Eat And Be Happy

Eat And Be Happy

Anti-Anxiety Foods to Erase the Stress From Your Holiday Season!
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The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year, but unfortunately, for many it comes with a lot of stress. Not only can this anxiety ruin your holiday, but it can wreak havoc on the healthy lifestyle you’re trying to achieve. A stressed body does not perform the way it’s supposed to, and it pushes your fitness goals further away, even when you are doing everything else you’re supposed to do.

So how can you combat this? There are the usual suggestions, such as incorporating yoga and meditation into your daily routine, diffusing lavender essential oil, and taking time out of your day for self-care. But I have another suggestion: Eat for your anxiety. Yes, you can do this. There are foods that induce stress, and those that don’t. For example, foods high in Vitamin B, such as chicken, citrus fruits, and eggs, have been shown to reduce depression. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm, can be stimulated by eating foods with tryptophan, such as turkey, bananas, and oats. Foods high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, have also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress.

Depressants and caffeinated foods and beverages, such as coffee and alcohol, should be avoided. Unfortunately, the buzz and happy feeling these foods provide is only temporary. Caffeine can limit serotonin levels, which leads to depression, and both of these beverages are diuretics, meaning they dehydrate your body. And when your body is dehydrated, it’s not happy.The biggest area of conflict in eating for happiness refers to how carbohydrates affect the body. For years, carbs have been known as the ultimate comfort food. I am happy to inform you that carbs can definitely be a great way to reduce stress – you just have to eat the right ones. Whole grains slowly release sugar into the bloodstream, keeping you feeling lively, while increasing serotonin levels in the brain to make you happy. High processed and sugary carbs, while providing a quick high, ultimately bring you down as the body struggles to increase insulin to remove the excess sugar from the bloodstream, which causes you to feel tired rather than happy.

So there you have it – a list of healthy foods to help

you keep this holiday season joyful. Remember to stay strong in the pursuit of your goals, but, most importantly, enjoy yourself. The holidays are a time to spend time with family and to feel like a kid again. Embrace it. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for a great first year.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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5 Self-Care Tips For When The College Stress Is Beyond Real

Taking care of yourself is essential.

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Lately, self-care has become incredibly trendy, and it seems everyone has a different definition. In my opinion, that's important, because everyone needs to care for themselves in different ways in order to live balanced lives. Here are a few tips I've used in my first month in college when life gets overwhelming.

1. Tea

It's all about the process, and making tea is one of those things that is peaceful from start to finish. Boiling the water, picking a mug, steeping the tea, it may seem silly, but for me, those things are an escape from reality. My favorite kind is peppermint, which is great for your digestion and particularly nice before bed.

2. A cozy sweater

I don't know if this is common for college dorms, but mine is consistently FREEZING. There is nothing I love more than wrapping myself in a giant sweater while I work, clean, etc. And while wearing a comforting sweater may not seem like the most impactful daily practice, I am a firm believer that it's the little things that count.

3. Gratitude

Say a little gratitude for your day, even it's only for a few seconds. For me, this looks like prayer, but I realize not everyone is spiritual. I still think that practicing thankfulness is incredibly important and can be grounding when we get caught up in all the things we have to do.

4. Books

While scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and the like is the easiest passive activity on the planet, and one that I fall into too often, it steals away time and often leaves us wondering why we aren't doing something better than looking at social media. I like books because they are concrete. You can hold them in your hands and smell the pages and clutch them tightly when its raining because they're fragile enough to be damaged. Books have a sense of permanence that other mediums do not and they are a pleasant break from other daily activities.

5. Calling someone you love

This is important. So much of college is unfamiliar and sometimes you just need to vent or hear about someone else's life. In the past, I've heard that you should focus on making new friends in college and not talk to your high school friends, but I've found the transition much easier when I check up with old friends and see how they're doing. College is all about customizing the kind of lifestyle you want for yourself and that includes keeping long-time friends in my life.

At the end of the day, all of these things are helpful, but they don't make or break the outcome of my day. Self-care has always been about the small steps for me because together, those small things shape the kind of life I choose to lead.

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