Meta-Anxiety: What It's Like Being Anxious About Being Anxious

Meta-Anxiety: What It's Like Being Anxious About Being Anxious

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Anxiety disorders affect over 18% of American adults. This means that you or someone in your immediate family is likely to have anxiety or to develop it when he or she gets older. In this sense, anxiety is not something to take lightly, nor is it something to joke about. But those of us who suffer from anxiety - be it an actual disorder or frequent anxious episodes - know that anxiety can be downright laughable. If you have anxious tendencies, you've probably caught yourself getting worked up over otherwise "normal" situations.

I've personally gotten anxious over not getting to brunch on time, being without a pen or pencil, and navigating family dinners. Friends, family and peers have all had to steer my thoughts in another direction.

"Why are you so worked up?" "It's nothing to be nervous about." "Relax!"

I hear these things all the time. Now, if those of you who utter these words were in my head, you would understand that it's just more complex than that. You see, I'm not nervous about not having a pen. I'm nervous about the implications of being without one. Am I not prepared as a student? Am I unintelligent? Am I really so unprepared for life that I forget to have a pen with me? And you see, even when I'm not anxious about these things, I find myself in a circle of meta-anxiety.

Meta-anxiety doesn't actually exist in any dictionary or DSM that I've heard. To me, it's a concept I'm extremely familiar with but may have to explain to others who don't know. Meta-anxiety is the idea that when I'm not anxious, I become anxious over my lack of anxiety. Or, when I'm anxious, I get anxious that no one else is anxious. It sounds crazy, but let me break it down. Say I have a test coming up. I've read over notes, made flash cards, tested myself, and really have a firm grasp of the information I'm going to be tested on. I find myself feeling prepared and settled for the coming exam. And then, I hear my classmates completely frazzled over the test. They claim to have spent hours in the library, never really attaining any sense of the information that we're going to be tested on.

Here comes the problem. I begin to get anxious over how I'm not anxious.

"Everyone else is freaking out. I'm not freaking out. I should be freaking out."

Maybe this still doesn't make sense, but it's a phenomenon I face all too often. Maybe it's my personality. Maybe it's the fact that I go to an extremely competitive school where having anxiety and being unhealthfully stressed is the norm. At Penn, if you're not stressed, you're not doing it right. Tons of us cope with these anxieties in a variety of different ways. Most of us just keep working, easing our anxiety, only to have it return the next day when we realize we have another assignment coming up.

The best advice I can give to someone facing anxiety (or even "meta-anxiety") is to reevaluate your fears such that you recognize them as irrational and insignificant. When I find myself becoming anxious over my lack of anxiety, I remind myself that this is simply ridiculous and that I'm really just prepared for a test that other students only began studying for hours before the exam.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Give Yoga A Chance, One Namaste At A Time

Flowing through into something new.
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OK, hear me out. I believe that everyone should give yoga a chance. Yoga is a full mind and body workout that allows you to do things you didn't know you were capable of.

There might be the stereotype that it's just glorified stretching but anyone who has done yoga knows this is not true. There are so many different types of yoga. You just need to find the one that works for you.

Yoga might seem like a foreign language once you start looking for a class. Odds are you don't know the differences between Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, or Restorative yoga. But no worries! The yoga community is very welcoming to newcomers and will help you reach your goals. Unlike typical workouts, it's not a competition. Just you, your mat, and the instructor's voice. Everyone's concern is their own workout and bettering themselves.

Like all working out, yoga is self-motivated. The saying "you get out what you put in" is very true when it comes to yoga. You will more than likely hear you instructor talking about your practice. They are referring to what your body, mind, and effort. Whatever you want to get out of yoga is what you have to put in.

Don't get me wrong, I was a skeptic at one point too. I remember walking out of my first class saying "this is a cult." Looking back now I laugh and realize I might not have been as openminded as I should have been. Once you realize the Oms and Namestes are to help you relax and clear your mind, you won't even think about it. Going into yoga with an open mind is very important because you won't have the opportunity to better yourself if you never give it a chance.

If you are interested in trying but are hesitant or don't know what classes to take do your research. There are hundreds of articles explaining what each type of yoga is and what to expect in a class. Also, you could even call your local yoga studio and see what they recommend for newcomers.

Yoga might be a mystery to you but even if it doesn't seem like something you'd enjoy just give it a try. What could it hurt, right?

Cover Image Credit: Creative Commons

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