How I Curb Anxiety

I'd love to tell you everything is smooth and jammy over here on my side on the pond, but that wouldn't be entirely truthful. Like many people, I struggle with anxiety. It's usually nonsensical anxiety that my body pushes on me like a large, unwanted gift of straight-up awful. My mind knows it's silly. My mind doesn't want it (No, thank you!), but can't seem to reject it. Thanks a lot body! 

Am I destined to choking down beta-blockers and SSRIs to ease my racing heart and trembling hands? To help quell my social awkwardness? Nah. Here are just a few things that I personally implement to help deal with daily anxiety. As always, check with your doctor before undertaking a new health routine. I'm not a doctor. Only you and your provider and/or counselor can determine what's best for you.

These are some of the things I do daily. I've listed them in order of my day. The holidays can be stressful, so try some of these out and get to relaxing. 

Go Vegan

Shocking, right? Fo' real though. A 2012 study found that eliminating animal products from one's diet resulted in improved mood within two weeks! Animal products can have an inflammatory effect on the body.

Why do fruits and vegetables improve our mood? Because of the inhibitors of the depression-associated enzymes that are found in various plants. So eat those plants up! Really though, you don't need me telling you to eat plants...

...better moods on plant-based diets could also be from the good stuff in plants—a class of phytonutrients that cross the blood brain barrier into our heads. A recent review in the journal, Nutritional Neuroscience, suggests that eating lots of fruits and vegetables may present a noninvasive natural and inexpensive therapeutic means to support a healthy brain.
— Dr. Michael Greger

Aromatherapy

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It works. Sounds hokey, I know, but try it out. At the very least you'll smell nice!

In the morning and throughout the day I like to dab lavender oil on my wrists and neck. It's a very light and unoffending scent (unless you hate lavender). I use Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Lavender Oil. It's an easy buy at my grocery store, but you can find it on Amazon too. 

Lavender is known to have a very calming effect. That's why it's always in the heating pads. For more interesting information on lavender with regards to treating anxiety, check out this video and this video

If you really don't like lavender, orange oil is also known to lower anxiety levels. I use the doTerra Wild Orange Oil the same way as the lavender oil. Find out more about that in this great video. You can purchase orange oil at Amazon

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Incredibly, saffron has anti-anxiety properties. I actually started huffing saffron for my crippling cramps. However, I learned that it's reported to be just as effective as Prozac. Legit stuff. Look into it, you'll want to, from the video here. The best part is that you can buy it from the grocery store! Or from Amazon. Plus I really, really, like the way saffron smells. It's kind of pricy, but you don't actual use any of it. Just sniff it. Maybe try to refrain from doing it in public though...

 

Rooibos 

Rooibos, or red tea, can ease stress and anxiety. Researchers recently found that human adrenal gland cells in a petri dish produce about 4 times less steroid hormones, like cortisol, in the presence of rooibos.

I really like this organic Rooibos Chai by Numi. You can read more about how it beats stress here. Also, green tea is good for relaxing the mind. I drink tea throughout the day to keep me in relaxed state. Todd calls Rooibos, "monk tea" because it makes him feel super zen. Like a monk! 

Soothing and/or Uplifting Music

Listen to your favorite tunes to cheer you up or calm you down. These are some of my very favorites. 

Meditation

I meditate (or practice "mindfulness") at least four days a week for 15-30 minutes. It takes a little practice. Often I hear people say they could never meditate because they just can't stop thinking! Yeah...that's kind of the point of doing it. Your brain will always be thinking of things, even during meditation. The best advice I've heard is to let the thoughts come and go. Don't follow them and don't push them away. Like a cloud, just let them pass. If I'm really having trouble, I will focus on my breathing. 

I really like to use guided meditation, because I find the words of another very soothing. This isn't "image" guided meditation, mind you. I'm not a big fan of that for some reason. If you're interested, there a few apps I use and like a lot. The first is called Insight Timer. I have it on my phone. I also subscribe to Meditation Oasis with Mary Maddox, as a podcast on my phone. She is very relaxing to listen to. Loving kindness meditation is a wonderful thing to practice. Meditation is all about being "in the moment" and not worrying on the future, or regretting the past. 

I always meditate laying down, because it's more comfortable for me. There's no right or wrong way to go about doing it. Meditate however suits you best. Also, yoga is also a great way to slow down. I do yoga three days a week and meditate during the day and sometimes at night as well. 

