Micro & Macro Nutrients

One of the first questions I get when I tell someone I am vegan is if I take a bunch of vitamins. The truth is no, I don’t take any vitamins. A lot of vegan do use supplements, but I am horrible about remembering to take medication and vitamins, so I have opted out of it. Not to mention, I would much rather get my micro and macro nutrients from natural sources. My doctor is aware of my dietary choices and my blood work looks great, so I am currently not worried about it.

Protein is a huge concern for people when learning about a vegan lifestyle. I have heard a million times “what about protein?”, but what people don’t realize is there are ton of non-meat protein sources. Here are some helpful tips for including protein-rich foods in your daily life.

  • Almonds, peanuts, cashews and other nuts are famous for being protein-packed. You can make cheese and mayo spreads from cashews. You can make almond butter and peanut butter to spread on your toast or eat with fruit. I love to make our own trail mix with cashews, almonds, dried cranberries, dried coconut, and pumpkin seeds for a protein-filled snack.
  • Chickpeas are ones of my favorite foods. I eat them almost every day and they are so versatile. They can be seasoned and baked for an on-the-go snack or added to your salad. Regular cooked chickpeas are even great for salads. I love hummus. It’s one of my staple lunch foods. You can make your own or buy some already made and there are dozens of different flavor options. You can choose from crushed red pepper, garlic, original, artichoke, jalapeno lemon, dill, or any other flavor that you prefer. I usually pack hummus with some baby carrots and celery for part of my lunch at work. We also love to eat hummus with corn tortillas. You should definitely try it sometime!
  • Tofu is another great protein option. We don’t eat much tofu because I worry about too much soy intake, but a lot of vegetarians and vegans enjoy tofu in their recipes. A lot of Indian inspired dishes include tofu. It takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with, so when we do use tofu, we like to add a lot of spices. It is even an option for some cheese alternatives such as the ricotta in lasagna.
  • I’m sure this comes as a no-brainer for you, but beans are a great protein source too. Beans and rice are an awesome budget-friendly meal. We love vegan chili and it is packed with beans and warms up great as leftovers. A lot of vegan brownie recipes call for black beans too. I am not a baker, so I haven’t tried my hand at making brownies, but I think it’s a great idea.

Iron deficiency (anemia) is a concern that I personally have. Women are at a higher risk for anemia than men, but vegetarian and vegans alike are concerned with the decrease in iron-rich foods. Meat products are a large component of iron in people’s diets, so being vegan means being in-the-know about alternatives.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are great sources of iron. Broccoli is great raw or steamed. Kale and spinach are incredibly versatile ingredients. They can be eaten in salads, wraps, and sandwiches. I like to massage my kale before eating it raw because it mellows out the flavor and texture, but my husband loves the strong taste. They are also great cooked in soups because they wilt and coordinate well with many flavors. Because of the vitamin K substance in dark green leafy vegetables, I suggest consulting your doctor if you take the medication Coumadin (Warfarin) before increasing your consumption of these foods. If you are taking Coumadin, the vitamin K could decrease the medication’s effectiveness.
  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are packed with iron too!
  • Pumpkin, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds are great sources of iron. Pumpkin seeds can be bought in bulk and added to trail mix. You can also season and bake fresh pumpkin seeds. Any of these can be added to salads for a bit of extra crunch or, if you make your own bread, you can add sesame and/or flax seeds to your loaf.
  • A physician I used to work with told me that coconut palm sugar is an ingredient she uses when she becomes anemic. I started using it in moderation instead of regular white sugar and I haven’t even noticed a difference in taste.

Vitamin D is a micro-nutrient that people in the northeast (vegans and non-vegans alike) struggle to consume enough of. Companies have actually resorted to fortifying some foods with vitamin D (such as cereals and dairy products). Living in an area that doesn’t see much sunshine can increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency because our skin is made to create the vitamin from the sun’s exposure. This is a large contributor to seasonal depression.

