Is It Anxiety, Or Is It Just You?

Is It Anxiety, Or Is It Just You?

A response to "Millennials: Anxiety Might Not Be The Problem"
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Your anxiety might be less real than you think it is.

There, I said it. Now let’s have this conversation. I’ve found that’s the best function of platforms like Odyssey and opinion sections in newspapers: they start conversations.

Sometimes I’ll have an idea that I really want to write about, but can’t find the words to. The opinion that my generation is letting the term “anxiety” cripple ourselves is one of them. But sometimes, I’m lucky enough to find an article someone else wrote that does put my idea into words. Then I can add to it to keep the conversation going, and that’s really why I’m a writer in the first place.

I had been trying and failing to write an article warning Millennials not to let “anxiety” get in their way. Then last week, basically by chance, I stumbled across Monica Galarza’s great article, “Millennials: Anxiety Might Not Be The Problem.”

Galarza makes so many great points in her article, and I agree with all of them. She also starts out the article by acknowledging mental illness, anxiety disorders in particular, as very real problems that people deal with.

That is what’s made this article difficult for me to write in the past. I am a student of Psychology, and have also grown up with a family history of mental illness. From first hand experience I know how these illnesses can affect someone, and how much they, and the people they care about, can suffer because of it.

I know that there are many studies that show the existence of mental illnesses. However, there are also a fair number of studies that show the mere act of smiling can boost your mood. Don’t believe me? Here’s an article from Psychology Today: Smile: A Powerful Tool, and another one from How Stuff Works: Does Smiling Make You Happy?

While we don’t have total control over our emotions, we have more power to decide how we feel than we realize. That’s why I agree with Galarza’s argument that a certain extent of our anxiety might just be in our heads, so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying anxiety is made up. I know I have felt my fair share of anxiety. And when I do, I name it. Because for me, being able to put a label on how I’m feeling gives me power over it. I then know what it is, so I know it’s going to go away, I just have to ride it out. I know what has helped me feel calmer in the past, and I know what has helped others ride out anxiety as well. All of this helps me master the emotion so that I’m still in control and can still be productive.

I’m going to reiterate: I know this doesn’t work for everyone. People with actual anxiety disorders may need the help of medication or therapy to be able to do this. However, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, only 18.1% of the U.S. adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder.

Given, anxiety disorders do tend to show up during adolescence and young adulthood, and, because of the nature of college, college students may be slightly more prone to episodes of anxiety, but that’s still far from the entire generation of Millennials. And yet the entire generation of Millennials seems to have claimed anxiety as their own.

Like Galarza says, our generation isn’t “any more entitled to anxiety than previous generations.” I’ll admit the world is a scary place right now. I have my concerns about the Trump presidency. But the world was a scary place during the Cold War, and the Holocaust, and the Great Depression too. We don’t have it worse. In a lot of ways, thanks to the rapid advancement of technology in recent years, we have it better. We’ve solved many of the problems of the past, most notably disease and epidemics. And with the rate at which technology is moving, there’s not reason to think we won’t be able to solve the problems of the future.

“We have all the reason to feel positive towards the future, yet we don’t.” Like Galarza, I too have made this point in the past. Negativity seems to be in vogue. Galarza identifies anxiety as a “generational style” going so far as to refer to it as “such a thing.” And she’s not wrong.

Galarza states, “It might sound like a contradiction, but the fact that we have been able to diagnose anxiety as quickly, and treat it with medication/therapy is probably also what has enabled it to exist as powerfully as it does today.” Anxiety exists today, in part, because we have a name for it. But humans have always had anxiety.

Anxiety is a side effect of having the powerful brain that we do and living in the kind of society that we do. And anxiety is more prevalent today because we finally have a name for it and way of diagnosing it. But this advancement should have given us power over anxiety.

Instead, it has restored power to anxiety itself. But that’s our fault. Our generation has learned helplessness down to a tee. We always have an excuse, and we latch on to anything we can use as one.