Magnesium 

"The Original Chill Pill". Yep. Read ALL about it here, from Psychology Today. I won't go into detail, but magnesium has been scientifically proven to chill ya out, bro. I take a 250 mg supplement at night. It also helps with sleep (yay!) and constipation (no troubles in that department..) I make sure to get it from the foods I eat too. Foods that are high in magnesium are chard, pumpkin seeds, spinach, edamame, black beans, and quinoa. 

Heating Bag

I was gifted a flannel flaxseed filled bag for Christmas a few years ago and it is THE BEST THING EVER. Things are about to get real strange okay, but it's the truth.

I call it my "puppy" and Todd heats it up for three minutes every night in the microwave and I sleep with it. It's seriously my life. Sometimes if I'm really chilled or just need a snuggle bunny, I heat it up and lay it on my chest or neck. The weight and heat of it is so soothing. This is similar to what I have.

Misc. 

Exercise!! Very important. Get outside!! Also important. Snuggles with your favorite furry companion is definitely a stress soother. Breathing exercises are effective too. I like to take a big breath in and hold it for five seconds, let it out slowly and hold it out for five seconds. Repeat until you're as zen as a monk .

What do you do to help curb anxiety?

Lavender Rhubarb Shrub

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you ever heard of shrub? Have you ever had it before? Do you like vinegar? Are you an old soul? Is your grandmother your idol? Do you have an absurdly and unnecessary amount of fresh fruit? These are all good questions to ask oneself before engaging in this recipe today.

Shrub, if you don't know, is a drinking vinegar. What's that? Okay, let me be more specific. Shrub is generally equal parts fruit, sugar, and vinegar. The fruit is muddled with the sugar and let to rest for a day or two, then the fruit is removed and the vinegar is added. It's bottled and stored in the fridge for at least one week and up to half a year. The concoction is diluted in water or, if you choose, made into a cocktail.

Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub

My grandparents always made a raspberry shrub. They had vast rows upon rows of huge, plump raspberries and one way to use the excess berries was to make shrub. It's the taste of my childhood summers, their raspberry shrub. 

Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub

I decided to make my shrub with rhubarb and lavender because, well, I have a ton of the stuff and not so much in the way of raspberries. The rhubarb is delightfully tart in this sugary, sour shrub and the lavender lends a summery, floral essence. This shrub has been sitting in my fridge for two weeks in the flip-top bottles, and is just about perfect. As it sits in the fridge, the vinegar mellows and the flavors really meld together. 

My grandmother always said vinegar "cleans out your insides" and would often give us a shot of raw apple cider vinegar with water to choke down. This is much better.   

Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub

Lavender Rhubarb Shrub 

Makes 32 oz. 

Notes: As the shrub sits in the fridge, the vinegar will mellow and the flavors really meld together. Any fruit can be used in place of the rhubarb. Don't throw away the leftover sugared fruit! I bag it and freeze it, then use it in smoothies or a pie. Waste not, want not! 

  • 3 cups fresh rhubarb, diced 
  • 3 large sprigs of lavender
  • 3 cups vegan sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar

Combine the rhubarb, lavender, and sugar in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands, crushing the rhubarb between your fingers and really incorporating the sugar until it's a wet mess. This is important. It will take about 5 minutes. There shouldn't be any dry sugar left. 

Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 24-48 hours. After a time, the rhubarb should be surrounded by a watery liquid and bubbles should start to form. 

Now, strain the rhubarb pressing into a mesh sieve to extract all the juices. There'll be a lot of sugar leftover in the bowl. Try to keep as much of it as possible. Add back the rhubarb juice and stir into the sugar. Now, stir in the vinegar. 

Transfer to bottles and store in the fridge for at least one week and up to half a year. Dilute to taste in water, or cocktails. And with ice, always with ice. Crushed if possible. I use about a 1 part shrub to 5 parts water. 

Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub
Produce On Parade - Lavender Rhubarb Shrub

German Word of The Day

Vinegar --> Essig (S-ich)

Good Deed of The Day

Neanderthals were "mainly vegetarian." Surprise! Inform yourself and read the rest of the article, here. So go Paleo! Which would be mainly vegetarian. 

