Dark Chocolate: Your Stress-Relief Shortcut
Blog post by Luka Pajkovic
Stress. There isn’t one of us who isn’t familiar with it.
Whether it’s taxes, approaching deadlines at school or work, relationship trouble, or finding yourself at the register and realizing you’ve forgotten the Starbucks word for medium; there are countless things that can stress us out.
Stress is a physical and emotional response to a challenge or demand, or anything that makes you feel angry, frustrated, or nervous, aka pretty much anything.
What Exactly is Stress?
In small doses, stress can actually be a positive thing; it is the trigger for the fight-or-flight response that kept our ancestors alive, after all.
Whenever we’re faced with a stressful situation, our brain reacts – our amygdala sends a distress signal to our hypothalamus, which floods our bloodstream with adrenaline, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Small pathways in the lungs expand and the extra oxygen makes our sight, hearing, and other senses sharper while blood sugar and fats are released to provide energy.
The body’s reaction to stress is incredible and potentially life-saving. It’s great when you’re about to get hit by a car; not so great when you’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep.
But the real dangers of stress show up when it starts to stick around, turning into chronic stress. Short-term it can cause sleep deprivation, headaches, digestive problems, and weight fluctuation.
Long-term, chronic stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, a compromised immune system, depression, and anxiety; to name just a few nasties.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage stressful situations, and stress in general. Here at Nomad, we’ve got the perfect thing to help keep your stress-levels under control, and it just so happens to be delicious to boot!
Considering Nomad’s cacao obsession, it should come as no surprise that the answer to a stressful day is some high-quality dark chocolate.
Studies have shown that regular enjoyment of dark chocolate actually reduces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol that contribute to chronic stress.
Combine chocolate’s ability to inhibit stress with its ability to encourage dopamine and serotonin – the happy chemicals – and you’ve got a perfect stress reliever and mood enhancer to help you relax and cool off after some tough days at the office or in the classroom; plus you get an excuse to eat some chocolate every day. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us!
To get the most stress-relief benefit look for dark chocolate with high cacao content, such as Nomad’s high-quality, 72% dark chocolate bars.
Maximizing the Stress-Relief Benefits of Chocolate
With properties like these, it’s no surprise that chocolate is one of the world’s favourite treats, and it does help explain why cacao was drank after battle and during religious ceremonies thousands of years ago; but there are a few ways you can boost the relaxation.
Our sense of smell triggers the same part of the brain that is responsible for our memories, and triggering positive memories can help you detach from stressful moments. The aromatic effects of Nomad’s Drinking Chocolate, such as our West Africa 45% Dark, combine with the stress-blocking power of dark chocolate to ease and relax, instantly creating a soothing moment, wrapped around a warm mug.
Studies have also shown that engaging in hobbies is a great way to reduce stress and provide a positive outlet for anxious energy. We here at Nomad are partial to baking, which was unsurprisingly found to be among the top 20 most relaxing hobbies. It’s fun, light-hearted, and usually ends with a delicious reward; the only way to make it better is to add some of that cacao-grade stress-relief!
So next time you’re feeling run-down at work, get some bad news, or find out your exams are actually next week and not next month; try prescribing yourself a little dark-chocolate-deliciousness, it does more good than meets the eye.