Foods That Help with Everyday Overwhelm

We often put a lot of thought into doing things regularly to boost our immune systems. We know the necessary items that need to be present in our diet and lives to achieve this, and we boost them even more during cold and flu season. There’s another issue we all deal with that can be combated with proactive habits — anxiety and overwhelm. I first want to be clear that I am not speaking of clinical anxiety. If you are struggling beyond basic daily life overwhelm, please consult your doctor.

For the overwhelm that comes with daily life, I like to look to ancient traditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our kidneys are the body’s central source of yin and yang. When our kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, other health problems, including anxiety, arise. The world we live in today takes a significant toll on our kidneys, whether we know it or not. These issues can be small enough to go undiagnosed by physicians but can have a substantial impact on the rest of our bodies.

Factors such as stress, poor sleep quality, environmental toxins, and alcohol can be extremely taxing on the kidneys. Chinese Medicine views the adrenal glands and the kidneys as the same organ. The adrenals are two glands that are located on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for the production and regulation of essential hormones, including those involved in the stress response. When the adrenal glands become overworked, through too much stress, lack of sleep, or those other factors, they are unable to function normally, resulting in adrenal fatigue. This leads to numerous symptoms, including insomnia, sadness, digestive problems, weak immune functioning, and especially anxiety.

Thus, by treating the kidneys through specific foods and restoring the functioning of the adrenal glands, you can help ease some symptoms of overwhelm. To feed your kidneys optimally, you should eat tangerines, plums, grapes, grains such as amaranth, rye, oats, and barley, celery, asparagus, cabbage, and black beans. However, it is beneficial to know whether your kidneys are deficient in the yin or yang and treat them accordingly. The yin is responsible for cooling and hydrating the body. If they are yin deficient, you might experience symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, dry skin, eyes, and mouth, and brittle hair. Chlorella is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the kidneys’ yin.

Spirulina, another type of algae, also works great. It would be best if you also were eating carrots, grapefruit, celery, cucumber, blueberries, soybeans, kidney beans, and watermelon. These are considered ‘cold’ foods that will help increase your yin.

Yang, on the other hand, is responsible for stimulating and warming up your body. If your kidneys are deficient in yang, you might experience diarrhea, lower back pain, fatigue, and feeling cold. Generally, symptoms are worse in the morning. If this is your case, eat “warming” foods such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, walnuts, quinoa, and black beans. Avoid any iced drinks and raw foods and try to limit your fruit intake as these are all considered ‘cooling’ foods that will only worsen your yin-yang imbalance.

Aside from foods to help stimulate healthy kidney function, meditation apps have helped me tremendously with combating daily overwhelm.  Apps such as Headspace or Calm can help you fit meditation into your schedule in just a few minutes per day, and this time to clear your mind can transform your entire day.

What are your favorite mind-clearing practices that help you stay calm?

Comment and let me know, I’d love to hear how you handle this.

Learning to listen to your body and be present with your feelings and emotions takes time and reaps bountiful rewards.

For example, most people feel anxiety as tension in their chest or their stomach. We can easily move through our day holding our breath, experiencing this feeling without giving it much thought. Next time you notice yourself feeling anxious, do a mental body scan and see where the feeling has gathered inside of your body. Does your chest feel tight? Do you feel knots in your stomach? Something else, perhaps?

Once you nail down where this feeling of tension rises in your body, you’ll be better equipped to notice and combat it promptly. Sometimes, you may not even notice you are anxious until you realize the tension.  This is the perfect time to check in with yourself. Do a quick scan and ask yourself what’s weighing on you, what’s causing you anxiety, or what’s bothering you.

What’s been your saving grace during this stay-at-home order?

I understand as time continues to pass, and the uncertainty is prevalent, there are a lot of emotions running through us.  I’ve heard so many unique strategies to keep yourself sane and happy, so I’d love to hear what you’ve adopted as your saving grace.

If there’s one thing I want you to embrace fully, it’s the idea of baby steps.  Small changes turn into life-altering new habits — and intentional, small changes over time feel so refreshing and doable. A great way to start with this is merely changing a negative trigger you currently have into a positive one.

For example — when you’re stressed, your current habit is to reach for junk food.  Reframe this trigger, and have a healthy snack already prepared and on hand for when the trigger strikes. Before you even have time to think about which junk food you want to reach for — go right for the healthy snack you have prepared. You can use easy to prepare items like carrots, celery, or any crunchy raw veggies you love to snack on.  Find a dip you enjoy and have it on hand.  If you enjoy your snack, you’ll be more likely to not talk yourself out of it.

Where’s your tension?

Do you have a specific area of your body you tend to hold your tension?  Check-in with yourself right now.  Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and take a long, deep breath.

Shoulders/neck, jaw, and chest are the most common places we tense up.

Most of the time, we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Doing regular check-ins with yourself will help you realize where you hold your stress will help you be proactive about combating it.

For me, I hold my stress in my shoulders.

What about you?