We’ve heard it time and time again that sleep is so important for our wellbeing. On average, a person between the ages of 26-64 needs seven to nine hours every night. While that is easier said than done for most people, anxiety and stress should not be factors preventing you from getting that much needed and deserved shut eye. Anxiety disorders will affect an estimated 31 percent of adults in their lifetime, so it is not unlikely that you find yourself tossing and turning and not getting the adequate amount of rest needed because you can’t quiet your mind and the thoughts keep racing.

Of course, working out and meditating can help keep your worries at bay, but the foods we eat can also have a significant impact on our mental health. By incorporating the following into your diet, it can largely and positively change your mood for the better as well as improve brain function and gut health. Keep reading to learn exactly how these accessible foods at your grocery store can be beneficial in helping you calm your nerves and relax.

Dark chocolate

Though it may be more bitter than sweet, dark chocolate has the capability of reducing depressive symptoms in those who eat it daily. It is also able to increase serotonin and tryptophan levels in our bodies, which in turn leads to improved mental health.

Fermented food

New studies have shown that our mental health and anxiety symptoms can be correlated with our gut health, so eating foods with probiotics (good bacteria) such as miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kefit and kimchi can nurture the gut-brain connection and reduce anxiety levels.

Cherries

A cherry on top of anything is always welcome, and with its rich amount of quercetin, that rings even truer. This antioxidant helps a person feel calm. Studies have noted in the past that eating five or more servings a day can be a mood booster.

Chamomile tea

Aside from the calming nature of sipping a hot cup of tea, chamomile has antibacterial, antioxidant and relaxant properties that assist the body in decreasing anxiety. The flavonoids found in chamomile can also help those with mood disorders.

Green tea

If Chamomile isn’t your preference, green tea also has numerous benefits. First, the L-theanine found in it is an amino acid that can improve your mood. The calming effect also can increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain which aids overall relaxation in the body. Research has shown that L-theanine reduces the heart rate when taken during an anxiety-ridden episode and can help lower cortisol levels caused by anxiety.

Omega-3 rich foods

Salmon, mackerel, sardines and shellfish are all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for overall physical health and improving the brain’s cognitive function. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you also decrease mood disorders.

Avocado

This versatile fruit is packed with nutrients including vitamin B6 and magnesium. Both help to produce serotonin in your brain, which in turn regulates anxiety and increases levels of happiness. They also have a substantial amount of Omega-3.

Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts and so many more have healthy fats that are easily able to be digested. Eating a daily consumption also has benefits for overall brain growth and memory retention as well as the ability to reduce depressive thoughts.

Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt has probiotics and can help with symptoms of stress and anxiety. The “healthy bacteria” assists the body in repairing damaged nerve tissue which is important to reduce those anxious feelings.

Turmeric

Add this spice to your cuisine to get the benefits of its active ingredient curcumin, which is key to reducing inflammation in the brain as well as oxidative stress. Curcumin is known to decrease anxiety while increasing blood antioxidant levels and preventing brain cell damage.

Whole Grains

Oats, barley and bran have prebiotics, which are necessary in the body so probiotics can thrive. Incorporating more whole grains in your diet can help serotonin receptors in your GI tract work better and also reduce risk of chronic disease.

Asparagus

This long-stemmed vegetable has a large amount of folate, which is important to have in the body to combat anxiety and depression. Asparagus is also loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K and has chromium –the trace element needed for healthy skin, bone, muscle, hair and blood.

Turkey

It doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving to enjoy a turkey dinner. We all know that after that holiday meal, most find themselves taking a snooze, and it’s not from overeating. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels that enhances sleep and helps with mood relaxation within the body.

Leafy Greens

How many times have you heard or said, ‘Eat your greens’? Kale, arugula, spinach and Swiss chard, to name a few, have been proven to reduce stress levels with their beta-carotene, vitamin C and magnesium. All of these elements give the body antioxidants to support the brain and assist in lowering anxiety levels.

Milk

Milk does a body good and a mind even better. Drinking a glass of milk at night doesn’t only help children, its minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium impact a person’s anxiety and stress level. Magnesium has a calming affect that can reduce insomnia.

 

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Author Bio:

Alisandra Puliti is an NYC-based entertainment journalist with 15 years of experience. The Penn State University graduate has worked in the celebrity weekly world and most recently launched and grew the US entities for HELLO! + HOLA! Media. Throughout her tenure, she has attended red carpet events such as the Golden Globes, covered the backstage action at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and interviewed Hollywood’s A-list and royalty. (Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez being among her favorites!) She has also learned the tips and tricks of the stars’ skincare regimens along the way. As for herself, she swears by Goldfaden’s Doctor’s Scrub and Pure Start cleanser. Follow her travels and outings on Instagram and Twitter @apuliti.