That’s how too many people use anxiety. Meeting new people is always going to be nerve-wracking. So is pursuing your dream job, and doing anything you never have before. Experiencing anxiety in these kinds of situations is normal for everybody. So anxiety isn’t a valid excuse not to do these things.

Anxiety is a problem for some people, but it’s not a problem for everyone. So next time you want to blame something on anxiety, try making the scary change or taking the scary leap instead. It probably won’t be as scary as you thought. Excitement and nervousness are the same feeling, so next time choose excitement. It really is up to you. Give the power back to yourself.

Cover Image Credit: thepublicdiscourse.com

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Everything You Need To Know About BANG Energy Drinks

Say goodbye to your favorite pre-workout drink.
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BANG energy drinks from VPX Sports are the hottest new products for athletes everywhere. On every can, you'll find their catchphrase "Potent Brain & Body Fuel" and it gives you just that. Clean energy, laser-sharp focus, and no sugar induced crashes are just a few of the reasons these bad boys are flying off the shelves faster than retailers can keep them stocked. Haven't heard of them? Sound too good to be true? Let me answer your questions.

What is it? It's an energy drink that's kind of like your typical Red Bull or Monster. It's a perfect substitution for pre-workout supplements or coffee.

Who's it meant for? Anyone! A better question to ask is, "Who isn't this drink meant for?" On the can, you'll find a recommendation for no one under the age of 18 to consume the drink. You also may want to steer clear of it if you're sensitive to stimulants like caffeine.

What's in it? BANG energy drinks contain zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and zero sugar. But what you can find are BCAA's, CoQ10, creatine, and copious amounts of caffeine. These are things athletes often take as supplements.

What are BCAA's? BCAA's are Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are known to stimulate protein synthesis, increase muscle function, decrease your soreness after a workout, and even aid in repairing damaged muscles.

What's CoQ10? Coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria of your cells and sparks energy production. It helps produce energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. People often take this as a dietary supplement when they feel tired or lethargic.

What's super creatine? Creatine does a great job in enhancing athletic performance by aiding growth of lean body mass (AKA muscle). When you take creatine orally, the amount in your muscles increase and helps regenerate ATP more efficiently. According to the nutrition label, this so-called "super" creatine is bonded to Leucine to make Creatyl-L-Leucine. On SupplementReviews.com, a VPX Sports representative allegedly said the following about the Super Creatine in the drink:

"The creatine in there is actually something very special...it is the world's only water stable creatine. It is Creatine-Leucine peptide. Think of this...if you mix creatine in water, it sinks and if you mix leucine in water, it floats....if you combine the two into a peptide, it creates a water soluble and water-stable form of creatine. It also has a fatty acid chain that makes it easier to cross the blood brain barrier. The focus of the super creatine is not for muscle function, but for cognition...by combining this form of creatine with caffeine, it works synergistically for mental focus."

How much caffeine is in one can? In one can of BANG, you'll be blessed with 300mg of caffeine. This is the equivalent to over three cups of coffee.

Is that even safe? Yeah, it is. In order for the caffeine in the energy drink to be lethal at any capacity, I would have to drink 30.7 cans.

So, what are the downsides? There are two things that come to mind. One is that consumers have no idea how much BCAA's, CoQ10, or creatine is actually in the drink. It could very likely be trace amounts too small to do anything beneficial. Two, BANG energy drinks do not go through the FDA approval process.

Is it really that good? Well, out of 113 reviews of the product on Bodybuilding.com, there's an average 9.6 overall rating. Most reviews comment on the quality of the energy, the cognitive focus, and the non-existent crash once the drink wears off.

What kind of flavors can I get? There are currently eight BANG energy drink flavors on the market: Black Cherry Vanilla, Cotton Candy, Sour Heads, Star Blast, Blue Razz, Champagne Cola, Power Punch, and Lemon Drop.

Where can I buy BANG energy drinks? You can find BANG energy drinks at Amazon, your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe retailers, Bodybuilding.com, VPX Sports' website, some gas stations, and privately owned retailers.

