Welcome to From Panic to Plate!

Welcome to a safe place where you can read about two different things which are often connected: my experiences with anxiety and my experiences with food.

Read my story in the About section to learn about my journey of being diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

I look forward to inspiring your minds by both keeping the conversation regarding mental illness open and honest and by sharing recipes with you I have enjoyed making over the past few years.

Cheers,

– M.

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Let’s Talk About SAD

It feels like the middle of January but is somehow the middle of April. This past weekend, an ice storm hit, seemingly out of nowhere (I am clearly not a meteorologist and am probably embodying “fake news”). It has been dark and dreary out, and not in the rainy spring days kind of way.

There are so many beautiful things about spring – there is a feeling of re-birth, fresh beginnings, and growth. The sun is out for longer periods of time, the flowers are growing, and even the smell of rain seems to bring a sense of comfort (except the sight of it while driving does not).

This darkness we’re experiencing, however, reminds us that the sun may be out (sometimes) but it is still frigidly cold out. The plants are still dead. And, at this moment, there is still snow on the ground.

It becomes increasingly difficult, it seems, to break from the grasp of seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes referred to as SAD), as the name suggests, is a type of depression that appears at different parts of the year, which may align with the changing of the seasons.

Common symptoms, as outlined in the DSM-5, include:

  • Feeling of sadness or depressed mood
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
  • Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
  • Increase in restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

It’s important to note that these symptoms are very similar to major depression. Before you try to self-diagnose yourself with SAD, seek help from a professional as you may be feeling depressed, but it may not necessarily be SAD.

It is also important to note that seasonal affective disorder is a real psychiatric disorder. However, scientific research continues to be conducted to clarify the debate.

For some more resources about Seasonal Affective Disorder, go to:

https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2/

http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/seasonal-affective-disorder

Hopefully spring is right around the corner (for real this time) so we can get some good old sunshine and vitamin D. Until then, stay warm, friends.

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It Ain’t All Bad

I think I get so caught up in the moment, especially while I am running on the adrenaline rush of an anxious moment (fight or flight), I sometimes forget to stop and realize that although I have moments where I feel like nothing is right, everything is wrong, and things are falling apart, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t all that bad.

(Can you tell by that run-on sentence I still have residual anxiety from the weekend?)

Here are a few of my “It ain’t all bad” thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. I have a job I love with people I love working with.
  2. My clients may have bad days, or bad moments, but they are humans too, just like me. I have bad days. I have bad moments. I am making a difference in their lives. But life, as we know, can have its share of hiccups.
  3. My thesis is hard work right now, and I may feel like I don’t have much of a social life because of it, but in the future, I will be looking back, not remembering the negative feelings of it all, but just the satisfaction of getting my master’s degree that I worked so hard to get.
  4. I don’t feel guilty about eating that chocolate chip cookie because it was delicious.
  5. I get to hear birds singing out of my window every morning. Nature is beautiful.
  6. Money can be earned and saved in the future. Seeing the world and traveling with my best friend has greater value than the cost of the trip.
  7. My car gets me to and from the places I want and need to go.
  8. My friend group talks every single day in a group chat and I think that it’s wonderful that even though we are growing up and don’t get to see each other all the time that we still make time to send funny pictures or share things about our lives each day.
  9. I love having friends who know that even though we don’t talk every day, love and support is just a text or call away no matter what.
  10. The same is true for my family members.
  11. I’m learning to accept a lot of different things in my life. I am stronger than I ever was.
  12. I have access to delicious food each day.
  13. Soon it will be summer and I will likely be complaining that it is too hot rather than it being too cold like it is now.
  14. My boyfriend makes me feel loved, respected, and beautiful. I have never felt so comfortable being myself with someone. I wish everyone had the chance to feel the way I feel just by hearing his voice.
  15. I am 25 years old and I still call my mom for help with things like making gravy. She also knows how to pick my clothes out for me better than I can. My mom is my favourite person in the whole world.

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Hello April!

Happy Easter, everyone! Here we are in a new month and with a new month come new opportunities and new goals to be set.

This month’s focus is: eliminating distractions.

