If you could hold degrees in worrying, I would already have a Masters and PhD. I’m an expert and scholar in worrying; I worry when I’m out of coffee, and I worry when I’ve had too much coffee. There are just so many things you could worry about! Bills, homework, deadlines, friendships, relationships, family, your career, the weather, what you’re going to do for New Year’s, who Leonardo DiCaprio is going to marry or whether you’re even going to survive the remainder of 2013. If you’re like me, then we both need to chill out. 2014 is going to be The Year of No Worries, okay? Unsure if you fit the bill for extreme worrier? Take a look and see if any of these tell-tale signs resonate with you.
1. You find yourself about to burst into tears at least twice a day.
Sometimes, it happens in your car while you’re stuck in traffic and all of the radio stations are playing crappy music. Or you’re in the break room at work. The worst is when you’re in your own bed and you can’t fall asleep because you are SO. FREAKED. OUT. Been there, done that. Take deep breaths, think about the ocean or red velvet cupcakes. You are going to make it through the day and the next one is going to be so much better.
2. Your friends are annoyed with your neuroticism and your new nick name is “Woody Allen.”
I know when I’m worried, I just want to tell everyone everything, like the world is my therapist. I’ve learned that this is not such a good idea, because no matter how awesome your friends are, they don’t want to hear you constantly freak out about your life. Also, they’re not trained and might give you bad advice. Find a therapist covered by your insurance and spill your beans to them.
3. You’re either eating your feelings or you realize you’ve skipped two meals.
I’ve had days where I look down at my lap and discover I have inhaled an entire package of Oreos. I’ve also had days which were so crazy that by the time I actually had time to consume food, the sun had gone down and my stomach was emptier than Lord Voldemort. Both of these scenarios are not healthy and if you are finding yourself battling with meals, you may be a victim of stress and worry. If your life is hectic, be sure to have easy snacks like granola bars on hand. Fill your fridge with healthy food so you don’t come home to a very alluring box of mac ‘n cheese.
4. You re-play everything in your head like, 30 times.
After an important conversation with my boss or an angry student, I tend to wonder if I said the right thing. I wonder all day long and it turns into a terrible obsession I can’t let go of until I either have a few cocktails or my fiancée tells me I need to move on with my life. It’s true. You can’t go back and change things, but you also have to have faith in yourself, too.
5. You check your e-mail or phone more than ten times a day.
Whether you’re waiting on an RSVP, a text from a guy or girl you like, an acceptance letter from a magazine or school, you need to step away from the screen and be patient. All good things take time. There is no use at all in worrying about them and you’re not going to will things to happen by refreshing the screen.
6. Your blood pressure is so high, a doctor can tell from a mile away.
When you go to the doctor, pay attention to your vitals. If you’re worrying too much, your body will show it. Headaches, stomachaches, and ulcers are just some side effects of ultra-worrying. Counteract this with yoga or brisk walks. Exercise is one of the best ways to relax and treat your body to some endorphins.
7. You haven’t read or watched something fun in ages.
During the school year, my reading list is strictly texts from my syllabi, so I never have time to read all my trashy magazines or Gillian Flynn collection. In fact, I’m so worried about finishing all of my academic reading, that I don’t even have to time to catch up on last season’s True Blood. I’m not saying you should drop all of your duties and have a Netflix marathon, but you do need to make some time for you.
8. You assume the worst.
Do you constantly say things like, “This sucks!” or “This would happen to me!”? Hey, I hear you. Life does suck sometimes and some weeks feel like the absolute end of the world. But it’s not. Life goes on, and it’s up to you to make the best of it. That’s totally cheesy, I know, but if things aren’t going your way, then make them go your way.
9. It’s been so long since you’ve had a full night’s sleep that you look like someone punched you in the face.
Do you have baggy eyes because you spend all night worrying? Do you interrupt sheep-counting with, “Sh*t, did I return that library book? Did I forget to call my grandma again? What if she dies tomorrow? Did I e-mail that one person? What if my e-mail didn’t go through?” It’s like this vicious build-up of everything that could go wrong and it’s not permitting you to go to sleep because why not. If this is you, you need to get up for awhile. Drink a glass of water. Read a book that is kind of boring, and then try to fall asleep again.
10. You need alcohol to really unwind.
I’m not talking about a drink or two on the weekend; I’m talking shots of vodka or a bottle of wine every night. Okay a) that’s just bad for you, and b) there are better ways to calm down. Yogi has this stress relief tea called “Kava”. If you’re feeling extra stressed or worried, soak two bags with some honey, light a candle, and do something that makes you happy. Read or write in a journal.
The bottom line is that it’s okay to worry. In fact, the opposite of worrying is complete apathy and that’s not okay either. When I’m freaking out and overanalyzing an e-mail I just sent, I like to remind myself that whatever happens, happens. We only have control to a certain extent. You can do your absolute best and still fail. That’s life. Here’s the last piece of advice I’ll give you: If you feel particularly stressed, give yourself ten minutes to freak out. Call a friend, write down all of your worries, blog about it, whatever. And then when that timer goes off, you’re going to go and get sh*t done. You’re going to confront your fears and conquer them like the warrior you are.