Terrified of terrorism? Self-conscious all the time? Career conundrums? How do we know? We asked over 500 Cosmo readers what their greatest worries are, and it turns out we fret over the same things. Yes, we’re a worried bunch, but enough is enough and now we’re calling time on this toxic relationship. So, we’ve gathered a team of experts to help silence that inner voice once and for all and bust our top 10 concerns.
1. Your Career
A whopping 90 percent of you are losing sleep over your careers, with 56 percent revealing you think about it all the time. Talk about work zapping your energy! Whether you’re worrying about job security, your salary or whether or not you’re in the right job altogether, the best thing you can do is remind yourself that you are not your work. “We all want to achieve the best that we can, but sometimes we can raise the bar too high,” says Dr Stephen Carbone, Evaluation Research Leader with BeyondBlue.
“I’m not saying people shouldn’t try to excel and do their best, but if you put all of your eggs in that basket and your identity depends on you being this wonderfully successful person and you’re not going to value yourself unless you are the CEO of the biggest company in the country, there’s a risk you’re going to fail because there’s only one!” Dr Stephen says to always “give it a go, give it your best and if you succeed, pat yourself on the back. But if you don’t, you tried, and failure is not a reflection on someone’s ability or personality, it’s just the way the world works.”
To keep your worries at bay, do something little every day for your career; even if it’s as simple as just updating your resume or attending a seminar. “You are many things and what you do as a job is just one of those things.”
“I used to love flying, but now I am terrified and constantly look around for any warning signs of danger,” says Kriti D., 29. “I also get jumpy in crowded venues and on trains.” And she’s not alone. 90 percent of you worry about the threat of terrorism—how can you not when we’re all bombarded with scary headlines and disasters daily? “When something is talked about a lot it makes us think it is a common phenomena and one of the features of worry is that we start to overestimate the possibility of something happening,” says Dr Stephen. ‘Terrorism is a very important issue, yes, but you also need to put things in context.”
Dr Stephen says it’s important to look at what’s in our control, and terrorism definitely isn’t. “It comes down to what you can do in your day-to-day life to keep yourself as safe as you possibly can, rather than worrying about things that are out of your control.”
3. Your Money
73 percent of you are worried about your debt, but your lack of savings shouldn’t be a constant migraine if you start tracking your spending. “If you start to be aware of your finances, then you can change it,” says author of Getting Out Of Debt Joyfully, Simone Milasas. “Don’t be afraid of money. Don’t be afraid of your bills and of looking at what’s coming in and going out; you have to look at it and be aware of it.”
Simone suggests starting a ‘10 percent account’. “You put in 10 percent of every single rupee that you earn; if you earn Rs 10,000, you put Rs 1000 away. Put it in an account, a shoebox, whatever it is you desire and that’s honouring of you. You start to have financial freedom; and you start to have a sense of peace because you actually have money.” Most of all, Simone advises, “be grateful for every rupee you earn. Money follows joy; joy does not follow money. People always think they’ll be happy if they had an ‘X’ amount, but if you’re doing what you love, money will show up. You are the source of creation—money isn’t the source of creation.”
4. Your Body Image
52 percent of you worry about your looks 24/7 and only four percent of you believe you’re ‘hot’ (spoiler: you’re all hot). “I spend hours and hours scrolling through my Insta feed, comparing myself to gorgeous women, and I always feel gross,” says Esha K., 27. “I have become obsessed with dieting, and I wake up early to make sure my make-up and hair are always perfect.” If you feel like real life isn’t measuring up to the filtered fantasy on your phone, you are far from alone. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found the more time young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to be depressed and have low self-esteem. “We should never envy that what we see on social media because most of it is false,” insists sexologist and relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein. “Stop looking through Insta and Facebook. Put the phone away and enjoy what you have in your life right now. Look around and ask yourself, What do I have to be thankful for? ‘I live in a beautiful place, I have lovely friends.’ Enjoy the simple things and stop beating yourself up.”
5. Your Relationships
Half of you fret about your love life and worry you’ll end up alone. “I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone who wants to spend the rest of their life with me,” admits Ashima M., 31. “My friends tell me I need to put myself out there more, but I’m too scared I’ll be rejected.” Dr Nikki says, “Whether you’re in a relationship or single, fear of rejection can hang over our heads, like a miserable cloud of doom, so it’s time we back ourselves more, ladies. “We all have these insecurities, but how strongly they impact our lives will depend on how strong our sense of self is,” says Dr Nikki.