Like the rest of us (probably…I shouldn’t generalize), I enjoy unwinding with a Netflix show or spending countless hours on Pinterest pinning recipes or clothing ideas or exercise ideas (rather than actually exercising).

This month is going to be a busy one:

  • My first draft of my master’s thesis is due in three weeks from today.
  • I am going on a trip at the end of the month
  • My friend is visiting next week
  • I am helping develop a training guide for work

Goals:

  • Get work done each night.
  • No Netflix as breaks, unwind at the end of the night when productivity has decreased
  • Take breaks with music, short youtube videos, or stretching. If surfing on Pinterest, set timer on phone
  • Go to the gym 2-3 times a week
  • Reduce the amount of dairy and grains I am consuming – perhaps reintroduce a paleo-type diet.
  • Use the Self-Control app when working on my thesis so there is no access to social media during that time.
  • Make lists to help make tasks more manageable
  • Have a bit of a social life (if possible)
  • Meditate 2 times a day

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Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Do you love spinach dip?

Do you love portobello mushrooms?

Well worlds collided tonight when I made some stuffed mushrooms. A few years ago, one of the local restaurants used to serve them as appetizers and it was my favourite thing to split with my mom but they have taken them off the menu. While grocery shopping the other day, I bought a 4-pack of portobello mushrooms and thought that maybe I would try to replicate them.

 

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 10 oz of frozen spinach (I bought the packaged stuff)
  • 3/4 tsp of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 250g package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Here’s what I did:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preset the oven to 375.
  2. Remove the stems and gills from the portobello mushrooms. Drizzle olive oil on the mushrooms. Place on the baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Cook the frozen spinach according to the directions on the package, drain excess water, and set aside.
  4. Combine all the cheeses together (except for the mozzarella) with the garlic powder and cayenne pepper and add the spinach.
  5. Stuff the mushrooms with the spinach dip and sprinkle each mushroom with mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

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These recipes were used as a guide in the creation of my mushrooms:

Mid-Month Checkup: March Goals

Here we are at another Monday. January seemed to drag on so slowly and now here we are more half-way through March.

Let’s reflect on how my March Focus goals have been doing so far:

Focus on my work and school work:

  • I downloaded an app called HabitBull to track my good habits. I love it because I’m very data driven and it creates graphs based on your performance!
  • I’ve started breaking down more of my tasks into smaller parts to make them easier to complete. I have completed quite a bit of work on my dissertation so far because I’m made it seem more manageable.
  • I have tried to take on more of an active role at work while also trying not to spread myself too thin. I know when to say no and how to prioritize things a little better.
  • To keep myself engaged in what I’m doing, when I do work at home (school or otherwise), I set a timer for about 30-45 minutes. I work on one task for that time, take a break, and then switch gears to something else. It seems to be working so far.

Focus on my health:

  • Well, if you asked me how my immune system is doing, I’d say not great. But judging by the last three months, I’ve started seeing a pattern of when I start getting sick: the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. In the past few days, I’ve started taking supplements daily to help kick my immune system and overall health into gear: probiotics, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, and a multivitamin.
  • I got a gym membership at a new gym this month and have been twice already and have created a fitness journal and written down workout ideas. I am hoping to start going 2-3 times a week (perhaps more).
  • I started stretching every morning!
  • My skin care routine is great! Feels like a normal part of my morning and evening and it feels so soft.
  • I have written in my Five Minute Journal every day this month so far! Haven’t missed a day. It has been a great, positive way to start and end the day and it has become more of a habit than it was in the past.
  • My anxiety has been up and down this month with a few more down times than I was expecting. Meditating and remembering to stay grounded has helped and I have been looking up other strategies to get through tough moments of panic.

Focus on my relationships with others:

  • I have taken more of an active effort in my friendships – spending more time answering texts, talking to them on the phone, and making plans to see them.
  • I continue to reflect on these friendships and welcome new ones into my life.
  • I am appreciating times with my mom more. She has always been my best friend and my number one support system in my life and as I grow up, I want to return the favour and support her in any way that I can.
  • During this incredibly busy time of year, my boyfriend and I despite distance and responsibilities manage to appreciate the time we do get to talk and spend together even if it’s working on things together, sharing things about our day at the end of the day on the phone, and support one another with all that we do and I am so grateful to have him in my life in such a positive and loving way.

