Friday, November 22, 2013

Unwanted Superpowers: Enter "Anxiety Girl!"

Hey Slayers, Simone here.

After 2 weeks of fighting off a sinus infection and a separate ear infection, I'm finally starting to feel better -- I can breathe and (almost) hear again! -- but all is still not harmonious in my world. I've been letting the insecure, impatient voice in my head (non-affectionately referred to as "Anxiety Girl") hold a little too much sway lately, and it's been challenging to keep a positive, can-do attitude.

by Natalie Dee

I don't know about my fellow nerds out there, but I spend a lot of time in my head, and I tend to over-analyze things endlessly. I like to fret about the future, set wild expectations, worry about plans, and then wallow in disappointment when they don't happen the way I hoped. My mom is a yoga teacher and I grew up with some great exposure to the concepts of mindfulness and the importance of being in the moment -- but I'm a young-20s Internet addict, and the only time I've been "in the moment" lately is when I get a reply on Imgur.

Usually I'm also very "present" when I'm working out in my garage. I get to let go of all those extraneous thoughts and just be in my body for awhile. Those three nights are typically the highlight of my week. Sure, they're challenging, but I feel so accomplished, strong, and capable when I complete the workout, all sweaty and exhausted and triumphant. Unfortunately, due to my sinus infection I haven't done a full workout in two weeks, and Anxiety Girl has once again put down roots. Instead of focusing on my progress, I think about how weak my lifting is compared to my friends and my own expectations for myself. Instead of celebrating small wins, like my growing tea-collection, I've been extremely guilty about allowing my recent illness to tank my participation in the "November Nutrition" challenge that I personally orchestrated for my fellow garage crossfitters. Instead of being grateful for my new job, I'm stressing on my upcoming student loan bills and how I'll ever travel, afford a dog, or pay off my debts on my still-tight budget.

While it wouldn't hurt to relax and de-stress, I suspect I'm right where I should be for a recent college grad. (In fact, I realize that I'm awfully lucky for a recent college grad.) But I spend a lot of time daydreaming. There are places I want to travel, projects I want to do around the house/yard, four-legged canine friends I want to add to the family (or domesticated foxes, if you know where I can find one of those). . . . And the majority of my friends are 5-10 years older than me: they're all married to each other, they have houses, they take vacations, they've figured out how to stick to their budgets and pay their bills on time. I have entirely zero of those things, but it all looks very appealing. And as an impatient person who would like to create a career, turn our rented house into a home, travel, and not stress about affording silly things like food, it's tough not to compare my "just figuring it out" situation to their "established" one.

Ultimately, it will all work out. I'll get back on track with my diet. I'll gradually add some weight to my front squats. I'll figure out how to pay back my student loans and organize my budget. But the main thing I think I need to learn -- besides the ever-challenging "live in the moment" -- is that I can't expect myself to tackle everything at once. Just because I got to cross "graduation" and "stable job" off my list doesn't mean all my problems are solved. I can't expect myself to be a 100% paleo, frugal pro-weightlifter who regularly meditates, goes running, and joyfully puts the laundry away as soon as it's done. Patience, padawan.

I want to be helpful and encouraging, but I really don't have any solutions yet or advice to offer on getting through these ruts. All I know is that you do. 

Do you notice yourself feeling a bit run-down during the holidays? When you get overwhelmed or anxious, how do you handle it? 



  1. Just breathe.

    I've been suffering with generalize anxiety and panic disorder for, well over 14 year now. It started later in my teenage years and got really bad in my early/mid 20s and it wasn't until my later 20's that I started to learn ways of copping and understanding of what my body/mind were going through. First off, you're not alone I do believe it is rather normal at least I find more and more people tend to have the same thought patterns and experiences as I have. I found that talk therapy helped a bunch, even if it's just writing or talking to a friend it helps to release all of that negative energy in some form. Not to mention it's often good to have an out out of the box perspective on your thoughts, out of the box being your brain pan! Exercise is probably the best prescription for anxiety, trust me I've spend years on just about every drug they could prescribe or try to shove down my throat only to realize I didn't need those at all. I found that what I needed was understanding of what i was going through, that it was normal and okay, that there were other ways to cope aside from worrying and stressing to the point that I would want to purge or injure myself. Working out helps produce endorphin's and to circulate blood floor and it helps you feel more happy and just in control. I suggest to never look at the bigger picture as a whole, it's rather overwhelming and it will always be, just too many questions and not enough answers. I sugest breaking things down and identifying the problem and offer up some possible solutions and start there, one day at a time. Most importantly don't forget to breathe.

    1. So true! Thanks for the reminder, I needed that. You're right -- I finally got back to working out this week and WOW do I feel better. And it's amazing how calming and wonderful those deep breaths feel. :)

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