How to cope when you’re a worrywart

Mr. WorryThe Hubby likes to call me a “Nervous Nelly” because I tend to be kind of high-strung. I worry too much about silly little things and get all worked up over “what if” scenarios.

I blame my Dad…Growing up, he’d always be unplugging the microwave when we weren’t using it (“It could catch fire!”), turning off our bedroom lights if we left for five minutes (“You’re wasting electricity!”), and calling us if we were 30 seconds late for curfew because he immediately started imagining us being kidnapped or who knows what. (The movie Taken was what I think he imagined would happen to us every time we left the house.)

Stress and worry is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. In middle school and high school, I used to get panic attacks around tough times like finals. (Or the college application process! Oh my gosh, that freaked me out like you wouldn’t believe.) But over the years, I’ve learned ways to deal with my worry when it starts to get overwhelming.

I may always be a worrywart by nature, I think it’s just my personality. But when the worry starts to take over, here are some of the ways I’ve learned to cope:

1. Breathing exercises

It sounds clichéd, but it totally works. If you can get away from the stressful situation, find a quiet room and sit down in a comfortable position. Then, close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. (If you can’t get away, at least sit still for a minute or two and still do the breathing part.)

Take a long breath in through your nose, focusing on how your stomach expands. (It should expand if you’re really breathing deeply. Put your hand on your stomach if that helps you focus on it.) Then, focus on letting that breath out slowly through your mouth, feeling your stomach deflate as you do it. Do this for as long as it takes to feel your breathing naturally fall into this relaxed pattern.

There are two benefits to this: One, it helps you clear your mind of everything you’ve been stressing over, and two, it calms down your body. When you’re stressed, your breathing tends to get shallow and quick, which only makes you feel more stressed. By calming down your breath, you can trick your mind into feeling calmer, too.

2. Working out

I don’t just exercise to be healthier, I do it because it’s a huge mood booster. It can help you work through your stress, relieve your frustrations, and release happiness-boosting endorphins into your system.

If you’re worked up over something really stressful and want to release some of that tension in a healthy way, try high-action activities like Zumba, running, or spin class. If you’re so worked up that action is the last thing you need, try a soothing activity like yoga to help you calm your mind and find your center.

3. Drink herbal tea

(Decaf, of course!)

I love lavender-infused tea and almond tea, both immediately calm me down. Oolong is also supposed to be good for relaxation. Do a little tea ritual like you’d do if you were practicing Zen…Take time to really enjoy the tea and focus on things like the warmth of the mug in your hands and the steam rising up to your nostrils. I’ve done my own little “tea ritual” enough times that just the act of getting out my teapot to brew some hot water makes me start to calm down.

4. Use personal mantras

I have some phrases I repeat to myself when I find myself getting all wrapped up in worry. They remind me to focus on what really matters and help me put things into perspective. Come up with a list of phrases (or visualizations) that speak to you and practice using them when you start to feel worried. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

Are you a worrywart? What are your tips?




What are you waiting for?

Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20118What would make you happy? What’s your big goal?

To get out and find that special someone? To write a book? To find a better job? To exercise more?

Whatever it is, I bet you’ve got some reasons why you’re not quite “ready” yet.

At least, I normally do whenever I’m facing a big goal.

I’ll get started when…

It can be scary to start something, especially something you’ve really built up in your mind. So we come up with reasons why we’re not quite ready yet:

…We need more experience.

…We need more time.

…We’ll start after we finish X, Y, or Z.

…We’ll read some books first and then get started.

But you’ll never really feel 100% ready, like you’ve got every single piece in place and you can know for sure that nothing will go ever wrong. Sometimes you just have to start and figure it out as you go along. Sometimes all the things you think you need to do first are just your way of avoiding the scariness of getting started.

So…what are you waiting for?





photo credit: Steven Depolo

Blog Roundup (8-16-13)

I always love sharing my favorite blogs with people, so each week I’ll be giving you guys a roundup of the posts I’ve really enjoyed reading.

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Are there any great posts you came across recently? Share them with us in the comments!

Financial Plan for a 20-Something

It's a living[This is a guest post by Sarah Wardsmit. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]


When you’re preparing for the future, it’s easy to misinterpret how drastically your present financial decisions can affect you in the long-run. Digging yourself out of financial trouble causes more than just a monetary strain; it can hinder relationships, future opportunities, long-term interest, and the ability to establish yourself. As a 20-something, take note on how you can avoid making common financial mistakes:

1. Establish Credit

Many credit card companies believe in helping younger generations receive credit in order to build credit. It’s a vital component for any 20-something who intends on eventually buying a home or car; after all, you do need to have a credit history in order to receive approval on major purchases such as these. The issue here is that you could fall victim to the mentality that, since you have a credit card, you always have money!

View your credit card as a temporary loan, not as extra income. If you’re going to be responsible enough to have a credit card, be responsible enough to only spend money you have. Avoid charging the entire balance of a larger purchase to your card. Limit yourself to one or two cards to resist the temptation to spread payments across multiple companies.

2. Purchase Health Insurance

Don’t be lulled into a sense of false security, as emergencies do happen. Having a basic health insurance plan will aid in covering the cost of expensive treatments or emergency room visits without blowing your finances out of the water. It’s important to take precautions because not being prepared for the unpredictable could destroy your credit and leave you scrambling; you’re better off safe than sorry.

3. Plan Ahead for Major Events

Owning a house, buying a car, and planning a wedding are all major events that don’t come cheap. Ensure your finances are in order before setting out to spend a fortune on any life-changing plans. The average wedding costs upwards of $26,000, which is money spent on a singular day that could otherwise be spent on a mortgage down payment, travel, or a wise investment.

Before you splurge on that ostentatiously priced dress you’re eyeing in the boutique window, browse at affordable retailers. Companies like David’s Bridal offer top designers like Zac Posen and Vera Wang at reasonable prices. Therefore, carefully budget, compare prices, and embrace DIY projects from Pinterest before digging yourself deep into debt.

4. Discuss With Your Partner

Plan out important components with your partner to make sure your budgets match and your plans collaborate. Discuss how and when you will be ready to appropriately handle large purchases. If you’re planning on starting a family or otherwise joining your accounts, being honest about your past credit and debt is essential. Finding the courage to admit to any current collection issues is hard, but having the discussion years later will only be harder.

5. Have a Rainy Day Fund

Life is fickle. Everything might seem perfect today; however, a few months down the road, a job might fall through, a breakup might leave you paying rent by yourself, and one small accident may leave you neck-deep in car bills. Rainy day funds are a must. Though more is ideal, you should have an amount that will cover at least three months’ worth of living expenses.

Always remember that your financial decisions today are the precursor to future stability. Falling into the process of good repayment habits, saving milestones, and planning in your 20s will prevent you from experiencing common financial struggles now and later.

Sarah Wardsmit is currently a graduate student, recently engaged, and living in The Big Apple. As a gal who loves to save, she buys all her clothes from consignment shops and most of her apartment furniture is DIY. One of the only things Sarah doesn’t mind splurging on is a new addition for her Bob Dylan record collection!


Photo credit:  Naiden Reed