Like it or not, stress is a part of life. It’s unavoidable, it’s everywhere, and it totally sucks. While it’s normal to be stressed about big-picture stuff like money, jobs, and the future, stressing too much (especially over the little things) can wreak havoc on our brains, bodies, and emotional well-being.
You can try to manage your stress by squeezing a stress ball or lighting up some incense or a candle when you’re really freaking out, but more long-term management methods can include meditating, exercising, eating better, getting more sleep, or just taking some time for yourself. If you’re finding that your everyday worries are taking over your life, though, it may be time to visit a professional to get that stress off your chest. All those people you see who look so calm, cool, and collected didn’t get there without some sort of help, so you don’t have to feel like you’re alone in the battle of the worrywarts. You may be naturally more high-strung or anxious, which makes it feel like your brain just won’t shut up when it comes to stress, but we’ve all been there – or are there. Just remember that old 80s song: don’t worry, be happy.
13 Your Job/Career
We spend so much of our time racking up items of experience, degrees of education, and extra-curriculars to add to our resume in order to obtain our dream job, and then when we finally get it, sometimes the stress of the search doesn’t go away.
Our parents and generations before them are used to the idea of settling into a job for the long haul, saving money, and eventually retiring. Unfortunately for us, things aren’t so linear. Instead, maybe you’ll jump from job to job for a bit before finding one that fits you. Or, maybe you might want to find a place that makes you feel happy and fulfilled rather than financially rich – and that’s okay! If you’re working full-time, you’re spending at least 40 hours a week there, so you should probably enjoy yourself at least a little! If you quit, or get laid off, or get fired, know it’s not the end of the world and you might just find the answer to your worries around the corner.
12 Your Friends
Worrying about your friends can fall into two schools of thought: 1) Worrying about their well-being and 2) worrying if they’re the right people with whom you should be hanging around.
About the first thing, it’s natural and normal to worry about the people you love. To be a good friend, you genuinely care about what’s going on in their lives, how they’re doing, and how they’re feeling. You worry about if you’re spending enough time with them or if you’re letting your friendship fall by the wayside. Hey – totally okay. As we grow up, we have busy lives, we have obligations and responsibilities, we have a lot going on. If your friendship is as solid as you think it is, you’ll both be there for each other in between and when things calm down.
About the second thing, if your friends are getting you into trouble or making you question your awesomeness, dump ‘em. You’re a strong, confident woman, you don’t have time for that BS!
11 Your Future
Similar to worrying about your job, every girl worries about her future. Do you want kids? If so, how many? Do you want to get married? Should you put a deadline on that? Do you want to buy a house or not be tied down to a property? Do you stay in your chosen career or do you pursue a passion? Do you travel? When and where? Do you have the money?
The future is a totally nebulous thing, and stressing about how it’s going to turn out can be more of a headache than you need. I’m not saying to never think about these things, to never save for what you want in life, but maybe cut yourself a bit of slack. We’re all under the assumption that once we become adults, we have all the answers, but the truth is we’re all just trying our best and faking it till we make it.
10 Your Money
This is something pretty much everyone worries about, regardless of gender or age (except maybe very young children – enjoy it, kids!). Money makes the world go round, and that can really suck when you’re struggling with debt and bills and a low-paying job. The economy is slowly coming out of the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you’re not stressing about going out for an expensive coffee versus making one at home, or saving your pennies instead of blowing them on something you don’t really need.
Look, I know the idea of a budget is boring, but it’s pretty much a necessary evil, especially if you’re looking into buying a car, house, or something else major. Saving money is equally crappy, especially when compared to the instant gratification you get when you buy something you really want. Take baby steps, save your change instead of spending it, look into what your bank can do, stop racking up that credit card debt, and you might be surprised that doing it helps chip away at that stupid money stress.
9 Your Appearance
It’s an unfortunate reality that we worry about how we look. You can be the most well-adjusted, intelligent, and confident woman and you can still worry about the size of your thighs or the way you do your hair. What really sucks is how much we let this worry dictate our lives and our moods. With the body positivity movement happening (thank the lord!), we need to spend more time pointing out what we like about ourselves rather than our perceived flaws. Love your nose? Remind yourself of that when you look in the mirror every morning! Think your boobs are beautiful? Show those babies some love!
It sounds easy, but this worry is something that takes a lot of time to soothe and may not ever fully go away. But you are more than how you look, and you are more than your clothing size (which is different in different stores usually, so don’t reduce yourself to a number). Work out a bit, eat healthy, cheat a little, and just marvel at all the incredible things your body can do!
8 Your Love Life
If money makes the world go round, sex is a pretty close second. As a girl, worrying about your sex life is totally normal. If you’re single, you’re wondering if you’re having enough sex or too much. Are you promiscuous or just figuring things out? How many partners is too many? How many is too few? If you’re in a relationship, you might wonder if your sex life is as hot as it was when you first got together, if this person is the last person you’ll ever have sex with, and if you’re missing out on some great sex somewhere else. For either situation, you might stress about not being adventurous enough or being so adventurous that it freaks your partner out. Let me tell you something: when it comes to sex, figure out what you like and what works, take care of yourself, and be safe. STIs and pregnancy are valid worries, but the other stuff, not so much.