  • Mushrooms are an easy-additive for vitamin D intake. We add mushrooms to many of our favorite foods including salads, sandwiches, sauces, pizzas, soups and anything else that we can sneak it into. Mushrooms have a lot of medicinal properties and some studies suggest that the consumption of mushrooms on a daily basis can decrease a person’s risk for cancer.
  • Just like cow’s milk, some almond and soy milks are fortified with vitamin D. We prefer unsweetened original almond milk, but you should use what you think tastes best.
  • If you have the opportunity to enjoy sunlight, it’s the best (and cheapest) way to increase your vitamin D intake. Being outside with exposed skin allows your body to create vitamin D intrinsically.
  •  Oh, tofu has vitamin D too!

 

There are so many foods that are nutrient dense and contain one or more of the above listed items. A lot of people utilize tools and apps such as “MyFitnessPal” to track their micro and macro-nutrients. I personally have decided to eat intuitively instead of tracking, but you should find what works best for you. With any diet or lifestyle change, it may get a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor beforehand. He/She will be able to guide you in the best health-conscious direction for your body’s specific needs.

Knowledge is power.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Confidence is Key

Confidence is something that a lot of people struggle to find, but I’ve learned that it’s actually something that you create for yourself. I always wondered how some women found such confidence. It’s not that they don’t deserve it, we all do, but it looked so easily accomplished for them.

Recently I noticed that the moments when I felt most confident were when I was investing in myself. By working on the things that I love and that give value to my life, such as photography, I valued myself more. I stopped making my worth equivalent to my appearance and started appreciating that I am so much more than what I look like.

Have you ever heard someone say to “fall in love with a person’s personality and not their beauty” (or some something along those lines)? That’s because looks fade and/or alter, but who a person truly is will stay for a lifetime. Building your sense of identity from who you are as a being instead of your physical appearance is bound to make you much happier in the end.

Take time to enjoy your passions. Find things that you love to do and practice them. Building your skill set and realizing your talents is a great way to increase confidence. Sure, you are going to have days that are tougher than others, but know that you are beautiful AND so much more. If you need to remind yourself of that every day, then so be it.

I’m a wife, a dog mom, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a coworker, a photographer, a blogger…but on a deeper level I’m creative, kind, smart, intuitive, compassionate, and strong-willed. By respecting myself and investing in my interests/health, I have found a greater worth in my life and more confidence in myself.

Find what makes you happy and focus on it! Capitalize on your strengths and what makes you happy.

I have a challenge for you today: I want you to list five things that make you a great friend/significant other/parent, five things that you love to do, and five things that you love about yourself.

You are a great person and I hope you are able to build your confidence and realize your worth.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Molding Little Minds

A few days ago I wrote about how to be generous, but today I want to talk about how to teach generosity. I don’t have children, but I have a lot of experience with children. I have four younger brothers, over a dozen younger cousins, and a niece. I was also a pediatric home health aide and a pediatric nurse for some time. Not to mention, I just overall love children. I’m no expert, but I get them. When thinking about having children in my future, I often contemplate about my childhood and what I would have done differently if I were my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I think they did an overall great job raising us, but there are some things that I would have done differently if given the resources and the ability.

We didn’t have allowance growing up because if we wanted something that my parents could afford, we would typically get it for a holiday. We didn’t officially do chores either. There wasn’t a ton of structure when it came to that type of thing. I love my mom very much, but she’s not great at following through with things. She would ground me for a month, but a week or two in, I would get my stuff back. Or we would start a project and never finish it.

When I have children, I want to start them with chores as soon as possible. Things as little as grabbing their own cups/snacks, putting away clean dishes, filling the dogs food dish and the like can give a child a sense of purpose, responsibility, and accomplishment. Generosity works in the same way.

When my husband and I have children, I want to allow them the opportunity to earn an allowance. By doing age appropriate tasks, they will be able to earn their very own money. I once read about a breakdown of allowance for children that I thought was a great idea. For example, if your child receives $6 per week for completing their chores, $2 would be for savings, $2 would be for donation, and $2 would be for their own spending. Having this discussion with your child will create understanding of how their money will be allotted. Have your child go with you to the bank to deposit their savings money. And, when saved up, have your child go with you to donate money to a cause that they choose. For example, if you child is passionate about animals, have them go with you to buy treats for the animals and then go with your child to the shelter to drop off the donation. Having your child directly involved in generosity and donations from an early age will ingrain these thoughts in their mind. They will be able to visual realize how grateful and happy what they did made other people and animals.

