Stress is killing us. Literally killing us.
According to a recent study, stressing about little issues like Starbucks discontinuing the pumpkin scone — [single basic tear runs down cheek] — or being stuck in traffic are just as harmful to our health as larger negative life events.
So while it’s easier said than done to “just chill out a bit, “ there’s never been a more important time to put the causes of this stress into perspective.
Here are six of the most common culprits and how best to regard them:
1. All of the bills you have to pay.
You’re ten months to a year and a half out of college and you didn’t realize it would be this tough.
School is like one of those fuzzy safety belt covers your aunt had in her Dodge Caravan when you were 6; you run out of cash and quite literally can’t buy food, mom comes in like a white nourishment knight and sends you a $100 gift card to Trader Joe’s.
Fast-forward a year and you’re wondering how you’re going to make rent, if Verizon will really care that much that you’re a week late on your phone payment, and if your car will still be outside every morning.
It’s overwhelming. While days provide distraction, nights aren’t as forgiving. You’re laying in bed until the wee hours contemplating the feasibility of getting a third job whilst cursing that one girl who paid off her student loans and set herself up for years by owning the mighty pole.
A) You’re not alone.
B) Yes, it’s bad now but it will get better.
C) You probably should get that third job.
Also, you’ve never been that coordinated and you really don’t need a bright pink hospital envelope on top of your existing mountain of unwanted reminders. It’s like a rainbow of depression has taken over your desk. (Dear debt collectors, bright colors do not lessen the suffering.)
Rest assured, you will one day look back on this time and appreciate that you were forced to perform.
Know that what you’re going through now is making you a better person. Who would you be if you’d never gone through hardship?
2. How you’re ever going to improve your awful credit score when you have so much else to pay for.
You like your living situation now but you know one day you might have to move; you may need a new car soon; and what if you ever want to work for the FBI?
Yup, life ruined.
There’s a part of you that just wants to say, “Screw it,” and forget that your worth in this country is dictated by an arbitrary number (So bad credit. Much fuckery.) and the amount of money you have at your disposal.
Honestly, you’re doing all you can and you just can’t afford to take on any more payments. Until you hear from Daddy Warbucks (who is really frigging slacking here) or get a promotion, it won’t even be an option.
So don’t think about it. Or just be honest with that guy from the bank who knows a lot more about your life than he really should and tell him that while you’re not ignoring the responsibility, you’ve gotta eat.
Most importantly, do not let the dwindling numbers on Credit Karma haunt you. You will one day be in a situation to where you can fix this. That day just isn’t today. What fun is life if it’s all easy?
3. How guilty you feel after that last cronut and how you’ll ever get a nice body with a sweet tooth like this.
One cronut does not a type II diabetic make.
Though the concept sounds way too simple and is pretty infuriating after you’ve just downed the remainder of the cookie butter ice cream (Trader Joe’s strikes again), exercise to match the occasional gluttony will be your savior. Easy as that.
Also, if you’ve seen the never-ending funnel of photo essays comparing pre- and post-photoshopped images that have been all over your feed lately, you should know that you’ve been fed a lie your entire life and that the standard of beauty you were aspiring to is actually nonexistent. Joy of joys!
So eat that cronut, enjoy it and don’t stress that hard over a pastry. You do realize that you likely look much better to others than you do to yourself, right?
4. Why you’re still single when everyone else is coupled.
As if it wasn’t bad enough, everyone is now “shipping” you with their boyfriend’s/fiancee’s/wife’s best friend who you remember from their kick back/bachelorette party/wedding as being an alcoholic/mind-numbing/homophobe.
Night train to Nopesville, friends.
Vital reality check: the way the outside world perceives the relationships of others is largely skewed.
It’s like your Facebook feed. All you see is the partying, the promotions and the new cars but we’re still talking about human beings and everyone has their battles; but the thing is, you will never see the battles.
So even when you feel that sense of loneliness and despair as the result of coming across myriad images of happy couples drinking overly expensive seasonal lattes (pumpkins, pralines, peppermints, oh my!) and frolicking on the beach, there should be a part of you that knows your own relationship is coming if you so choose.
But really, is Joe Jonas
’s bulge single or…?
5. If having a lot of sex with multiple partners makes you a bad person.
No, no, the answer is no forevermore.
This is a personal choice that is no one else’s business, and the people with the time to care are wasting life.
Whether you have sex with two people or 20 people in your lifetime, your self-worth should be a completely separate issue. It boggles the mind that it’s even seen as a factor.
If you are not doing what makes you happy because someone might call you a slut or a man-whore, you’re letting someone who has no real bearing on you alter the short amount of time you have.
Happy people don’t hurt others. This is a variation of a statement first made by Elle in Legally Blonde that involved murder and husbands but involved the psyches of happy people nonetheless.
Think Elle worried about her number?
6. Whether your family is ever going to love each other again.
Say you went your entire life watching your parents love one another only to get the voicemail that they’re splitting up two weeks after you move into the dorms. Or maybe someone you love has developed some really bad habits that rock you from the inside out. Maybe money has torn your family apart to the point that you may as well be an orphan.
There will never be a time that you should punish yourself for someone else’s actions. It is never selfish to remove yourself from a situation that’s making you sick or unhappy or depressed. It is possible to be alone and not lonely. You are enough for you.
Whether your family (or friend or relationship) issues ever work themselves out or not, if you’ve read this far these stresses are probably relatable to you. I’m going through them, you’re going through them and we’re all one big disrupted family.
What you do have power over is how you craft your own life and the relationships you build. You can make sure that what happened to your family, or someone you love, does not happen to you.
That’s not selfish. That’s self-preservation.
It’s not your responsibility to fix everything around you. When did you start feeling that way?