7 Your Talent/Ability
When we were kids, we were told we were the best, or praised for giving something a try even if we weren’t very good at it. Now, it’s a whole different story. In the adult world, we’re not always the best at everything; sometimes, we’re not even good at it, or downright awful. Instead of getting pats on the back for effort, we’re reassigned to different projects or told that the things we are good at aren’t useful or marketable. It can leave you doubting yourself and what you can accomplish, which is a total bummer and morale crusher.
How about instead of trying to be the best and giving up when we feel that we fall short, we just keep trying because we genuinely like it? Just because you may not be the next Van Gogh doesn’t mean you should stop painting. Do what you love and just enjoy it.
6 Your Choices
If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in any sort of rut (relationship, job, living situation, etc.), chances are you’ll go on a painful review of all your life choices (probably late at night, probably when you can’t sleep). You’ll wonder if you should’ve taken more chances, put off school to travel the world, stuck with your ex or dumped him sooner, chosen a different job or college – the possibilities are endless. It’s normal to consider all of the “what ifs” in life, and doing so might make you question the decisions you made that brought you to where you are now.
Stressing about your life choices (both bad and good) is totally futile, though, because you’re worrying about hypothetical situations. Maybe certain things would happen differently, or maybe you’d end up exactly where you are, but who’s to say? Instead of worrying about what could’ve been or should’ve been, spend your time moving forward, because that’s the way you’re headed.
5 Your Living Situation
Your 20s are a period of transition, and that includes literally transitioning from one place to another. Your living situation is often a direct result of your circumstances, which is why it can be hugely stressful. If you’re living with roommates, you might stress about finally growing up and moving out of a party environment (and if you’re ready for that). If you’re living with your parents, you might worry about freedom, how you’ll manage to do all the boring, day-to-day stuff on your own, and paying for necessities once you move out. If you’re with a significant other, you might stress about how your relationship will be impacted over the shared personal space. Living on your own? Maybe you’re stressed about not doing enough or being social enough.
Doesn’t sound like there’s any right answer, is there?
Look, there’s no right living situation, it’s really about what works for you at that time in your life.
4 Your Relationship
When you’re in your 20s, worrying about your relationship (or relationship status) is pretty much a given. You wonder if the person you’re currently with is The One; you wonder if you should be looking for The One at this point in your life; you wonder if the person you’re with is really in love with you and if you’re really in love with them. You probably compare yourself to your friends’ relationships (or at least to those you see on Facebook and Instagram). Should you be in marriage mode or planning for kids? Are you late to the moving in together party? Are you going too fast or too slow?
The truth is that there is no perfect relationship and no perfect relationship timeline. If you’re feeling the pressure to take certain steps or reach certain milestones, chances are you’re not ready. Just take your time and enjoy yourself.
3 Your Health
Being a girl is awesome in so many ways (Clothes! Makeup! Boobs!), but it sucks in a lot of others (Periods. Breast Cancer. Cramps.)
Worrying about your health goes beyond stressing over eating right instead of eating McDonald’s again – it means worrying about your fertility, your sleep schedule, your mental health, your exercise routine, and your probability of getting sick in your girly parts. So go to your damn doctor because your parents aren’t making your appointments anymore, visit your gyno and dentist, and if you need someone to talk to who can give you a professional opinion, set aside some time to see a therapist. These things don’t make you weak or needy, they make you a happy, healthy, and a fully-functional human. Bodies and brains are complicated and they all deserve your attention, but instead of stressing out over nothing, go see someone who can confirm that it really is nothing.
2 Your Parents
It’s a fact of life that as we grow up, we move away from home and maybe from our family. Maybe it’s geographically or maybe it’s emotionally, maybe it’s both. It’s a part of life as we gain our independence that we shift our focus a little away from our parents to form our own families, with children or SOs or friends.
I can’t be the only one who’s had texts and phone calls from her parents reminding her to call because they “miss the sound of my voice”, and I know I’m not the only one to feel crazy guilty every time they say that. It’s totally normal to stress about your family and if you’re giving them enough of your time. This is especially true if you’ve been living away from them for some time. If you’re looking for a way to deal with this, I don’t have much for you, except maybe schedule calls with them on the regular, and drop by when you can. They’re not smothering, they just love you.
1 Your Safety
If the recent political controversy in the US has done anything, it has underscored the scary reality so many women face in terms of their own safety. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are terrifying things that girls face pretty much every day, which is as infuriating as it is saddening. As a girl, we worry about walking home late at night, attending a party without friends, drinking too much, leaving drinks unattended, travelling alone, wearing certain clothes, being followed – you name it. It’s why we use our keys to defend ourselves or keep our phones open at all times. The frustrating fact that so many assaults go unreported (and even fewer are prosecuted) makes your safety an obvious source of stress.
The biological fight-or-flight response we get in situations where our safety is compromised is proof that this item of worry is totally natural, even though it really, really sucks.