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Foods that are making you a mean coworker

Lisa Armstrong is the mother of two grown daughters, a yoga practitioner, an educator and a long-time freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness, and historical topics that affect humanity's personal and collective well-being.

You are what you eat

What? Another deadline? And where's the information you need from your coworker? Feeling fed up? Ready to blow your stack? Here's some helpful information to rescue you from the daily grind — before it pounds you into a frenzy!
Angry woman in office

If you're popping off at your family and coworkers with mean and nasty (and later retracted) statements or feel more than exhausted and overwhelmed at work, perhaps it's time to focus on the factors that create "meanness" at work and how to start turning things around more effectively.

The problem could it be what you're eating every day for breakfast and lunch.

How does burnout affect you at work?

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that work- and stress-related burnout affects women's weight and behavior. Women who felt burned out at the beginning or end of the study were far more likely to either eat when upset or to binge-eat, compared with those who did not suffer from burnout. Women without burnout were also less likely to overeat as a result of frustration.

Researcher Nina Nevanpera studied 230 working women and how feelings of exhaustion, cynicism and low self-esteem affected their overall behavior.

She finds that women with feelings of burnout "have a hindered ability to make changes in their eating behavior." She suggests higher-fiber diets and avoiding delays between meals.

Foods to avoid if you are easily provoked at work

Woman drinking coffee

  • Coffee: Coffee can create jittery nerves and too much energy, which can often explode in an outburst.
  • Tomatoes: Ayurvedic tradition says that tomatoes create digestive fire, thus "heating you up." Too much of this fire coming from what you eat can lead to anger.
  • Spicy peppers: Jalapenos, habaneros, more and more heat! Well, you get the picture.
  • Wheat and milk: According to BeWellBuzz, if you're allergic to wheat (or the gluten in wheat), as well as the casein (protein) in milk, these foods can cause inflammation in your brain. Both are also linked to aggression.

If you're feeling angry too often at work (or other places), try chewing on more of these foods to feel calmer and more at ease:

  • Keep it colorful: Focus on mostly vegetarian food that includes fruits like blueberries and oranges, and dark green leafy vegetables (especially spinach).
  • Boost, regulate and smooth: Snack on almonds (boosts energy), pumpkin seeds (high in magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure), sardines or avocados (lots of omega-3 fatty acids) and coconut milk (helps irritability); all provide both excellent nutrition and beneficial support for your mood.

Not only can foods and snacks like these help with anger, eating more like this can help you shed pounds, too - a pleasant proposition! According to Aetna’s "what’s your healthy?" survey, 33% of respondents to the study say they could drop eating large portions in exchange for being healthier.

So what are you waiting for?

  • Strike a child’s pose: Besides your diet, try yoga classes to help decompress and get in some exercise. Yoga is also great way to handle frustration or just to relax, especially right before bed.
  • Deep breathing is key: Again, try child’s pose which is a resting pose in the fetal position.
  • Snooze, nap and sleep deeply: If you have the type of work setting or space where you can get in a short nap, (10 to 20 minutes) take advantage of this opportunity for daytime rest as a way to defuse anger. Alternatively, even a few minutes of eyes closed and slow, deep breathing in a quiet place can help.

If these alternatives are not possible for you, get at least seven to nine hours of good sleep each night.

And prepare yourself for this restful sleep by turning out or dimming lights at least an hour before hitting the hay. Shut off the TV and other electronic devices, play some soft music, diffuse relaxing essential oils such as lavender and do some light stretching. If you're especially keyed up, try taking a natural sleep aid, such as valerian. There are no side effects and it helps create deep, natural sleep.

More anger management strategies

Should you suppress anger?
How being overworked affects your health
5 Ways to beat workplace anxiety

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