Stress management: Eating together in groups can help you de-stress
Did you know you can reduce stress by eating together with family and friends? Well, now you do. A new study finds that most parents say their families are less stressed when they eat together. Who would have thought that something so simple and pleasing could help with stress management?
Eating together helps us connect and take a step back
Chronic stress is a major cause of concern worldwide. It raises one's risks of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, which are leading causes of death among older adults. About one-third of Americans (33%) are living with chronic stress. That's a huge number if we consider the risks these people are exposed to. Therefore, it becomes important to find ways to reduce stress and protect ourselves from those risks.
Interestingly, sharing a meal with friends, family, or colleagues can offer numerous benefits, including stress relief.
In the study, 91% of parents reported lower levels of stress in their family when they regularly ate together. About 84% of the participants wish they could eat with their loved ones more often.
Sharing meals with our loved ones offers us an opportunity to connect again. It reminds us to slow down and take a step back. It's an avenue to reflect on the things that really matter in life: love, connection with one another, cheers, and laughter—our circle. All of that can help drive down your stress levels as you forget about all your anxieties for a moment. Doing this regularly can put a lasting check on chronic stress.
The American Heart Association that organized the research is going further to encourage people to come together at mealtimes by sharing meal tips every Tuesday from now till December. You can follow the hashtag #TogetherTuesday on social media or text 2gether to 51555 to get the tips instantly as they roll out.
Eat together to reduce stress
"Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and improve social connection, particularly for kids," says Erin Michos, M.D, a volunteer in the study. It shows that eating together not only helps to reduce stress but also offers other benefits. Some people even claim to make better food choices when they eat in groups. Of course, that's pretty understandable.
When you eat alone, you may eat whatever you can lay your hands on just to sate your appetite, no matter how unhealthy it is. You tend to be more conscious when you're preparing a meal for or eating with other people.
Like almost everything else, it's not always easy to keep to a schedule. Your schedule might also not align with your loved ones' or co-workers'. But it's all about taking conscious steps. Start small; try to gather friends and even your colleagues at work for at least one meal a week together. You'll find their interest growing over time until it becomes almost a routine—regular. Regular is where the meat is.
If you work from home, perhaps try eating together over a video call. It's the act that matters.