Special thanks to Chandler Ray, The University of Maryland dietetic intern, for this post
In the hustle and bustle of today's busy world, we are all affected by the stresses of everyday life. If you’re looking to find a healthy way to reduce, manage, and deal with stress, then Calm is the perfect app for you! Calm is a free website and iOS/Android app that offers a series of short, guided sessions ranging from as little as two minutes to thirty minutes in length. A gentle voice then walks you through visualizations and techniques that help you clear your mind, focus on your goals and relax your body.
How does it work?
Getting started is easy! Just download the app and click “I’m Ready” on the Welcome screen… no sign up or additional information is necessary. To begin your own session, choose your preferred nature scene, such as waves crashing on a beach or the rainforest, and the length of practice. A narrator then guides you through getting relaxed or, if you prefer, choose no voice over and just enjoy the calming background music/ sounds of nature. Remember to wear headphones if you have them and ensure you are free from distractions once you begin!
Costs: Calm Pro Access
The app is free to download, which includes “The 7 Steps of Calm,” perfect for beginners or experienced mediators looking for a refresher. The “Pro” subscription unlocks 50 additional premium mediations and is available through an auto-renewing subscription. Currently, three months is $4.99, six months is $6.99, and one year is $9.99. The website is always free.
Focus on a certain aspect of meditation
The courses address various topics, like anxiety release, compassion, confidence, creativity, energy, focus, motivation, self-acceptance and more.
How can nutrition professionals use this tool?
Stress can affect people's eating behaviors in different ways. When stress becomes overwhelming, people develop ways to cope, which may include binge eating or not eating at all. These habits have the potential to contribute to the development of an eating disorder or unwanted physiological changes. Recent studies 1,2 show elevated levels of cortisol (the hormone produced in response to stress) are associated with overeating, craving high-fat, high-sugar foods and blood sugar and insulin imbalances. Chronically high cortisol levels are linked to the development of abdominal obesity in both men and women 3.
Studies have shown that meditation reduces stress and helps people become more mindful of food choices 1,2. As nutrition professionals, we have the ability to teach our clients positive ways to deal with life challenges, such as relaxation and physical activity, so that food does not become the solution to the obstacles. These stress-reduction techniques can help individuals to have more control of food choices and better weight management.
1. Maglione-Garves, Christine A., Len Kravitz, Ph.D., and Suzanne Schneider, Ph.D. "Stress Cortisol Connection." The University of Mexico, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2014.
2. Torres, Susan and Nowson, Caryl 2007-11, Relationship between
stress, eating behavior and obesity, Nutrition, vol. 23, no. 11-12, pp.887-894.
3. "Why Stress Causes People to Overeat." Harvard Health Publications. Harvard University, Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2014.