Let's Talk About Anxiety: Sara Zaytsoff
Everyone gets anxious, so why does talking about it feel so icky sometimes?
Anxiety is apparently the most common mental disorder in the world according to the World Health Organization, but then, that right there might explain why talking about it is so stigmatized. After all, who really wants to admit they’ve got a mental disorder to their bosses, coworkers, clients, or even friends and family? Those words haven’t historically opened many doors or brimmed with positive connotations.
But, we’re on a mission to change that, because all of this internalizing and individualizing is clearly not helping. Our Let’s Talk About Anxiety series is all about sharing anxious encounters and pushing the conversation into the open so we can problem solve together and take back that power anxiety holds over us when we feel alone.
For the next three weeks we’ll be sharing stories and discussing anxiety. Unabashed and unfiltered. So read what others have to share and join in on the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so we can create a living document that shows just how powerful working together can be in the fight against anxiety.
INTRODUCING: SARA ZAYTSOFF
Sara Zaytsoff is a registered kinesiologist, exercise physiologist, and the founder of @mintclubathletics, which does very cool things for young female identifying athletes through their strength and conditioning programs.
She is always looking for better ways to support the women she works with in their personal growth and provides a fun, inclusive community for them. Having experienced anxiety herself most of her life, Sara recognizes that stifling your feelings is not just unproductive, it’s unhealthy and that’s why she’s created a business that encourages young women to do just the opposite.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE YOU WERE, OR HAD BEEN EXPERIENCING ANXIETY?
I think I’ve always known. When I was younger, I wasn’t as introspective, but I always felt stressed/judged/nervous. As an adult, I began to go through monthly cycles where I became so aware of my pain, nervousness, & negative inner dialogue. It impacted my work and my GI health. I remember going to the doctor, sobbing uncontrollably because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. After chatting with her and a psychiatrist, I realized it all had been stemming from my anxiety.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU REALIZED IT?
I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else. I needed validation for the way I was feeling. I grew up being told to always “put a smile on” “be a good girl” “don’t be sad” “don’t cry”. Growing up, my feelings were never validated, I always felt like I had to put on a show.
HOW DOES ANXIETY MANIFEST OR FEEL FOR YOU?
Anxiety feels like every single person on the earth hates me, or is judging me. My GI tract aches, my heart pounds, & I feel sad. My mind races with every possible worst-case scenario.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR WORK OR BUSINESS?
I’m very grateful to have the schedule I do. Before, when I was working almost 60 hours a week, I would barely be able to function. I would struggle through without feeling any sense of accomplishment or happiness. From 6:00 am-9:00 pm I was “on” and I didn’t allow myself to feel.
Presently, I am able to ease into my days, be far more selective with whom and what I put my energy into, but I definitely still get anxious. Because my heart is poured into my business, a completely original idea that came from my brain, I feel like I’m judged constantly. I feel like I don’t “fit in” to society with my business model, or with my way of thinking. I wouldn’t want to conform to traditional fitness/health & wellness practices, but I’m also terrified sometimes of standing completely alone out in left field.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU EXPERIENCE IT?
Every few days.
DOES IT INCREASE AT CERTAIN TIMES OR WITH CERTAIN EVENTS?
I’m triggered when I receive criticism on my work, on my way of running my business, & when I don’t feel like I’m living up to my own expectations of myself (perfect partner, business owner, always “fit” etc.) My family drama is also a trigger.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND HELPS YOU?
Exercise, consulting a list of things that bring me joy, resting, & meditation.
DOES ANXIETY HAVE ANY CONSTRUCTIVE OR POSITIVE SIDES FOR YOU?
At times I can use my anxiety to my advantage. I’ll become really fixated on a project for Mint, and I’ll push through to get it done ASAP. My anxiety gives me that sense of urgency (definitely more fight vs. flight mentality).
HOW DO YOU FEEL AFFECTED BY MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media, to be honest. It’s a great tool for marketing, and I love connecting with the youth through it. But to constantly be “on”, engaged, & posting, it’s exhausting.
If I didn’t have a business, I wouldn’t be on it. It stresses me out and makes me feel anxious when I haven’t posted on my story or page. That literally wasn’t even a problem when I was a teenager, what has happened! I feel like social media/society is putting soooo much emphasis on followership as a validation of worthiness ie. if you don’t have over 10,000 you’re a nobody.
It’s the constant battle for likes & engagement & followers etc. it becomes your other part-time job. Cute GIFS but all the bad feels sometimes.
IF YOU COULD BRING ONE THING TO LIGHT ABOUT ANXIETY, WOULD WOULD THAT BE?
People who live with anxiety are not choosing to do so. Believe me, I would absolutely love to wake up every morning with a positive mindset, do a headstand, yoga, meditation or whatever and feel a shift inside. A lot of the time, it just sits there inside me, forcing my mind to race, making me question every single thing I've ever done. Of course, there are valuable tools that help at times, & can provide some relief, but inevitably it’s still there. Just be as supportive as you can, lend a listening ear, & don’t try to fix the person. Just listen :)