Sharing Meals With Family And Friends May Provide Stress Relief

Individuals who experience chronic stress have a significantly higher risk of experiencing a heart disease diagnosis or having a stroke, according to the American Heart Association. From work obligations and financial responsibilities to family commitments and maintaining social relationships, stress can come from all areas of a person's life. In other words, stress can take a toll on the body, both physically and mentally, leading to a bad mood, poor performance, and an increased risk for a number of health conditions, as per Mayo Clinic.

One 2007 poll taken by the American Psychological Association stated that at the time, one-third of Americans reported living with extreme or chronic stress. However, only a small percentage, roughly 28% of those surveyed, felt they managed their stress levels well. It's no surprise that many individuals are searching for any and all ways to decrease and reduce the amount of stress experienced in their daily lives.

Though it appears that many individuals are becoming more adept at managing their stress, there's still a large percentage of the population who experience stress on a recurring basis. According to the American Heart Association, out of 1,000 adults surveyed in 2022, 65% report feeling somewhat stressed regularly, while roughly 27% of adults report feeling extreme stress.

Managing stress

When it comes to stress management, there are a number of ways you can reduce the negative experiences of stress, such as increasing your exercise and getting enough sleep (via the National Alliance on Mental Illness). Though some individuals may look to activities, like yoga, meditation, or therapy sessions, as a means of reducing stress, these options can require changes to your regular lifestyle that may be difficult to fit in or implement without causing additional stress. After all, feeling guilty that you failed to get up early enough for a yoga session before work can start the stressful cycle before you've even clocked in.

Managing stress can be challenging, particularly if the changes needed to reduce stress involve drastic behavior or lifestyle changes. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, Americans can lack motivation to adopt new behaviors solely for the purpose of reducing stress, despite the recognized detriments that chronic stress has on an individual's health and well-being. Luckily, not all stress-relieving practices require such drastic changes to an individual's lifestyle.

Can sharing meals reduce stress?

One way to help fight stress levels can come from simply sharing your daily meals with friends, family, or loved ones, according to U.S. News & World Report. Recent research has demonstrated that when individuals share meals with others, there is a reminder of the need and importance of fostering social connections. In addition to helping individuals slow down, sharing meals with others also encourages healthier eating habits.

According to the survey published by the American Heart Association, 91% of parents surveyed reported that they feel less stressed when they share meals with their family. In fact, themes of feeling connected to their family members were reported by those surveyed.

However, the stress-relieving benefits of sharing meals are not limited to only family mealtimes. The American Heart Association explains that when asked, 69% of full-time and part-time employees reported they would feel less stressed if there were more opportunities to share meals with coworkers. So if you're looking for ways to lower your stress, consider sharing your next meal with a friend or family member and see if you find yourself a bit more relaxed before dessert.