I still have some work to do this month in each of these three aspects, but there is still time to “focus” on them.

Happy Monday, everyone and have a great week!

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Making a List & Checking it Twice

It’s Wellness Wednesday of March Break! I am working today so not entirely a break but it isn’t so bad when you love what you do.

To help break down all the thoughts in my head and all the things I feel like I have to do, I like to make lists: grocery lists, to-do lists, pros/cons lists, and lists about lists. I contain most of them in a notebook purely dedicated for making lists.

This is what the first page of my lists book looks like:

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There are several benefits for list making.

  1. For one, it reduces anxiety. I find that getting things out of my head and onto paper makes me feel almost instantly better.
  2. It holds you accountable. Just like I decided to post every day about my Whole 30 journey to hold me accountable, writing down your task and goals allows you to be accountable to yourself.
  3. It helps you organize your thoughts in one place. It reduces clutter and I like to break my big thoughts and tasks into smaller subsequent parts.
  4. …which leads me to this point: it feels damn good crossing something off your list. You get feelings of higher productivity and higher self-esteem.
  5. Lists help keep your priorities in check. Today I made a list of all the things I have to do from sorting my laundry and cleaning my room and writing my dissertation. Having it written down allows you to see them all and figure out what should be done first, and create strategies for getting them done.

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I have two to do lists on the go right now. There is one with ~50 things on it that I need to get done (a larger list). I have another that I like in my agenda that is on the side that I fill out weekly, which is more short term goals.

Here is a link to an interesting article I read entitled “How Making Lists Can Quell Anxiety and Breed Creativity” by Carrie Barron, M.D.

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

“Every day’s to-do list.
1.) Listen
2.) Trust
3.) Do”
― A.D. Posey

Self-Care for the Soul

Happy Monday! Another week and this week is March Break. While I still have to work for a few of the days of the week, I am dedicating a lot of this week for working on my March goals. This past weekend, I got quite a bit of work done on my dissertation and made plans to see friends throughout the week.

Today, I am practicing some self-care with two of my best friends and we are going to a day spa to relax and have some well-deserved “me” time.

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Here are some of the benefits of having some “me” time and going to a spa:

  1. If you go with friends, it’s a great place to catch up and be in the presence of other people while also being away from the hustle and bustle of life.
  2. Stress relief. Life is busy. Why not do something different from your typical routine and take a break from your busy schedule and go to a spa?
  3. Increase your serotonin and dopamine levels. As someone who has has chemical imbalances in these areas from time to time with anxiety, studies show that massages release these chemicals having positive effects on stress relief.
  4. Detox. Massages, facials, the whole deal – they all have detoxification effect on the body helping lymph nodes release toxins.

 

Whatever you choose to do today, be sure to practice at least one thing for self-care. Happy Motivational Monday!

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Chicken Fajitas

One of my favourite things to do when I get to see my boyfriend is cook together. He has been so supportive with all of my goals, especially those for a healthier lifestyle. The past few times we’ve spent the weekend together we’ve made an active effort to cook at least one of our meals and have it be a healthier option.

This weekend, we made chicken fajitas from scratch since we wanted something easy and relatively quick to make.

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 6-8 white mushrooms
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • half a head of romaine lettuce
  • flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hot sauce

What We Did

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using one of those slap-chop type things, we diced the onion, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, and the mushrooms, setting aside the mushrooms and onions, and putting the peppers on the pan.
  3. Cut the chicken into strips and lay onto the pan.
  4. We made our own fajita seasoning. After Whole 30, I have loved making my own seasonings and dressings so we made this fajita seasoning:
    • 1 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp oregano
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne optional
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. Sprinkle the fajita seasoning onto the chicken and peppers and add the minced garlic all over the chicken and peppers.
  6. Put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes (until chicken is cooked through)
  7. In a large skillet, add some olive oil (~1 tbsp? I didn’t measure this out). Once the pan is heated, add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook until onions translucent and mushrooms cooked.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and add the contents to the skillet mixing everything together.
  9. Serve in tortillas with shredded lettuce, hot sauce, and shredded cheese, if desired.

