first one to bulk up on is complex carbs! Complex carbs prompt the brain to make more seratonin (remember from A & P this is our feel-food chemical). Complex carbs can also make you feel more balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Also, go ahead and kick up your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C does not only boost your immune system but it can also curb the levels of stress hormones in your body. Also, feel free to eat lots and lots of salad! I personally love making (and eating) salads. You can be creative and change them up daily, adding different vegetables, and healthy fats! But why salads, you ask? Because of spinach! Spinach contains a lot of magnesium. If you don’t get a lot of magnesium, it may trigger headaches and fatigue, which could induce your stress or possibly make it worse.
One last suggestion to “over-indulge” in for the remainder of the semester is crisp and crunchy veggies. For example, carrot sticks! When we bite into something crunchy it releases tension in our jaw that we have been accumulating during those hours of studying. It might even be helpful to bring a bag with you to your exam, keeping yourself full while warding off unwanted tension.
I have included a recipe that I have made before and I will probably make again right before finals week! I encourage you to try it out. It’s chocked full of complex carbs, spinach and some crunchy nuts to add a little tension relief! Good luck to everyone on wrapping up your semester, and remember take care of yourself!
1 package of whole wheat pasta
2-2 ½ cups of spinach
½ bundle of parsley
lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
½ cup almond slivers or pine nuts
Cook the pasta in boiling water until finished to your liking. Combine spinach, parsley, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor. Turn your processor on and add the olive oil in a stream until the ingredients are well combined. Feel free to add as much pesto on top of your spaghetti. I top mine with some almond slivers or pine nuts to get that added crunch! You can also add some parimigiano-reggiano cheese to your pesto to make it extra creamy!