Meet Anna Zahn, founder of Ricari Studios, derived from the Italian word for “recharge,” is a health spa with a restorative approach to skin and body care with a focus on cellular stimulation treatments, which combine traditional techniques with innovative technology.

Name: Anna Zahn

Location: Los Angeles

Who are you and what do you stand for?

I think that is a question we consider and converse with our entire lives. Who I am changes daily, and I hope the person I am today is different than the person I am in 10 years. I hope to challenge myself with a perpetual process of reflection and (hopefully) growth.

Though I don’t think I have a definitive statement on what I stand for, I find the center of my interest lies an insatiable love for and connection to human experience and expression. It’s like an endless garden that I can perpetually explore and cultivate. My attraction to human experience fertilizes all of my projects and pursuits.

I think every story begins with you as somebody else – a dream, an ideal, a vision of the future, and if you’re lucky you end up with yourself. I’ve always envisioned myself working closely with human experience, whether it was in performance, writing, creative concepts or one on one in a room. I can proudly say that I have somehow ended up with myself, living my dream in a way. I hope to continue to do so on larger scales with more precision, and if I’m lucky, encourage that in others.

On those days when you’re not feeling 100 percent, what do you do to give yourself a confidence boost?

For me, I embrace that every day is not going to be 100 percent. I feel that our culture often presses us to always fight to achieve a level of perfection that ultimately leads to disappointment, or an inability to integrate feelings of discomfort. As much as I am absolutely driven by ambition and a desire to create and enact ideas in the world, I also feel it’s important to allow room for failure, unforeseen change, challenge, and imperfection. So on the days I’m not feeling 100 percent, I practice kindness with myself and accept the discomfort.

What activities would you say are part of your self-care routine? And how do you make time for self-care?

Honestly, my routine is no routine. That’s probably poor form for someone in my position, but it’s the truth. As much as I love immersing myself in products, treatments, beauty and self care, in reality I respond to the kind of day I’m having or I want to have. So I suppose listening is my routine, and activities (and time for them) changes day to day. I’m probably not going to do a 12-step skincare routine if a date ends up turning into something more (or in a more current landscape – I feel like sinking into the couch and binge watching Netflix), and I embrace that undulation. I’m much more connected to with living my life with presence and balance over rigidity with routines.

Are there any techniques or products you recommend, specifically for your body?

I’m a big believer in taking baths, self massage with oils or creams, regular body scrubs with a mitt or exfoliation product, and even if my day is rushed I usually apply some sort of moisture to my skin after the shower. I love movement like gyrotonic, pilates, rebounding, and elegant, expansive exercise.

What are some of your favorite body treatments?

Hands down Ricari treatments. Aside from that I love Acupuncture with Dr. Ryan Monahan, Bodywork by Zumi Vance, Brazillian style sculpting massage and Korean body scrubs (all of which I have been deeply missing during quarantine).

What is the Lymphatic System and why is it important to care for it? 

In one sentence, the lymphatic system is a set of interconnected nodes, ducts and vessels, much like pearls on a knotted string. Another (less chic) way to think of it is like a highway, and the nodes are toll booths. Whichever metaphor you fancy, this system, which lies just under the skin, is responsible for eliminating cellular waste, storing and distributing fat and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, transporting white blood cells to assist in immune functioning, and removing interstitial fluid from tissues to minimize swelling.

Most of us stimulate our lymphatic system in our everyday movements, but the various stresses of modern life combined with a lack of physical activity means that most of us require extra stimulation in the form of focused exercise, massage, and hydration. Further, the lymphatic system differs from the circulatory system in that it doesn’t have a pump (like your heart), so giving it some extra love can make a huge impact on your overall well being.

The type of service we provide is really about cellular stimulation: getting down to the nitty-gritty of your body’s day-to-day functioning, which means circulatory support, lymphatic drainage, nervous system support, fascia release, tissue regeneration, muscle recovery, collagen production… you get the idea. We want to help you become more aware of your body and provide a systematic approach to wellbeing that goes way beyond any buzzword or physical markers of health, like being “fat” or “skinny.”

Are you able to share any lifestyle tips that people can adapt to ensuring that their lymph system is working at its optimal rate (diet, tools, lifestyle, etc.)?

I like to keep it easy as we are constantly inundated with more tips than we can keep track of let alone integrate; hydrate, rest, stimulate. Try to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces each day, add in stimulation when you can, and be sure to give your body and nervous system proper time to rejuvenate through rest and relaxation. I like to dry brush before I get in the shower, and if I forget I spend some time massaging my face and body when I apply oils or creams. I also love to take naps and always need a good night’s sleep. I’m also a big believer in regular baths, massages, and walking.

I believe you should truly enjoy what you’re doing to be “well.” If any part of your wellness routine doesn’t give you some degree of pleasure or joy, axe it. Marie Kondo your routines. Value pleasure and joy as much as hard work. Also, don’t overcomplicate things or fall for every trend. Discover what works for you, whatever that means. Allow yourself space and flexibility to live well. Oh, and drink more water!

