Ask the RD: Coping with Stress

Every month, our Registered Dietitian, Kelli Wood, answers a frequently asked nutrition question. Here’s February’s Ask the RD!

“How do I deal with stress in a healthy way?”

Mental health is often overlooked but is so important to our overall wellbeing. If you suddenly start feeling headaches, body aches, overwhelmed, exhausted, or “off”, it may be time to start learning healthy coping strategies for stress.

First, learn what your symptoms of stress are, and determine when they are triggered. This might help you understand when it’s time to take a pause from social media, the news, or toxic relationships. The heavy workload in college may be unavoidable sometimes, but it’s perfectly fine to take a break for some “me-time”. In fact, research has shown short breaks throughout the day can actually increase productivity.

In the past several years, there have been lots of emerging evidence suggesting that a nutritious diet may have a hugely positive impact on mental health. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and drink plenty of water. Sleep will also help recover from stress, so aim for at least 7 hours. If managing stress is still a struggle, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. CAPS also has plenty of resources to support UNC students in times of stress.