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16 Stress-Busting Foods to Eat During Work Breaks

Balancing work responsibilities, deadlines, and the pressure to perform can take a toll on our mental and physical health. That’s why finding effective ways to manage stress during work hours is essential.

One powerful approach to combat stress is taking stress-busting foods into our work breaks. These are nutrient-rich foods that can help boost our mood and enhance our resilience.

By consciously choosing the right foods, we can support our bodies and minds in coping with the demands of the workday.

What is the Link Between Stress and Food?

Stress and Stress-Busting Foods

Stress is the body’s natural response to demanding or challenging situations. When we experience stress, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol, which trigger a range of physiological responses. These responses include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and altered blood sugar levels.

The stress hormone cortisol prepares us to face challenges by increasing our alertness and energy levels. However, prolonged or excessive stress can lead to chronically elevated or too much cortisol levels, which can have negative effects on our health. It can contribute to high blood pressure, imbalance blood sugar levels, and compromise our well-being.

Food can be a powerful tool for stress relief. When we consume certain nutrients, they interact with our body’s chemistry, influencing the production of hormones and neurotransmitters that impact our mood and stress levels. They can help regulate stress hormones, stabilize blood pressure and blood sugar, and promote a sense of calm.

Benefits of Stress-busting Foods

Benefits of Stress-busting Foods

Regulates Stress Hormones

Helps regulate the production and release of cortisol in the body.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Certain foods, like dark chocolate and tea, have been associated with lowering blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.

Relieves Stress Symptoms

They can help alleviate common symptoms of stress, such as anxiety, tension, and restlessness.

Enhances Immune Function

These foods often contain immune-boosting nutrients that support the body’s defense against illness and promote overall health.

Increases Energy and Focus

Opting for nutritious foods can provide sustained energy and mental clarity, helping to combat fatigue and improve productivity during times of stress.

Promotes Positive Mood

Incorporating these foods into your diet can boost mood, increase feelings of relaxation, and improve overall welfare.

Which Foods Reduce Stress?

Certain foods have gained recognition for their stress-relieving properties. These foods are often rich in specific nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, which help reduce depression and promote relaxation. Get ready to indulge in these healthy snacks and meals to fight stress and its negative effects.

Dark Chocolate

Stress-busting Foods - Dark Chocolate

When it comes to indulging in a calming treat, dark chocolate is a delicious option that may surprise you with its benefits. Packed with antioxidants, it can help reduce stress levels and promote a better mood. Plus, the feel-good chemical serotonin gets a boost from the cocoa content, providing a pleasant sense of de-stress and relaxation.

Fermented Foods

Did you know that your gut health has a significant impact on managing stress? Fermented foods high in nutrients such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, contain beneficial probiotics that support a healthy gut. A well-balanced gut bacteria helps regulate the body’s response to stress.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they provide a host of benefits for stress reduction. Their high vitamin B content helps support a healthy nervous system, while their complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy and mood stabilization.


Packed with healthy fatty acids, fiber, and essential nutrients, nuts can help keep stress at bay. They are also a great source of magnesium, which plays a key role in regulating stress hormones and promoting relaxation.

Whether you prefer almonds, walnuts, or cashews, adding a handful of nuts to your work break can provide a satisfying crunch and a dose of stress-relieving goodness.

Fatty Fish

Stress-busting Foods - Fatty Fish

Including fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or sardines in your diet can do wonders for stress reduction and overall brain health. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help combat anxiety. Omega-3s also play a vital role in maintaining healthy brain function and supporting cognitive abilities.


Eggs are rich in amino acids, including tryptophan and B vitamins, which are essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and regulating mood. Whether you prefer them scrambled, boiled, or as part of a veggie omelet, having eggs during your work break can provide a relieving meal option.

Turkey Breast

Turkey breast, often associated with holiday feasts, can be worth considering year-round. It contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is a building block for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood regulation. By including turkey in your meals, you provide your body with a calmer, more balanced state of mind.

