Stressed? Try This One Easy Trick to Feel Calmer and More Positive Now

|Updated Apr 8, 2021
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If you need to lower your stress, chase away negative thoughts, and hit reset on your mood, there is no better natural way to do it than to get out into nature and get active. The mounting evidence that nature and mood are related is so strong that there is even a new school of research called Ecopsychology to study the effects of nature on our mental health.

Take a long nature walk and drink matcha tea, for an extra well-being boost.

While it's not clear why spending time outside works, the researchers found that among those subjects who spent time outside (even if it was in an urban setting) experienced lower activity in their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is most active during rumination, which is defined as focusing on negative thoughts or emotions.

"Natural spaces offer other therapeutic benefits," Harvard's researchers wrote. "For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol."

"Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry," noted Dr. Jason Strauss, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. How much nature is enough to help boost brain chemistry? Strauss suggested: "Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week," or more if you can make it to the woods for a weekend of hiking or biking, he added. "The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle."

A study done by the University of Exeter and published in the journal Nature suggested that 120 minutes a week spent in nature is associated with feelings of wellbeing. The authors note that "a growing body of epidemiological evidence indicates that greater exposure to, or ‘contact with’, natural environments (such as parks, woodlands, and beaches) is associated with better health and well-being, at least among populations in high income, largely urbanized, societies.”

The study looked at the mental health and outdoor habits of 20,000 people and found that those who spent at least two hours a week in green spaces (such as parks and other natural environments, either all at once or over several visits) were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t spend time outside.

So for relaxation and mental wellbeing, your new ritual to adopt this month is this: Start to plan to spend time outside in nature every day, whether it's at the park, or a local hiking trail, or a safe biking path. If you're living in the mountains, tell yourself that late spring powder is a great excuse to get out on the snow, or if you're near the shore, take a friend, the dog, or a family member and plan a long beach walk when the light is most beautiful. Get moving and get outside, either 20 to 30 minutes a day or in one long weekend nature walk.

Add matcha tea or a matcha latte to your nature walk ritual, for extra relaxation and focus.

The next way to boost mood is when you get back home, reach for a matcha tea. A study of the effects of green tea on the brain shows that compounds in green tea can help promote mental alertness, focus, relaxation, and calm. Matcha tea is frequently referred to as mood- and brain food. “Matcha tea consumption leads to a much higher intake of green tea phytochemicals compared to regular green tea,” according to the study authors. Those higher amounts of phytochemicals mean that matcha tea is potentially better than regular tea for helping your brain function calmly and steadily."

Laird Superfood's Matcha Instafuel is one we love because it’s a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. This blend is combined with their Superfood Creamer containing naturally occurring MCTs from coconut oil which provides functionality to your matcha latte. Just add hot water, stir (or shake in your to-go bottle) and start your outside adventure.. Try adding Laird Superfood Matcha Instafuel to your routine of spending time in nature for a double boost of mood-enhancing morning rituals. You'll feel great all day.

Laird Superfood just launched a brand new program called The Daily Ritual! All you need to do is head to their site, take the quiz, and craft your own personalized superfood routine. Stay fueled from sunrise to sunset with the ease of monthly deliveries, 15 percent off, VIP perks, and more!

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Top 10 Sources of Plant-Based Protein According to a Nutritionist

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1. Seitan

Protein: 21 grams in ⅓ cup (1 ounce) Seitan isn’t as popular as other proteins, but it should be! Made from wheat gluten, its texture resembles ground meat. It’s often used in pre-made veggie burgers or meatless nuggets. Seitan has a savory taste, like mushrooms or chicken, so it works well in dishes that call for an umami flavor. With a hearty texture, seitan can be the star of practically any vegan main dish. Add it to stir-fries, sandwiches, burritos, burgers, or stews. Like tofu, seitan will take on the flavor of any marinade or sauce.


