A major part of coping with anxiety is assembling a collection of self-soothing mechanisms and tools. It’s almost like you’re Ariel from The Little Mermaid but instead of whosits and whatsits galore, you acquire a treasure trove of comforting artifacts and rituals that you can utilize whenever you feel a wave of anxiety building and ready to break inside your brain, your heart, your body. And yes, therapy, exercise, and medication are important but they don’t always work for everyone, based on a variety of factors not limited to time, money, and resources. There are countless forms that anxiety soothers can take – it can essentially be anything that helps you feel just a little bit lighter, mentally. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money to be effective.
Many people I know, including myself, food is one way to cope with anxiety. There’s clearly a reason why the phrase “comfort food” exists. As one of the greatest universal calming tools, food represents something more than what it is on the plate. For me, I find the most comfort in food when it’s being made. As an admittedly bad and clumsy cook, I find it really relaxing to watch other people make food. Like when my mom makes Sunday dinners that warm up the whole kitchen, creating condensation on the windows in the winter. Or when my boyfriend puts together a Greek salad for us after work a few times a week.
Or when I watch cooking shows, like the Great British Bake Off, which is a tried and true calming mechanism for me, especially when I am trying to fall asleep and can’t get my brain to calm down. The dulcet British accents, cozy baking tent vibes, and cheery and cute contestants all make it easier to slip into sleep. I discovered GBBO a few years ago in the middle of a few particularly anxious months and it made such a difference in my day-to-day life during that time. It will forever be a part of my anxiety-relieving treasure trove.
One of my latest additions to the myriad of things I use to help with my anxiety is a series on the Bon Appetit YouTube channel called It’s Alive with Brad. I stumbled across it only a week ago and I already have recommended it to five people. If you like cooking shows but can also appreciate mishaps and bloopers that you lose with a traditional and edited show, this series is for you. The videos star Brad Leone, BA’s test kitchen manager, as he explores “living” foods like kombucha, miso, mushrooms, oysters, honey – the list goes on and on. The other star of the series is the off-camera Vinny who actually films the series and whom Brad constantly refers to throughout the videos. Earlier episodes show Brad in the BA test kitchen creating these living foods but the series evolved to now include episodes of Brad (and Vinny of course) traveling around the United States meeting with local food makers. A recent investigation of both Brad and Vinny’s Instagrams tells me they’re in Italy so I’m already excited for the episodes to come. Overall the series is equal parts light, educational, funny, and comforting, making it a welcome addition to the anxiety relief rotation.
Here’s a few of my favorite It’s Alive videos: