10 Little Things We’re Doing to Feel Less Anxious

updated Mar 20, 2020
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joy of cooking, brownies
Credit: Joe Lingeman; Ariel Knutson

To say that our collective anxiety is heightened right now due to the uncertainty of the spreading coronavirus is a bit of an understatement. We’re right there with you. It’s hard to escape a cycle of bad news that gets worse by the day. To get through it, the Kitchn team is taking it one day at a time and trying to find joy in unexpected places.

For example, I’m currently quarantining in my parents’ house in the suburbs of New Jersey. One overwhelming and unexpected source of happiness is the fact that they have a toaster oven. (Bear with me here.) Because I don’t have room for this appliance in my tiny apartment kitchen in New York, I’m taking full advantage of their toaster oven while I ride out the storm. I quickly realized that this toaster oven means I can make all the tuna melts — and that makes me really happy. Watching the cheese bubble and brown over my open-faced sandwich is majorly soothing and I highly recommend you try it.

Here’s a slew of other small-but-joyful things our team is doing as we keep calm and stay home.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

1. Keep a “normal” routine at home.

“When my anxiety starts to feel heightened, I have a little checklist of things I do to feel better. In general, things like getting up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast help me a ton! The first thing on that checklist is to eat something nutritious. Doing that is a whole lot easier if we have baked sweet potatoes or oatmeal on hand for breakfast (they’re just plain soothing to me).” —Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Cook from our cookbook collections.

“I finally subscribed to Eat Your Books, which basically means I entered all my cookbooks into their system and now I can easily search through them. This is especially helpful right now, when I’m trying to cook with what I have rather than pick a recipe and then shop. For example, if I want to use up my mushrooms before they go bad, I can search “mushrooms” and it will tell me which of my cookbooks have mushroom recipes, and even what page! This process takes my mind off the pandemic for a while and leaves me with a fun cooking project, too. Plus, I love that I’m finally cooking out of my cookbooks.” — Grace Elkus, Deputy Food Director

3. Bake a tray of brownies (or anything really).

“Anxiety and me are old friends, so during these very uncertain times I’m turning to all my coping mechanisms, one of which is baking. Not to be cliché or whatever, but there’s something incredibly soothing about knowing if you add a couple ingredients together and put them in a pan, you’ll have something rich and comfy to eat. You can do it with your eyes closed, basically. These pantry brownies are so easy and satisfying. And I love that you don’t need butter (because when I made them, I didn’t have enough at the time).” —Ariel Knutson, Features Director

Credit: Amelia Rampe

4. Plan a virtual meal or host a FaceTime happy hour.

“I am naturally a very anxious person, and this week has not been so easy for me. Luckily, as with every other stressful moment in my life, my chosen family of queer friends has shown me endless love and support. Every morning we text each other, checking in and sharing our worries, frustrations, and fears. And every night we FaceTime each other, a drink in hand, trying to find an ounce of humor to brighten the uncertainty. We call it our happy hour. It’s a bright spot in this uncertain time that has reduced stress for me. Four of us, all with drinks in hand, hanging out and giving each other a virtual hug.” — Jesse Szewczyk, Studio Food Editor

5. Find funny memes.

“When I can’t take any more updates on the state of the world, I get on Reddit and look at memes. It’s weird how toilet paper jokes can make this whole thing seem a little less terrifying (for at least a few minutes).” —Kaitlin Garske, Social Media Manager

Credit: mapodile/Getty Images

6. Drink more tea.

“I’ve been drinking a lot more tea this week (peppermint and chamomile, specifically). For a short period of time, it soothes my whole body and makes me feel more calm and less worried.” —Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor

7. Make dinner at home feel like a treat.

“I’m making Mike (my husband) have dinner with me at the table tonight instead of the couch. We’re going to wear real clothes — no soft pants — and pretend like we’re at a restaurant.” —Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

8. Turn on a workout or meditation video.

“If you start to feel cooped up after many, many, many hours inside, I recommend heading to YouTube. There are countless videos to choose from to help you move your body and get some endorphins flowing — without ever having to leave your living room. I did this 10 minute-arm exercise video yesterday and used two cans of chickpeas as my weights. Whatever works, right?” —Lauren Masur, Staff Writer

9. Pick up a new hobby.

“I just started to crochet a baby blanket for my best friend who is due in June and it’s taking my mind off things and giving me something to look forward to when I give it to her months from now.” —Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Editor

10. Color (with or without kids).

“Instead of catching up on news podcasts in the morning, I’ve started coloring with my two kids at the kitchen table after we eat breakfast. They’re working on coloring pages that their teachers sent home before school closed and I’ve downloaded coloring pages from small business illustrators.—Patty Catalano, Contributing Editor

What are you doing to keep your mind off the hard things?