Another great way to teach children about generosity is for the adults in their life to be generous. Children look up to their parents and other influential adults greatly and like they say, monkey see, monkey do. By being a generous and kind individual, you are teaching your children how to be a good person first hand. My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was about eleven years old and I have crocheted countless blankets,  scarves, hats, booties… many of which have been donated. Involve your child in your charity work. If you are crocheting scarves for a Native American Reservation in Arizona or fleece blankets for Project Linus, teach your child how to crochet and have them help you crochet some. Not only will you be helping others, but you will be spending quality time together. Don’t know how to crochet? That’s okay! See my recent post about ways to be generous and bring your kiddo along for the ride. Baking cookies for your local hospital staff, picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor, or donating clothes/toys to Salvation Army are great options too!

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about being a good person. The little people of today are the leaders of tomorrow and it is time well spent to help them grow into kind/healthy adults. However you decide to do it, I admire your commitment. I know it isn’t easy being a parent, but I can only imagine how rewarding it can be.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Toxic Members

I want you to think about all of the people you have met in your lifetime. Some will only be in your life for a moment, some will linger, and others will stay and make a lasting impact. What affects who stays and who leaves? There’s a number of variables that could affect this. Now let’s think about toxic people specifically. By this, I mean the people who negatively affect your life more than their positive influence. This could be a friend, family member, or significant other. When I think about this, two specific people come into my mind.

The one individual was a childhood friend. I wrote about her previously; she was an only child. We became friends when I was about four years old and we grew up together. I moved out of the state when we were mid-way through elementary school. We would see each other about once a year because it was difficult to get together when neither of us drove. In high school she started hanging out with the wrong crowd and partying regularly. It didn’t really bother me because it didn’t involve me, but I worried about her. Her grades were dropping and she was getting into fights at school. When I finally got my license (I was almost eighteen), I went to visit her. We planned to have a girls’ night and catch up, but when I got there she had friends over and told me that we were going to a party. She knew I had never been to a party before and that I wasn’t comfortable with it, but she wasn’t considering what I wanted at that point. I didn’t know any of her friends and it was just an uncomfortable situation in general. I spent the next few hours talking to her parents while the girls got ready and then we went out. I found the designated driver drinking right off the bat, so I confiscated her keys and designated myself as driver (thank god the car wasn’t manual because I would have been useless). So I spent the next five hours being the only sober person among about a hundred strangers in the woods while keeping tabs on all of the girls that we brought. There were fireworks, drugs, fights, vomiting,… and I was not happy to find myself in this predicament (although I was glad to be there because there wouldn’t have been a sober driver if I wasn’t). I had to play babysitter when we got home. We didn’t hang out again for a while. I tried to reconnect several times in the upcoming years, but she always had an excuse. The only time she invited me to hang out with her was when she was going to a bar with her friends, but my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I weren’t comfortable with attending – she was pregnant and would probably be drinking and that’s a hard no for me. When I invited her to hang out next, she said financially she couldn’t go for lunch. I said don’t worry about it, it’s my treat. She continued to have excuses and at that point I finally had enough. We had an argument and that was the end of our friendship. Honestly, it was such a freeing feeling. I no longer had to worry about being dragged into something I wasn’t comfortable with. I was holding onto the relationship because of how long we were friends. We had history, but that only goes so far. We didn’t even know each other well anymore, but she was a piece of my past that I didn’t want to let go of. She would only call me when she needed something, would make rude comments to me at times, and never had my best interests in mind. That’s not a friendship. It wasn’t healthy and it was nice to finely close that door.

I still wish her happiness and health. I hope that life is treating her well and that she figures out what she wants in life, but I am glad that I won’t have to be there for the journey. I thought that made me a bad person for a while. I thought I was being selfish, but then I realized that the relationship was toxic. And it’s okay to release the toxic people from your life.

I’m not saying to give up on all relationships and to push everyone away. Trust me, I have friendships that have needed work, but we both worked at it and put aside our differences. It wasn’t a one-way street with them. We both admitted faults and worked through them. Balance is key. And balance was something that I would never achieve with my childhood friend.

Love yourself enough to know when you need to let go and set toxic people free.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Settling for the Best Life

Today I want to talk to you about not settling for what already is and working toward living your best life. This can start small such as your kitchen cabinets or can be a larger issue like not having the time or money to do what you love.

I recently decided that it was time to reorganize our kitchen. I always dreaded cooking in our kitchen because it was difficult to find the things that I needed. We had most of our spices in a plastic bin in the cupboards over our sink. Some were on a spinning spice rack on a shelf under our kitchen island. The rest were in jars in our dining room where we kept our wine glasses. I hated having to dig through three different places when cooking to find what we needed. So instead of accepting that this is just how things have to be, I decided to move everything around. We ended up moving our canned goods and putting all of our spices in the stacked cupboards on the wall. Having all of our spices visible and in one place helps us to decrease our time searching and increase our time enjoying our food and time together. This is something little that has decreased my stress in a big way.

I have the unfortunate habit of biting off more than I can chew. I love to be busy and, at times, my commitments have overwhelmed my schedule. When I was in nursing school I was not only doing school full-time, but also had a part-time job as a home health aide, part-time over night job as a private aide for a person at a senior living facility, and worked as a photographer part time in my own business. We were making ends meet, traveling, but I never had scheduled time to rest. I ended up leaving my over night job so I could focus on school more and sleep from time-to-time. It meant less income for our household, but we made it work and with the extra sleep I was much less stressed. Ultimately it was the best decision for my relationship, education, and health. Life is all about balance.

Money is something that stresses a lot of people out. My husband is currently in college full time working toward a degree, so we are down to one income at the moment. I have done a ton of research on budgeting and money management which has helped us to not only build our Emergency fund to over two grand, but also decrease debt which in turn helped our credit scores. If money is something that you worry about, it’s okay. There is so much you can do to positively influence this part of your life while still having fun. I am going to be posting tomorrow about budgeting specifically.

Pinpoint what is affecting your happiness and stress levels. Do what is within your control to positively influence and whatever is out of your control, try not to dwell on.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make a huge difference in your comfort and happiness.

You are worth the effort.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Meal Prepping Tips

Meal prepping is something that I have struggled with a lot, but am working on. I am that person who puts together a lunch in the morning with whatever can be found in the kitchen. I have learned a lot in the past few months about what works and doesn’t work for my family. Here are some tips and tricks for healthy and delicious meal prepping.

  1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop: I am guilty of grocery shopping and then having to go back out to the store because I didn’t get everything I needed for lunches. Depending on your schedule and location, you might only be able to get to the store once a week. Make sure you schedule the time to meal prep beforehand so you can save yourself time and money. Every time you go to the store is another opportunity to make unnecessary purchases. If you are working on your budgeting skills, try limiting the number of times that you go to the store and sticking to a list of needed supplies.
  2. Prep 3 days at a time: I feel like this is a manageable amount of prepping that can be done easily while the food maintains freshness. For us, meal prepping is easiest on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. On Sundays we make a crockpot meal such as soup or chili and section them into enough storage containers for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then on Wednesday, we will food prep for Thursday and Friday with veggies (baby carrots and celery), hummus, peanut butter, and strawberries for example. You can switch up the crockpot meal, veggies, and fruit or do a spinach with chickpea salad.
  3. Use several different sized containers: We have reusable containers that we use regularly (mostly glass, but some plastic). This decreases our waste from plastic baggies. Using different sized containers to hold hummus, salad dressing, and other condiments, can keep your foods from getting soggy. And three days isn’t long enough to wilt vegetables in a covered container.
  4. Stock up on regularly used items: We usually stock up on things like chickpeas that we use frequently and have a long shelf-life. Check your local newspaper for sales in your area or get an app such as “Flipp” to find places to get the best deals on your favorite items. I even have the Walmart app that allows me to scan in receipts and if they find a better deal elsewhere, I am refunded the difference. I have actually gotten back money on that app on things that I normally would buy anyway! We purchase most of our food from Aldi and Wegmans, but I’m sure you can find awesome deals near you if you look closely. Planning ahead of time for meals can decrease your stress levels from doing it last minute and help you to find the best prices for what you need.
  5. Check Online: If you are struggling to figure out easy recipes for lunches, don’t be afraid to check out blogs, websites, and Pinterest to save the day! I love searching through blogs about people’s favorite recipes and can always find something that is both easy to prepare and vegan. Like I said earlier, crockpots are my favorite way to meal prep because it’s so easy. You can put it all together and just forget about it for hours. That’s my kind of cooking.