How expensive are they? This depends on where you make your purchase. The cheapest place to purchase your BANG energy drinks is at Bodybuilding.com for about $2.00 per can. You can find similar prices on Amazon and at your local retailers. The energy drinks are most expensive through the VPX website where you'll pay about $2.75 per can.

How does BANG compare to other energy drinks? I'll give you some data on nutrition facts and you can make your decisions based on that:

16 oz. BANG: 300mg caffeine, 0g carbohydrates, 0g sugar.

16 oz. Monster Energy (regular): 160mg caffeine, 54g carbohydrates, 54g sugar

16 oz. Red Bull (regular): 160mg caffeine, 56g carbohydrates, 56g sugar

16 oz. Rockstar (regular): 144g caffeine, 54g carbohydrates, 54g sugar

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

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10 Changes To Make For The Sake Of Sanity

Small changes to your routine that will keep you in tune with your body and mind.

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In the age of being constantly busy and forgetting to live for ourselves, it is easy to forget about your needs. Not only does this lifestyle result in emotional (and physical) exhaustion, but it can also lead to problems down the road if you begin depriving your body and mind of basic needs.

Luckily, it is easier than you think to improve the way you go about your day. Here are 15 small changes you can make in your everyday routine that will help you become a more balanced, mindful person.

1. Create a sustainable sleep schedule.

Oh yes, I went there. Not only is it essential to make sure you're getting in 6-8 hours of sleep, but it is also important to try your best to keep your snooze time consistent. Keeping a sleep schedule allows you to get the best quality sleep that you can by keeping your circadian rhythm in check.

2. The early bird gets the worm

As painful as it sounds, waking up earlier than you might like to can actually have a positive impact on the rest of your day. By getting up a little bit earlier, even if its only an hour, you give yourself more time to complete the day's tasks. Oversleeping, though tempting, can actually negatively effect your energy levels and motivation. Nobody needs 12 hours of sleep. Get your 6-8 hours, and get on with it.

3. Breakfast, baby!

This one goes hand in hand with the last. If you get up on the early side, you have more time to eat in the morning, at an appropriate time. If you're someone who sleeps in until noon or later, you're basically waking up at lunchtime, and starting your calorie-intake later in the day than you could be. Getting up and making sure to sit down for a proper breakfast, as long as you make healthy choices, properly replenishes your body with the nutrients that you went without while you were asleep. Additionally, it kickstarts your metabolism and energy for the day and is proven to help prevent overeating later on. Skipping breakfast, regardless of whether this choice is due to a messed up sleep schedule or the idea that it might save you some calories is actually linked to weight problems. This is because skipping breakfast leaves you starving by lunchtime, causing you to eat more than you maybe need to, and potentially leading you to make food choices that aren't quite as beneficial to your body. Moral of the story: breakfast.

4. HYDRATE

I cannot stress this one enough. Hydration is one of the most essential components of your routine. When you wake up each day, have a glass of water. For even more benefits, opt for some lemon water, or caffeine-free green tea. All of this options offer your body the hydration it needs after you've been sleeping for an extended period of time. It also kickstarts your metabolism and energy, allowing you to be reading for whatever the day has in store. Especially if you're a coffee addict, making sure to drink plenty of water ensures that you won't end the day in a dehydrated state. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose fluids, and this can result in you feeling foggy. Water is a natural energy booster that also flushes toxins from your body and keeps your mind clear, and you won't be drinking your calories if that is something you worry about. Go for a glass of water in the morning and evening, as well as whenever you find yourself with a moment to spare. It is easy to neglect this important part of your day when you're loaded down with errands or work, but try to keep it a part of your routine. Set reminders for yourself if you find that you're going the majority of the day without hydrating, or use an app that sends reminders for you and lets you keep track of how much water you're taking in.

5. Practice mindfulness.

Though this might sound strange to some, mindfulness is so, so important. It doesn't have to mean you need to sit down and meditate on a yoga mat. It doesn't even mean you have to move from where you are right now. All that's truly necessary to improve mindfulness is a moment or two out of your day for you to come back to yourself and focus on being in the moment. What I mean by this is throughout the day, whenever you feel yourself going into autopilot, growing overwhelmed, or moving nonstop, take a minute, literally 60 seconds, to stop everything you're doing and focus on nothing but your breath. You owe it to yourself.