Can you explain your Cellular Stimulation treatment?

Though the Lymphatic System has become more popular as a reference in wellness, I recognize that though it is a central figure, it is not the only player in regards to our systematic health, so I created Cellular Stimulation treatments, which felt more encompassing and representative of what our methods are.

I typically refer to all our employed technology as “benevolent,” meaning its naturally stimulating, sensuous, and often derived from athletic or medical application. Our aim is to re energize and revitalize tissue and skin cells to tone, refine, relax and cleanse your body and face through gentle yet efficient skin stimulation. We combine and customize varying mechanical manipulation of the skin, muscle, and tissue for maximum wellness benefit, aesthetic impact, and overall relaxation.

Our treatments are centered around the Italian made ICOONE device. Rollers deliver inward, outward, forward and backward rotations providing fractionated skin stimulation customized to our clients needs. It gently yet intensively conditions skin tissue to reduce cellular deposits, enhance blood and lymphatic flow and reactivate lipolysis. It also stimulates collagen and elastin production to rapidly smooth and firm the skin.

In general I am constantly looking out for any refinements or new innovations in wellbeing technology, and am sure with more time and innovation will come more devices at our studios.

If you could get the world to change its collective mind about one issue, or adopt one way of being, what would it be and why?

People often think of wellness and other items on the self-care menu as indulgences at best and frivolous expenditures at worst. I like to highlight two points. First, I feel this thinking is flawed and ultimately creates challenges in the long term as we continue to burn out left and right. With an increasingly stress-induced landscape, self-care is truly essential as we ride the tumultuous waves of grief and uncertainty. Second, doing right by your body can feel pleasurable and in fact should feel pleasurable.

Western society, especially American society, has a hard time embracing the concept of pleasure. Pleasure is often confused with ego-centrism or selfishness, when it’s really a necessity in my opinion. What are we doing here if not enjoying ourselves? We should be seeking out pleasure in our day-to-day. On the other hand, there’s also this self-flagellatory tendency when it comes to wellness, where people sacrifice their bodies and their sanity on the altar of “health.” It’s a silver-bullet mentality, and it can all be so extreme. I hope we can all utilize more space, even if kicking and screaming in our active landscape, to rediscover our desires, daydreams, and true expression of wellbeing (even if that means eating that entire pint of ice cream).

Fill in the blank: Rest is underrated.

Madeline Alcott is the founder of Petit Vour, a luxury vegan beauty box subscription and … It’s made with clean ingredients of course, and it never disappoints. A pioneer in clean beauty, Madeline expertly curates brands a products for Petit Vour and her community at large. We had the intimate pleasure of sitting down with Madeline to learn more about herself, her lifestyle and more.

What does clean beauty mean to you?

In a nutshell, it means safe and free of harmful ingredients. That leaves a lot up to interpretation, so it’s important that we are doing our utmost to carefully select the ingredients in our products. Transparency is essential in this process. At Petit Vour, our ingredient standard is very selective and we list our banned ingredients on our website for all to see.

How do you start your mornings?

I put on some cheery jazz and sip coffee on the balcony, catching up on the news, but also just relaxing before the day kicks into high gear.

What’s your go-to am beverage?

Pour over coffee, black.

What are your go-to daily beauty products and why?

I like to keep things simple and light, because I’m pretty active all day long. Moisturizer with SPF and eye cream are a must. For makeup, I typically just wear tinted lip balm and brow pomade.

How do you de-stress?

Daily hikes with my love and my dog-child, Maya

Favorite beauty trick?

Find reasons to be joyful every day. When you’re happy, your eyes and skin will look so bright and awake. Also, keep your eye cream in the fridge!

Favorite mood-boosting meal?

Vegan tacos and jalapeno margs on the balcony

What’s a dinner recipe you currently have on repeat?

Tacos, for sure! We roast sweet potatoes, stir fry peppers and onions, and pile on the pinto beans, homemade guacamole, vegan sour cream and hot sauce.

What is your daily mantra?

To be bold and be kind. It’s a reminder to speak my mind and live a life that’s authentic, while also being considerate of my impact on the world around me.

How do you practice sustainability?

So many ways! My partner and I share a Prius Prime, which fortunately means we almost never have to fill up the tank. We use all of our own bags when we shop. We even bring our own cloth produce bags and glass jars for shopping the bulk aisle at the grocery. We also have committed to only using zero waste home-cleaning products.

Any advice for people wanting to make the switch towards a more mindful existence (increased wellness) but who are not sure where to start?

I think a great way to start is with what you put on our plate. Try out wholesome, feel-good recipes (I love Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker), savor every bite, and make little goals to inch your evolution along. Look around your home and identify where the waste is and pay attention to future purchases. I try to keep my purchases low, so that when I do make a purchase I am more inclined to spend a little more to support a company that has really sound ethics.