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Reducing stress is part of a healthy diet

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Dietician’s Digest by Rachel Breneman

There is no doubt that many of us are working long hours and coming home to even more work, whether that is kids, pets, caring for a parent or the never ending to-do list. We have gotten so stressed out and wrapped up in our “busyness” that we forget to be present and enjoy today. I heard someone say, “Stop glorifying being busy. Be productive instead, and when you aren’t being productive, rest.”

Rachel Breneman

Rachel Breneman

I have tried to live by this lately by reducing unnecessary distractions and focusing more on the essentials — the things that must get done by the end of the day. In doing this, I have created more space for downtime, self-care and time with loved ones.

Carving out even five minutes in the day to just breathe deeply and be present can turn stress down a notch. There is scientific evidence of this, too — deep breathing techniques influence the hypothalamus in the brain, which is a “command center” for automatic processes (such as breathing and heart rate), the endocrine or hormone system and the immune system, according to the Center for Mind Body Medicine.

Translation? This can result in lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormone levels, can influence your pain response and can boost immunity. Try to make a habit of giving yourself a quick “time-out” regularly to just breathe deeply, and see how you feel afterwards.

Stress reduction is an important part of one’s journey towards health, even when focusing on other behaviors like eating or exercising. Use your vacation hours, spend time doing nothing, get outside, turn off the technology and enjoy the remaining days of summer!

For a free guided imagery download, visit www.kaiserpermanente.org. Click on Health and Wellness, then Live Healthy. Scroll down on your left under Audio and Video: Guided imagery link.

Rachel Breneman is the Hy-Vee dietitian and a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.