6. No thanks, negativity.

It might sound simple enough, but combatting negativity in your life can be difficult. Start small. When you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, drowning in anxious thoughts, or simply stressed, take a second to change the path of your thoughts. Instead of allowing yourself to get caught up in the "What if it goes wrong?" mentality, ask yourself "What if it goes right?". If you do this enough, you will become accustomed to examining the positive possibilities more than the hypothetical, negative ones. Getting caught up in bothersome hypothetical situations can drive anyone insane, and its a cycle that, once you break it, can be life-changing.

On another note, try to eliminate unnecessary sources of negativity from your life. Is there someone whose negativity energy of their own is bringing you down? Is something weighing on your shoulders? If so, acknowledge it and move away from it. Resolve small conflicts that, though minor, might be dragging you down more than you think. Break ties with toxic "friends" who seem to appear only when they need something, and bring a boatload of negativity with them when they do appear. These are examples of sources of negativity that you might be dealing with that are really, ultimately unnecessary. Don't allow yourself to put up with any more negativity than is absolutely necessary.

7. Take a tech break.

Especially now that so many parts of our day rely on technology, it's easy to get completely drawn in. Though technology can be extremely helpful and is beneficial in many ways, it is also important to give it a rest. If you're spending hours at a time using your phone, or laptop, or other smart devices every day, get into the habit of taking some time offline. Set a schedule for yourself if need be, and take a walk outside, for example, after every hour or two of being online. This goes especially for those whose jobs require constant online access or situations in which it is absolutely necessary to be in front of a screen. Certainly take care of your responsibilities, but also be mindful of how many consecutive hours you are spending on a device.

8. Avoid isolation.

As human beings, we naturally crave interaction with other humans. Because of this, it is important to make sure you are getting in time with friends and loved ones. Being social and spending time with people you enjoy being around is not only a mood booster, but also keeps you in a healthy place as a whole. If you get into the habit of isolating yourself, whether it is or isn't intentional, you could actually end up developing anxieties when it comes to social situations. Once this occurs, you risk falling into a downward spiral, continuing to isolate yourself and ultimately damage connections you have with others.

If you feel that these anxieties already exist, or are on their way, take small steps. Immediately forcing yourself or allowing others to force you into a social situation can be extremely triggering to someone with anxiety, so start off slow. Spend time with your closest friend, for example. Start with people you are truly comfortable, and work from there. Reach out to people you maybe haven't seen in a while, or people you'd like to see more often. Stay in this routine and eventually you might find that your fears have diminished (that is, of course, as long as these are fears that resulted from isolating yourself for an extended period of time. If you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or suspect that you do, professional assistance and advice are much more beneficial than anything I can tell you).

9. Take time for yourself.

You might start off your week with quite the to-do list, and at the top of that list, you should include some me-time. Especially when you go into productivity-mode, it is good to give yourself a break and take time to decompose and do things you enjoy. It is up to you when you want to take this time for yourself, whether it be at the beginning of a long week to prepare for what's ahead, or at the end of the week as a reward, so to speak. As long as you get in some time that is dedicated just to you, you'll find your spirits lifted.

10. Set goals.

Staying motivated helps you maintain productivity, ultimately allowing you to finish products efficiently and effectively. By setting goals and including dates for these goals, you are likely to be more driven in the process of getting there. Productivity allows you to avoid the plague of procrastination by encouraging you to get things done... and we all know how rewarding it feels when you finish something and are happy with the end result. The sooner you start a project and get the ball rolling, the easier the rest of it will be.

By and large, there are endless small and easy changes you can make that will ease you into a healthier lifestyle. Making these changes can not only raise your energy levels, but can also result in improved focus, elevated mood, and a better sense of balance between your mind and body. As minor as these steps may be, they can lead to major results.

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