“If you have good self-esteem, then when those ideas come into your head, you’ll be able to talk through them. You will ask yourself, Do I have anything to worry about, really? Am I secure in my relationship? And you’ll work it out. If you’re really having a moment of self-doubt, then these thoughts will come into your head and they’ll feel very real. You need to learn how to love yourself and know that you’re worthy of a loving relationship.” Side note: always surround yourself with people who love you for who you actually are.
6. Your Social Life
44 percent of you worry about your popularity status, “Everyone seems to have a bigger social circle than me,” says Jasmine K., 24. “On social media, everyone is always out and about at parties, while I’m at home.” We know social media has a way of making us feel inadequate, so we need to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s time to embrace some ‘me time’. “We always feel like we have to be doing something and surrounded by people, but when do you just get to sit and relax?” says Dr Nikki. “I love being lonely. I love going for a walk on my own or to sit in the park to read a book. Love yourself, date yourself— don’t be scared to be alone, it’s a lovely time.”
7. Your Health
29 percent of you are on a health kick, but with those energy levels hard to maintain, you’re feeling more vacant-eyed zombie than the Energizer Bunny. It’s no surprise, with all the plates we’re trying to balance, but the answer literally lies on your plate. “Come off the caffeine,” says nutritionist Pip Reed. “It gives you that boost, but what goes up must come down, so you then crash and become more tired and then you’re looking for that next caffeine hit or sugar hit to get that energy back up. That cycle is exhausting in itself.” If you really can’t cut it, make sure you don’t have it on an empty stomach. “Try to make it your mid-morning snack or post-exercise, when your metabolism is already firing, but limit it to one a day,” says Pip.
Increase your water intake and swapping out refined carbs and sugar for vegetables, lean protein and good whole grains will keep energy levels from doing roller-coaster flips. “For breakfast, eat something that’s high in protein, like eggs, avocado and tomato on a slice of rye sourdough. That will fill you up and give you a boost of fibre, which is going to be good for your gut, as well as give you that energy. If you’re in a rush, have a protein shake, which will also give you a steady release of energy.” If you’re still fatigued, see a GP to get to the root of the cause.
8. Your Sex Life
28 percent of you think your sex life’s not up to scratch. “I don’t have nearly as much sex as my friends,” says Vaishali R., 32. “I always question what’s wrong with my libido.” The take-away? “There is no such thing as normal when it comes to sex,” says Dr Nikki. “If you’re not having sex every night, it doesn’t matter, if that’s what works for you; or maybe you are having sex every night. It’s very normal for sexual attitudes and beliefs to be a bit out of sync because we’re all different—some like morning sex, some like night-time sex. Relationships are about compromise, and we have to get better at discussing sex with our partners, feeling more open about it, and being okay with some awkwardness. And if you have a conversation that’s a bit unpleasant, it’s alright, stick with it.”
Dr Nikki suggests that you and your partner write down the things you do like about your sex life. This way you can “celebrate what does work and focus on that by creating a new list together of things you both like.”
9. Your Family
With 74 percent of you stating your family are the ones who pick you up when you feel down, it’s perfectly normal for you to worry about their wellbeing. Dr Stephen says you have to recognise your own limits and accept that there are some things simply out of your control. “You are not super-human; do your best, but you are not the only person that can be involved. Sometimes people need external carers to help with elderly parents or maybe the best solution is for them to go into residential aged care,” he explains. “People don’t need to feel responsible or that they failed their parents if that’s an outcome that occurs.” The most important thing, whether you live next door to your parents or on another continent, is to communicate. “It’s about staying in touch and staying connected,” adds Dr Stephen.
10. Your Fertility
79 percent of you want children, so it’s not surprising you’re worried about your fertility. “I just turned 30 and feel an enormous amount of pressure to get hitched, settle down and start a family. My family keeps reminding me how old I am that I’m ‘not getting any younger’,” says Nidhi C., 30. “I can hear my body clock ticking louder than ever and it plays on my mind constantly.” If you’re between the ages of 35 and 39, you’ve got a 78 percent chance of conceiving naturally within a year, so really, there is no need to fret. Associate Professor Peter Illingworth agrees there is no need to stress. “The vast majority of women at 35 can conceive by themselves,” he says. “It’s after 40 that it gets harder,” he adds.