Organ Meats

While not commonly included in modern diets, organ meats like liver and heart can be incredibly nutrient-dense and beneficial for stress reduction. They are rich in B vitamins, zinc, and iron, which are essential for a healthy nervous system and proper hormone regulation. If you’re open to exploring new culinary horizons, these meats can be a unique choice.

Citrus Fruits

Stress-busting Foods - Citrus

When anxiety strikes, reach for the refreshing goodness of citrus fruits. Loaded with vitamin C, these fruits are known for their immune-boosting properties. Vitamin C also helps lower stress hormone levels, promoting a sense of calm. Enjoy a juicy orange or squeeze some lemon into your water during your work break to give your body a dose of vitamin C.


Creamy and versatile, avocados are a fantastic addition to your stress-relieving arsenal. Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados help support brain health and reduce anxiety. They also contain potassium, which aids in lowering blood pressure. Slice up half an avocado and enjoy it on whole-grain toast or in a salad.


Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are delicious and a fantastic addition to your stress-busting repertoire. These colorful fruits are rich in antioxidants that help regulate cortisol levels in the body. They also provide a natural sweetness without the guilt of refined sugars.

Whole Grains

Choosing whole over refined carbohydrates can have a positive impact on your stress levels. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats are rich in complex carbs, providing a steady release of energy and helping to improve mood. Additionally, they contain B vitamins that play a crucial role in reducing stress and even premenstrual syndrome.

Green Tea

Stress-busting Foods - green tea

Sipping a warm cup of green tea can be a soothing ritual during your work break. It contains a unique compound called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation. It works in harmony with caffeine to provide calm alertness without the jitters and is also rich in antioxidants that help combat inflammation.

Chamomile Tea

If you need a calming and comforting beverage, look no further than chamomile tea. Known for its gentle and soothing properties, chamomile tea can help reduce symptoms of stress and promote relaxation. It contains compounds that bind to certain receptors in the brain, inducing a sense of calm and tranquility. 

Warm Milk

A childhood remedy that still holds its soothing powers, warm milk can help ease stress and promote relaxation. Milk contains calcium, vitamin D, and tryptophan. Additionally, the warmth and comforting nature of a cup of warm milk can create a sense of coziness and calmness.

Olive Oil

Incorporating olive oil into your meals can offer more than just delicious flavor. It contains monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can contribute to anxiety and negatively impact overall health. Choose olive oil as your go-to cooking and dressing oil.

What Are the 5 Common Foods You Mostly Eat When You’re Stressed?

Among the best stress-relieving foods mentioned above, the top five commonly eaten when faced with stressful tasks are: 

Dark Chocolate

Its health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving heart health, make it a popular choice for indulgence while combating anxiety.

Fatty Fish

These healthy fats support brain health, lower the risk of heart disease, and help balance blood sugar levels, making fatty fish an excellent choice for reducing stress.


Berries, especially blueberries, have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, and support the body’s stress response, making them a delicious and nutritious choice when feeling stressed.


Nuts are a convenient and nutritious snack that can help relieve stress. Their crunchy texture and lowering-stress properties make them a popular choice for snacking during stressful times.

Green Tea

This tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid known for its calming effects on the body. It promotes relaxation and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

What Are Foods for Overwhelmed or Stress Hormones?

Foods that are best to fight overwhelm and contribute to decreased anxiety generally have a calming effect on the body. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that can provide sustained energy, support immune function, and enhance the body’s ability to relieve stress or lower stress levels. 

Also, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is essential for optimal brain function and maintaining a sense of calm.

Avoiding unhealthy foods such as simple carbs can also fight off the increased risk of stress, depression, and ease symptoms associated with overwhelming situations.

Final Note

Maintaining a healthy diet is vital not just for physical health but also for stress management. It helps regulate stress, strengthens the immune system, and supports overall resilience in the face of stressors.

So, take a moment during your work break to savor these stress-relieving foods and give yourself the care and nourishment you deserve. Your well-being is worth it.