While the stresses brought about by the quarantines, social distancing, financial and other concerns that the spread of the COVID-19 virus has wrought are challenging for everyone, maintaining physical and mental well-being are as important as ever. People who thrive on routine, including fitness enthusiasts who may not have access to gyms or classes, may experience as much mental strain as physical.
Registered dietician Mandy Enright, in conjunction with the American Dairy Association, offer these tips to help folks unwind after a stressful day, aiding in sleep and helping to maintain mental strength.
“Constant movement and stimulation cause stress on the body, leading to inflammation, digestive issues, and anxiety,” says Enright. “It makes getting a good night’s sleep more difficult.”
Enright, who is also a fitness trainer and yoga instructor, says that three keys to helping you unwind at the end of the day if you’re both wired and tired all at the same time include unplugging, finding restful and relaxing activities you can do before bed, and eating food that puts you in a sleepy mood.
1. Unplug And Recharge
To help ease your mind at the end of the night, set your cell phone aside and give both your device and your body ample time to recharge. “Set a cut-off on your day when you are no longer available and stick to the plan,” advises Enright. It’s also imperative that you stop using your device at least one hour before bedtime because the blue lights from screens can cause brain stimulation, making it harder to fall asleep.
2. Restful And Relaxing Activities
At the end of the day, it’s time to find something that will take you away from your daily obligations and help you relax. Whether it’s meditation and yoga, listing to calming music while taking a warm bath, or reading a book, Enright says “taking time to unwind at the end of the day not only helps you have a good night’s sleep, it allows you to be your best the next day.”
3. Eat Foods To Put You In A Sleepy Mood
There are a handful of foods that aid our bodies in producing and releasing natural hormones that make us feel sleepy. Top on that list is tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce the sleep hormones serotonin and melatonin. “Protein-rich foods are high in tryptophan, and the carbohydrates are needed to help unlock that tryptophan,” says Enright. Enjoying high-protein foods such as dairy, poultry, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds at dinner and before bedtime can help take you into a world of Zen. Caffeine-free drinks like chamomile tea are also a good bet.
The tie to milk is Enright’s recommendation of Moon Milk (recipe below, courtesy of SavorRecipes.com), which is basically milk served warm, with flavors added.
courtesy of savorrecipes.com
Serving Size: 1
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon spice powder (turmeric, beet, matcha, or butterfly pea flower)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger
Pinch star anise
1 tablespoon honey
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk milk with selected spice powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise. Steep for 10 minutes, until flavors fully develop.
Remove from heat and incorporate honey to serve.