2. Tempeh

Protein: 16 grams in 3 ounces If you like a protein with a bit of bite, add tempeh to your list. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh has a slightly nutty flavor and is pressed into a block. Most varieties include some sort of grains, such as barley or millet. Not only is tempeh a plant-based source of protein, but the fermentation process also creates good-for-your-gut probiotics. You can cut tempeh right off the block and use it as the base for a sandwich or pan-fry it with some sauce. Or, crumble, heat, and make it the star of your next taco night.

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3. Lentils

Protein: 13 grams in ½ cup cooked Lentils come in multiple varieties--red, yellow, green, brown, black. Regardless of the type lentils are small but mighty nutritional powerhouses. They pack a good amount of protein as well as iron, folate, and fiber. When cooked, brown lentils retain their texture and can be the base for a grain bowl or make a hearty substitute for ground meat in meatballs, lasagna, tacos or Bolognese. Red lentils are a bit softer and make a nice add-in for a hearty soup, chili, or stew.

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4. Hemp Seeds

Protein: 10 grams in 3 tablespoons Hemp seeds are a tender and nutty seed, derived from the hemp plant. They contain good amounts of omega-3s, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. They are also a solid source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to keep your digestive tract healthy and humming. Because they pack a double whammy of protein and healthy fats, hemp seeds can help satisfy hunger, preventing those embarrassing stomach growls as you slog your way to your lunch break. Add them to your morning smoothie or sprinkle them on top of yogurt, oatmeal, or even a salad.

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5. Tofu

Protein: 9 grams in 3 ounces (⅕ of a block) Made from coagulated soybeans, tofu is the most popular plant-based protein. Soy is one of the only meatless "complete" proteins, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make but needs for muscle and immune function. With 15% of your daily calcium needs, tofu is also a good replacement for dairy.

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6. Edamame

Protein: 9 grams of protein in ½ cup This sushi appetizer is a nutrient powerhouse, so eat it anytime. Edamame is really just another name for soybeans in their pods. Let’s list off some stats--a small ½-cup serving of edamame has 9 grams of protein, 15% of your daily vitamin C, 10% of your daily iron and 16% of your daily fiber. Keep a bag of edamame in your freezer to serve as a fun-to-eat side dish or opt for the shelled variety to toss into salads or a grain bowl.

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7. Quinoa

Protein: 8 grams per cup (cooked) Quinoa is an ancient grain and since it's gluten-free a great choice for anyone avoiding gluten. Add it to your burger recipe to create filling texture, or instead of meat in your taco or burrito. Quinoa is among the healthiest foods on the planet, delivering phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory qualities, so keep it in your pantry for any meal that needs a filling grain. Just remember to soak it and rinse before cooking to get rid of any bitter taste.

8. Black Beans

Protein: 7 grams in ½ cup (canned) Eating beans on the regular might as well be a prerequisite for a plant-based diet. Not only are canned black beans inexpensive, but they also contribute 10% of your daily iron and 25% of your daily fiber to your diet. For less than $1 a can, beans can be the star of tacos, quesadillas, salads, soups, burgers, or dips.


9. Amaranth

Protein: 6 grams in ⅔ cup (cooked) Chances are you’ve never cooked amaranth. But you should, since this tiny, gluten- free grain is packed with almost 30% of your daily fiber and 20% of your daily iron. Cook it like a traditional grain to yield a soft, porridge-like texture. Many people add amaranth to other a hot breakfast cereal mixture, like oats and quinoa. It also pops like popcorn. Toss it in a pot with some oil and wait for it to pop up into a nutritious snack.

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10. Peas

Protein: 5 grams in ⅔ cup If peas were one of your most hated veggies as a kid, it’s time to give them another chance. These green beans are a great low-calorie protein to keep in your freezer. Sure, they don’t always taste great when steamed or microwaved (who wants to eat mushy, overcooked peas?), but they do blend well into a yummy puree that can be slathered on toast. To amp up the flavor, add some lemon juice or mint to your mix before you blend.