The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

I have a different blueberry muffin recipe on Produce On Parade. You can see it here. But I didn't do my homework well enough. Move aside old blueberry muffins because these muffins will top any other blueberry muffin you've ever have tried. Yes, I am making that claim. I will never look for a different base recipe for blueberry muffins. They are that good. I of course "veganized", and "snobbified" this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. If you don't know about Cook's Illustrated then you better go find out about here. I can pretty much credit everything I've ever learned about how to cook well, to my parents and Cook's Illustrated. Cook's Illustrated is a magazine. They also have a site online as well as podcasts! Growing up, my grandparents as well as my parents subscribed to the magazine and I looked forward to it every month. I loved the always changing watercolor illustrations of various fruits and vegetables that was on the back cover. Yet, my favorite part of the magazine was the "Taste Test" part, where they ranked various canned/boxed or jarred food items by taste and affordability. I also loved the "What Is It?" article. Readers send in photos of some random and obscure kitchen gadgets that they found in their great grandmother's kitchen and they are explained in detail what they are and what they were used for. In regards to the images in the magazine, most are all sketched as opposed to actual photos which is really cool. As somewhat of an artist myself, I always cherished that. Though, I don't get the magazines anymore because I use the online subscription.

Don't know the difference between quinoa and couscous? Does chopping an onion take more than 5 minutes? If you're new to cooking, or just looking to better your chef skills, Cooks Illustrated is where to get your start. They even have an online "cooking school". Take a look at their site to see recipes, equipment reviews (which I love!), and taste tests. America's Test Kitchen is under the same umbrella as Cook's Illustrated as well as Cook's Country and they're one of my favorite shows on television. If you've never checked out the show, there's a link to when they air on TV, here. I feel I should note that I am in no way affiliated with them, though I wish I was...I just really think there's a lot to learn from them!

Okay, so let's remember this muffin recipe was inspired by them. They are divine. I made these for our family's August birthday party. Todd as well as my Grandma, Grandpa, Dad and Uncle all have August birthdays so we just have one big celebration towards the end of the month. I will tell you that there was German chocolate (the standard) as well as red velvet cake at the party, but my little brother only wanted the muffins. He kept asking me, "Is it okay if I have another?" I think he had three or four! There are no words to describe how perfect these muffins are.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

There are no words to describe how perfect these muffins are. They are so incredibly moist and fluffy. The wild blueberries lend a robust tartness, the lavender is floral and comforting and the sugar sprinkled on top gives a nice, sweet crunch. I don't know if I'll be able to resist making them again this weekend.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

Inspired by Cook's Illustrated

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 2 Tbsp. cold water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated vegan sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) vegan sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, wild if you can find them
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lavender, minced
  • extra sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a regular 12 muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin by placing the ground flaxseed in a small bowl and whisking in the cold water. Place in the fridge and let rest until called for.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

In a electric stand mixer bowl or a large bowl add the flax egg and the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute. Next, add the butter and whisk until combined. Then add the vanilla, and finally add the sour cream in two steps, mixing only to combine.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

Add the frozen blueberries as well as the lavender to the dry mixture, and toss to coat.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

Then, gently fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until they're just combined. Be very cautious not to overmix. There may even be some sprays of flour and that's okay. The batter should be very thick.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

Drop an even amount of dough into the muffin pan. Do not flatten or arrange the batter and do not overfill. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Rotate the pan at the 15 minute mark.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

The muffins should be somewhat firm and a light golden brown around the edges at 30 minutes.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

Once the muffins are done baking, release them onto a wire cooling rack and stand them up right. Sprinkle with sugar if you like, and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins Produce On Parade - The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins

The Best Lavender Blueberry Muffins
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Katie - Produce On Parade
Serves: 12
There are no words to describe how perfect these muffins are. They are so incredibly moist and fluffy. The wild blueberries lend a robust tartness, the lavender is floral and comforting and the sugar sprinkled on top gives a nice, sweet crunch. I don't know if I'll be able to resist making them again this weekend.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 2 Tbsp. cold water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated vegan sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) vegan sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, wild if you can find them
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lavender, minced
  • extra sugar, for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a regular 12 muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Begin by placing the ground flaxseed in a small bowl and whisking in the cold water. Place in the fridge and let rest until called for.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In a electric stand mixer bowl or a large bowl add the flax egg and the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute. Next, add the butter and whisk until combined. Then add the vanilla, and finally add the sour cream in two steps, mixing only to combine.
  5. Add the frozen blueberries as well as the lavender to the dry mixture, and toss to coat. Then, gently fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until they're just combined. Be very cautious not to overmix. There may even be some sprays of flour and that's okay. The batter should be very thick.
  6. Drop an even amount of dough into the muffin pan. Do not flatten or arrange the batter and do not overfill. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.Rotate the pan at the 15 minute mark.
  7. The muffins should be somewhat firm and a light golden brown around the edges at 30 minutes.
  8. Once the muffins are done baking, release them onto a wire cooling rack and stand them up right. Sprinkle with sugar if you like, and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container.