 

Take things three days at a time and before you know it, meal prepping will be a habit and a built-in part of your schedule. Planning your meals ahead of time helps to maintain a health diet at an affordable rate.

You got this.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

T.V. Dinner

My family always ate dinner together at the table. We would spend the time away from our phones and with the television turned off. We were forced to have genuine conversations and enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I started spending time at friends’ houses. I remember one particular childhood friend’s parents would cook her dinner first, she would eat it alone (or with me if I was there) in front of the television, and then her parents would cook their own separate meal later. This happened even when she didn’t have friends over. She was an only child and I remember thinking about how lonely she must feel.

Fast-forward to this week. My husband, brother, and I had dinner at my mom’s house a few days ago. We all sat down at the table and there was a moment when I thought to myself, “Wow, it’s so quiet. Oh, it must be because the television isn’t on. What are we supposed to do now?” The moment passed and then we spent the next hour sitting there enjoying food, laughter, and each other’s company. That was my “aha” moment, when I realized that my husband and I were spending our dinners together, but in front of our phones and television. There wouldn’t be silence, but there also wouldn’t be much conversation either.

After visiting with my mom, we (my husband and I) had a conversation about our current dining habits. We agreed that changes needed to be made and we decided that a reasonable goal for us would be to eat dinner together at the table at least five times a week.

Two nights ago we took the time to cook together and my brother was able to sit down to eat with us. We ended up spending the next three hours talking, laughing, and playing music together. It was nice to have that quality time with the people that I love. With our busy schedules, it doesn’t happen often these days.

It’s about the quality of time, not the quantity. Like many others, evenings might be the only time that you can spend with your loved ones. Instead of spending it with your face in your phone or glued to the television screen, take the hour to actually talk with those around you. Whether that means discussing how your day went, talking about what you have planned for the upcoming week, or re-evaluating your goals, it is time well-spent.

Cherish your loved ones and the time that you have together. Changing your dinner habits is a great start to healthier relationships and more meaningful conversations.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Tricks Are For Kids

When I worked as a pediatric nurse in a primary care office, a common complaint that parents had was that they couldn’t get their children to eat healthy foods. Kids are notorious for being picky eaters, but adults can be finicky with their foods too. I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve if you are trying to get the picky eater in your life to eat healthier.

  1. Cauliflower: This is a great alternative to rice and potatoes. If your kiddo likes rice, try cauliflower rice. You can buy pre-made frozen cauliflower rice at your local grocery store or make it at home with a head of cauliflower. All you have to do is pulse it through a food processor (or blender) until it resembles rice. Then just cook the “rice” on a pan until it starts to get tender. Serve it with any of your child’s favorite toppings. You can also make “mashed potatoes” out of cauliflower. I have never tried a recipe for this, but I have heard it’s really good!
  2. Banana: Freeze a few bananas and make it into ice cream! You can even put a few chocolate chips in their ice cream if they have a super sweet tooth. Another great idea is smoothies. You can sneak greens into their smoothies or just keep it full of berries that are loaded with antioxidants.
  3. Spaghetti squash: Everyone loves spaghetti with meatballs (or soy-based meatless meatballs in our case). Change out spaghetti for spaghetti squash. This is such a delicious alternative that the whole family can love (especially if it is covered in an awesome homemade pasta sauce).
  4. Cookies/muffins: There are so many options for sneaking vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, or pumpkin into your baking. With cold months ahead of us, I will definitely be searching the web for some vegetable infused baked goods.
  5. Sauces: Try adding cheese (or nutritional yeast) to their vegetables. You can also puree vegetables and put them into sauces such as pasta sauce or pizza sauce. This will add nutrients to their food without changing the look or the flavor enough to be noticed.

Picky eaters can be tough critics, but being persistent can open up the opportunity for you to find a food that your little one (or picky adult) actually enjoys. Be creative and have fun with it.

I have four little brothers (ranging in age from ten to twenty-two years old) and the eleven year old is a super picky eater. His diet consists of plain cereal, pasta with butter, and ice cream. Sometimes my mom just has to make him a milkshake with Carnations instant breakfast and call it a success.

Hopefully they will grow out of their picky eating stage, but in the meantime, don’t give up on sneaking in healthy options.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Week-long Vacations on a Budget

Weekend get-aways are awesome, but do you know what’s even better? A week long vacation! Yesterday I shared some tips and tricks for a weekend vacation, but today I want to talk about longer vacations and how to save money while having an amazing experience.

I am going to be pulling experiences from my Maine 2016 and 2018 vacations to the Rockport/Camden area. If you ever have the opportunity to to visit that area, I strongly suggest it.

  • Both times we rented a cabin from Megunticook campground. The campground is right along the water, so we spent breakfast along the sea and watched the sunset over the water. The cabins have electricity, so when we went at the end of the season in 2016 (saved money because it wasn’t busy season), we brought our own electric space heater which was a life saver. I will post the campsite’s website below.
  • Just like a weekend away, we plan ahead for our meals. When we know what we will be having for each meal, we will save money from bringing food from home and not eating out every night. We plan our meals according to what will last the longest and what will need to defrost. For example, if we pack frozen veggies and regular produce, we will eat the regular produce before eating the frozen foods because they will thaw on their own in our cooler. Another lifesaver for us was bringing our electric burner on our 2018 trip to Maine. This allowed us to boil water and cook without constantly having to make a fire.
  • While we are talking about food, you will probably get hungry during your drive if you are traveling far from home. For our 2018 trip I packed a reusable chopping bag with snacks such as almonds, fruit, granola bars, mints, and water. When we got hungry, we would just grab a snack from the bag at my feet instead of stopping at a rest stop and eating junk food or having to go through all of our packed food for a treat.
  • If you are traveling on a road that has tolls, be sure to bring a little sandwich bag or mason jar full of quarters. Even if you don’t think you will have to pay tolls, bring quarters. You never want to find yourself at a toll or paying for parking without any small bills or cash on hand. Oh, and don’t forget to notify your bank that you will be out of town! There is nothing worse than getting your cards or bank account frozen while on vacation.
  • Do some research about local events/museums/scenery… in the area that you will be traveling to. My husband and I love museums, so on our 2016 trip we visited a lighthouse museum and on our 2018 trip we visited several art museums and a transportation museum. Be on the look-out for museums that are linked with other attractions. Some museums’ tickets will grant you access to other museums in the area (like The MET in NYC). Some other great (free/cheap) options are swimming at beaches, finding lighthouses and hiking at state parks. During our 2018 trip we found an adorable beach along the coast and decided to eat our packed lunch there. We also found a ton of cute little shops to browse through. We even found the cutest little bakery with delicious pastries that were affordable and amazing (this trip was pre-vegan). Do your research, but don’t make yourself stick to a plan. Have ideas of what you want to do, but if you find something you like better, do it! Live in the moment.
  • We also plan what meals we will eat out instead of cooking ourselves. Usually we will eat breakfast at a little diner the day we leave our trip. We also picked one lunch and one dinner to eat at a local restaurant. Oh, and one night that we went out just for drinks after dinner! By talking with local people you can find great food for a great price.
  • Drive around aimlessly. Remember that beach I told you about? We found that on accident. We also found antique shops, lighthouses, bakeries, pizzerias, breweries, and museums just by driving around. Don’t rely strictly on Google searches for your vacation. Not only will you find awesome places to experience, but amazing views. One of my favorite things about that area of Maine is how much lavender grows wildly. The stuff is everywhere! It is so beautiful and it took everything in me to not come home with bunches of the stuff.

 

MEGUNTICOOK CAMPGROUND https://megunticookcampgrounds.com/

 

Planning is a great way to get your cost-efficient vacation started, but don’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy your time to relax and recover from daily life.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Anxiety

Chances are that somebody in your life is living with anxiety right at this moment (whether you realize it or not). If that somebody is you, I hope that what I will write in this post will help you. If not, this post may be able to help you relieve stress from your life.

