It is no wonder that no matter what we do to calm ourselves anew every morning, unsettling snippets leak in. “We have it totally under control,” the president said in January. Then in February, “One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.” In March, Trump declared “I don’t take responsibility at all.” We all knew when he said that the United States would be “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” that this was iffy.
Earlier this week, Trump invited governors to a conference call where he anticipated being thanked for all he has done. It didn’t go down as he expected. Instead, he heard how states were not getting the supplies they need as the pandemic races across the country while the president said that he had not “heard about testing in weeks.”
I am sure this makes you as anxious as it make me. It is hard to know who to trust. We definitely can rule out Trump but it still begs the question – who can we trust?
Living through the threat of a public health emergency such as COVID-19 can be extremely stressful. Dealing with the threat of COVID-19 is upsetting because it is outside the range of a normal day to day experience. You may feel anxiety, or fear for yourself and your loved ones becoming exposed to the virus. At the same time, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the constant, rapidly changing, and often conflicting information provided by our president and the media regarding the growing danger of COVID-19. While it is critical during this time to take care of your physical health, you also need to pay attention to your emotional health.
The CDC points out the stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Support yourself by:
- Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Taking care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Making time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connecting with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Not everyone responds to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for in your adult friends, children and teens include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are some suggestions from the CDC that apply to everyone:
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand. For those of you without young people in your lives, be sure you are exchanging factual information with your friends. Don’t spread rumors.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Remember that as an adult you can feel fear and disruption. Acknowledge those feelings.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand. Sometimes we hear something and all else falls away. That one terrifying thing is what we carry through the day with us. Think about the silver lining, albeit small, of focusing on things that have been neglected, closets that get organized, dogs that get walked, books read, cooking you have time for, …
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities. For adults without small children to help, we should keep our routines and “put on real pants”.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members. I tried Zoom and it isn’t as weird as it sounds. I just have to get the angle of the camera right, or sit in front of a window, as a friend suggested, and have my wrinkled visage blackened into a silhouette.
I know how hard it has been lately to focus on anything besides the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychology Today posted an article by Elizabeth Cohen that had some practical solutions to reduce stress.
Tap your feet on the ground. When anxiety overtakes us you can feel like you are floating outside of your body. You might even feel lightheaded and dizzy. These reactions are our sympathetic nervous system (biological stress responses) in action. By feeling your feet on the floor, back in the chair, and breath coming in and out of your nostrils you quickly shift from the stress response to the relaxation response. In times of crisis we need to make good decisions. The decision-making part of our brain works best when the relaxation response is activated. So, keep feeling your feet on the floor and your back in the chair. Ground yourself throughout the day.
Move the anxiety through your body (DANCE). We hold so much of our feelings in our bodies. Think of the last time you were worried about an email response you were anticipating. Feel your shoulders tense and your stomach tighten? Our body holds our stress, and the more it holds the more it aches and hurts. Since we are being overloaded with stress right now we need to move the stress through our bodies. The best way to do this is to move. Run, jump, or dance. Find your favorite song and move your hips. Shake your body and let the feelings move through.
Focus on what has not changed. Look around you right now and list 3 things that have not changed since the crisis. Are your plants still growing and needing water? Are your kids still asking you to bring them a snack? Are you still getting weather updates on your phone? Are you still brushing your teeth (I hope so)? Focus on what is staying the same. Do what you can to keep routines.
Allow yourself to feel your fear. People either feel like this is the worst thing that has ever happened or they feel like it is being blown out of proportion. You can be worried and feel fear without having to catastrophize or minimize. Allow yourself to feel some fear and concern without panicking and you will be able to make better decisions. You do not have to be anything more or less than what you are in this moment. Feel your feelings and share them with someone close to you. Don’t try to push your feelings away or they will just come out sideways.
List times when you handled the unknown. Not knowing what is going to happen and how long this crisis will last causes lots of fear in all of us. It is important to keep in mind that there have been other situations in which you felt afraid in a situation with an unknown outcome and you made it through. For example, birthing a child, graduating from school, starting a new job, learning to ride a bicycle or learning to drive a car. Write down a list of the unknown situations you handled in the past. Keep this as a reference point to your ability to handle unknown situations.
We can handle this one too!
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts. Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, they do not produce a mind-altering effect.
These small, brown seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fatty acids, including omega-3s and omega-6s. They have antioxidant effects and may reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.
Relatively few plant-based foods are complete sources of protein, making hemp seeds a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom because plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source. Hemp seeds also contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid.
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein. That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein. Hemp seeds contain almost as much protein as soybeans. In every 30 grams of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 g of protein. In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb or about 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein. The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good and better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes.
Hemp seeds also contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Hemp seeds are packed with antioxidants like fiber. Hemp seeds help the digestive system and boost daily energy. Whole hemp seeds are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, containing 20% and 80%, respectively.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut. It’s a valuable source of nutrients for beneficial digestive bacteria and may also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and may help food and waste pass through your gut. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Hemp also contains GLA, which is harder to find and prevents inflammation. GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) also helps to bind and balance the body’s hormones. The body cannot produce essential fatty acids, so the body must absorb them from the diet. They are crucial for long-term health. The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is important. In general, people tend to eat too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, but adding hemp seeds to the diet may help to promote a balance.
The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease. The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease.
Animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack. It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS.
Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause. The exact process is unknown, but the GLA in hemp seeds may regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause.
Hemp products keep skin tone even and clear and open up pores. Additionally, hemp moisturizes skin and hair and helps reduce dryness and itchiness. Hemp also promotes hair growth and prevents breakage.
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids. The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication.
How to Buy
Hulled hemp, often called hemp hearts, is the entire hemp seed with the crunchy outer shell removed. Removing the shell also makes the hemp hearts more nutritious, as it increases the overall percentage of protein and essential fatty acids.
For good edible hemp seed, Canada is known to be the best quality among countries that grow hemp. This is not only because of the taste of the hemp strain that the Canadian farmers use, but also because of the strict restrictions that the Canadian government enforces.
Canadian farmers are only allowed to use hemp seed varieties that are listed under Health Canada’s List of Approved Cultivars. All hemp seeds from Canada are non-GMO verified, which means the seeds are not genetically modified. Canadian farmers also don’t use pesticides when farming hemp. You can also look for the “Pro-Cert Organic” certifications on the brands that you buy.
Hemp manufacturers are now warning consumers to watch out for Chinese hemp that is flooding the market. Chinese hemp producers aren’t regulated as strictly as Canadian farmers. Since you won’t be able to taste the hemp until you buy a packet, make sure to check their labels to ensure the hemp is certified from Canada!
How to Store
Once open, put the package or its contents in an airtight glass container and refrigerate or freeze to extend the shelf life. Once opened, you can expect a bag of hemp seeds to last for about a year in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Cook
- Eat raw as a snack
- Mix into your smoothie
- Sprinkle on top of cereal, salads, yogurt, or even oatmeal
- Blend with water to make hemp seed milk
- Ground hemp seed to use it as a condiment
- Toasted hemp seeds can be eaten like popcorn
The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread
Adapted from My New Roots
- 1 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds – I use 50/50 of each.
- ½ cup flax seeds – I use ground sprouted flax from Sprout Revolution.
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- ½ cup hazelnuts or almonds or walnuts
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
- 1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
- 3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
- 1 ½ cups water
1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 35-45 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!
I like this bread so much that I always make two loafs!