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Daily Affirmations

Happy Wellness Wednesday or Well-being Wednesday! (reader’s preference)

We made it to hump day. How are you feeling?

I feel pretty good, considering this week feels like it is moving very slowly, it has been a good week so far.

A (Mid)Week in Review

This week, I have already started to make a few changes to my morning and evening routines:

  • I have reduced the amount of screen time when I wake up and before bed.
  • I have started using skin care products in the morning and evening and have been much better about remembering to take off my makeup at night
  • I have started meditating in both the morning when I wake up (~5 minutes) and before bed (~30 minutes…but I usually fall asleep partway through)
  • I keep a water bottle beside my bed so I can have some water in the morning before my morning coffee or tea
  • I am keeping up with my Five Minute Journal more. Starting the day off with gratitude is very pleasant!
  • I am trying to read a bit before bed each night while I “unplug.” I always complain I don’t have time to read. So I am making the time!

Other Victories So Far This Week: 

  • I tried vegan cheese…and loved it! (Nuts for Cheese is the company. They’re based in London, ON.)
  • Fell in love with Farm Boy (again)
  • Made plans with friends I haven’t seen in a while
  • I have read and made notes on several articles for my dissertation
  • I got a gym membership for a place much closer to my house with several locations around the world! They offer yoga and Pound! classes and I am so excited to try them out!
  • I created a Daily Affirmations jar

What are Daily Affirmations?

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As stated in the Five Minute Journal, daily affirmations are statements of what you want in your life. Every time you write or say these statements, you are priming your brain and yourself to start believing these beliefs. If you get the Five Minute Journal, they include information about a psychological study that also goes into the logic behind daily affirmations but if you want more quick information, here’s a link with some examples: https://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/instagram-positive-affirmations/

What is MY Daily Affirmation?

The one I write in my journal every day is a combination of two of the examples in the Five Minute Journal. Honestly, I found it difficult in the moment to come up with my own even though a quick Google search would’ve helped at the time.

This is my daily affirmation:

I am comfortable in my own skin and I live with passion and purpose.

I made a jar with 21 other affirmations and I will read one each day in addition to increase more positive vibes and using the Law of Attraction.

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March in Like a Lion

Today is the first Monday of a new month March. Can you almost smell spring in the air? Other than the large heaping of snow we received on Friday, I can feel spring coming and I am nothing but excited.

I am looking forward to floral prints, sunny rays, spring flowers, rain boots, and driving around with the windows down.

This month, I have set my intention as Focus. I will Focus on the following three key areas:

  1. Focus on my work and schoolwork.
    For those who don’t know, I am currently completing my Master’s degree and am in the writing process of my dissertation. To make this task a little more tolerable, this weekend, I broke down what I need to do into smaller steps and will push myself to put my best efforts into my work and get it done quickly and efficiently. IMG_1662.GIF
  2.  Focus on my health.
    February was a rough month for me health-wise. I had that stomach bug at the end of Whole 30 and soon after, I caught the flu and am only now feeling better from it. With being sick, however, my healthy eating habits slipped a bit. I ate unhealthy food and justified it because I was sick – a habit I thought I was doing a good job breaking during Whole 30. Well this month, I’m already back to meal prepping and sticking to an overall paleo lifestyle (with a few exceptions here and there).  Tonight I prepped lasagna stuffed chicken with asparagus for the week. IMG_1732.JPG
  3. Focus on my relationships with others
    I have found myself to be distant from some of the people in my life. Not because I don’t want to spend time with them but because I have been busy, sick, and have spent a lot of time dedicating quality time for myself – something I have failed to do in the past few years. Over the next few weeks, with March Break coming up and Easter at the end of the month, I am hoping to spend more time catching up with friends and family as they too are a priority in my life. I am also going to reflect on how relationships in my life make me feel – am I growing as a person with this person in my life? What do they bring to my life? What do I bring to theirs?

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Happy March and Happy Motivation Monday! I hope you start March off like a fierce and powerful lion!