Anxiety is something that I have lived with for about ten years now. There are a ton of different kinds of anxiety and I am not going to pretend that I know how everyone with anxiety feels, but I am going to list things that help my anxiety below.

  1. Essential Oils: I don’t know what it is about them, but lavender in particular will help me to relax if I am having a stressful day or feeling a little extra anxious. Orange is another great scent that will help me to feel energized and leave the house smelling so clean and fresh. There are a ton of different brands of essential oils out there and I’m honestly not sure how to tell which are better quality (although it is something that I want to do more research on), but I have bought some from MLM companies, Big Lots, Amazon, and even Walmart. I have a couple diffusers in my house and all i have to do is fill them with water, put in a few drops of the oil of my choice, and turn it on. I learned recently that some essential oils can have negative effects on pets, so talk with your veterinarian or do your own research if this is something that you have to consider. I have also been gifted essential oils that are in a diluting liquid (I’m not 100% sure on the process) and can be rolled onto my skin – I typically will rub it into my wrists – but I wouldn’t advise putting regular essential oils on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do.
  2. Deep Breathing Exercises: When I find myself getting worked up and increasingly anxious, I tell myself to take ten deep breaths while closing my eyes and count them as I go. (inhale through my nose – hold for a moment – exhale through my mouth – “one”) By forcing myself to focus on my breathing, I am momentarily distracting my brain from what it was being anxious about. I usually feel much better after ten deep breaths. Going to new places is one of my sources of anxiety. I know that the longer I procrastinate getting out of the car, the harder it will be for me. I allow myself to take one deep breath and then quickly open the door and get out of the vehicle. The more I let myself stew about the “what if” possibilities, the worse the situation will be and the worse I will feel. If you meditate, this is another awesome idea. Meditation on a regular basis is like a stronger and more effective form of deep breathing exercises. It forces you to release what tension you have and return yourself to a peaceful center. Meditation is something I am new at and still working on, but I have already found it to be helpful.
  3. Do a Craft: Art is a great outlet for frustration and anxiety. By forcing my emotions out through creativity, I am not only releasing tension and distracting my brain, but I am creating something that can be useful or is beautiful. Some examples of this could be crocheting, coloring, drawing, poetry, photography, wood burning, calligraphy, or any other craft/hobby that you like. It is so important to find your outlet and realize when you can benefit most from practicing your craft.
  4. Read a Book: I love to read. When I get into a good book, reality slips away from me. Having a break from the real world is sometimes just what I need. Pro tip – although there is nothing like the hard copy of a book, e-readers are great for people who are working on minimizing their possessions and living a simpler life. You can also find coloring apps and much more on most tablets, phones, and computers.
  5. Cleaning: I know that this sounds really cliche. I also know that this actually works for me. I think it’s partly because being around clutter and knowing that I have a long list of things that need to get done is subconsciously a huge source of my anxiety. By cleaning my house, I am able to get my frustration out while working on fixing what is making me so on-edge.
  6. Exercise: I used to be a runner. I’m not saying that I did track in high school or ran marathons or anything, I just used to run every day to get my stress and frustration out. This is something that I hope to pick back up again because it worked so incredibly well for me. It was like I was running away from my anxiety. Not everyone enjoys running, but just about any form of exercise can release endorphins in your body and help with your mental/emotional well-being.

I wish that I could guarantee that if you do these six things, your anxiety will be cured and you will feel great. That just isn’t reality. You need to figure out what works for you and go with it. If that means you need to turn music up loud and sing at the top of your lungs, do it. If you have to write out letters telling yourself that you are going to be okay and get through this, do it. You need to do whatever it is that is going to make life easier for you. Anxiety can be a real pain in the butt and affect a lot of your life, but it only has as much power as you give it. Don’t give up and keep working on your coping mechanisms.

Make yourself and your mental/emotional well-being a priority.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

P.S. There is nothing wrong with talking to a trained professional. They can be incredibly helpful in targeting what your anxiety triggers are and figuring out how you can deal with them.