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20 Things to Stop Worrying About (and How)

We’ve all got funny quirks and odd things that send us on an anxiety tailspin. But freak out no more. While worry can be beneficial in some instances, certain fears just aren’t worth the headache. We’ve got 20 things to stop worrying about right now, and how we can keep them in check.

Bouncing a check: Financial stress may be the most common concern out there, and bouncing a check isn’t exactly the height of fiscal responsibility. But for those who go into a cold sweat every time they bust out the checkbook, keep in mind the penalty for bouncing a check typically isn’t huge—about $30 on average. To prevent a problem, ask the bank about overdraft protection, and consider switching banks if yours doesn’t offer it.

The “cash-only” conundrum: Most of us have been there: The check arrives and that formerly adorable little café turns into a nightmare—cash only?! First, understand the waiter or cashier probably sees this all the time, so no need to panic. Ask to borrow the cash from a pal or date and then immediately go together to an ATM to pay them back. If alone, ask the waiter for the nearest ATM and head there; plastic-free places are typically pretty trusting. In the future, scan the menu for a cash-only warning before ordering or check a review site like Yelp, which usually lists whether cards are accepted.

Paying the rent late: Paying bills can be a huge source of anxiety, especially when a late fee’s involved. But there’s no need to stress too much about forgetting to drop off the rent check before heading out of town. First, if the due date is a weekend or holiday, the check typically isn’t considered late yet. Plus, there isn’t an actual penalty for submitting the rent late for a while (the exact length of time depends on lease terms) after the due date. Re-read the lease for details about the grace period and late fee date.

Social Life
A pal has a booger hanging out: Those of us who are easily embarrassed are less likely to tell others they have a tag showing, food in their teeth, or even, yes, a booger hanging out of their nose. But chances are most people will be relieved—temporarily embarrassed, too, but mostly relieved—to be informed. And next time we can count on that pal to be on booger patrol for us.

Telling a white lie: The best rule we could find for white lies is this: They’re okay when protecting others, but plain dishonest when they protect the liar (i.e. “Oh no! The dog must have knocked over that vase” won’t fly). The goal in telling a fib should be showing compassion, but many of us can still feel frantic when grasping at something positive to say about an ugly baby or less than delicious dinner. Instead of all-out lying, mention one thing you like (“Wow, your son’s eyes are such a great color!”). Awkwardness averted.

Forgetting to call a friend back: Whether it was a true slip-up or an “accident,” there’s no need to feel like a jerk. Wait until there’s actually time to chat (not in between errands, while watching TV, or otherwise devoting only partial attention); then call back. Quickly apologize for the mistake and move on to more important matters, like what’s going on in her life—after all, meaningful talks are important for both parties.

Working and Networking
Being late to an interview: Whenever possible, alert the interviewer as soon as you realize you’ll be late. Once the interview’s begun, apologize and offer a brief explanation. (Just don’t blame it on someone else, since most employers won’t want to hire someone who likes to shift blame.) Then move on. Dwelling on it aloud or in our heads can only worsen the rest of the meeting.

A tough meeting with the boss: That request for a raise is coming out a lot more like stutters and suddenly we notice we’re wearing footie pajamas. (Phew, this is just a nightmare.) Prep for a big meeting by actually writing down what needs to be said. Don’t read it like a script, but skim it beforehand until the main points stick. Then remember, what’s the worst that could happen? The boss will say no to that raise, but probably stop short of giving us the boot.

Not responding to an email: Ugh, an email has been sitting in the inbox for two weeks (darn you, distracting YouTube!) and now you don’t even know whether to respond at all. Do it! Write that it slipped through the cracks and then address the issue at hand. In the future, try to respond to every email within 24 hours if only to say “I’ll be able to get to this on ____ date.” And remember, almost all of us have done this.

Romantic Relationships
Being bad in bed: Men say the only way to be bad in bed is to not be into it—which is a lot more likely when worrying about being bad in bed. No matter your partner’s gender, the best way to ensure good sex is to constantly look and ask for feedback. But remember, a lot goes into “good sex” for women, like their mindset and feelings about the relationship, so out-of-the-bedroom changes could make a difference, too.

Not getting along with the in-laws: About 60 percent of women and 15 percent of men say they have a tough relationship with in-laws, so don’t worry about being the only one. But to avoid the strain, change the expectations — many women expect to be unconditionally loved and embraced like a daughter while her mother-in-law plans to be treated on the authority when it comes to her kid. Just accept that marriage won’t make everyone get along.

Cooking and Eating
Eating an indulgent dessert:That cupcake was freaking delicious. No need to beat ourselves up about it. Dwelling on eating a “bad” food makes eating healthy in the future harder, not easier.

That milk expired yesterday: Expiration dates aren’t always the last word on food freshness, and some might not even mean what we think they mean. Some foods last longer, and some (like meat) actually may not survive at home until the store’s sell-by date. Appearance, smell, and taste are usually good guidelines though.

Swallowing gum: Time to put this myth to bed. Gum will not stay in your stomach for years on end. For kiddos it could cause an intestinal blockage, but it’d take significantly more than one piece.

Not getting enough protein: Sure, protein’s definitely important. But most people don’t need to worry about not eating enough. It’s easy to reach the recommended daily allowance (around 50 grams for adults) with just a few servings of legumes, dairy, and/or meat.

Accidents and Disasters
Dropping a phone in the toilet: There’s no such thing as true prevention here, so focus on preparation. Immediately yank it back out of the toilet. If possible, immediately remove the battery without stopping to shut down (if not, just immediately power off). If there was anything but water involved, rinse the phone with fresh water. Take the phone apart as much as possible before putting it somewhere to dry for three days, and covering it in rice might help wick away moisture—yeah, seriously. Of course, there are always waterproof cases to prevent this catastrophe in the first place.

Losing a wallet: While it’s inconvenient, losing a wallet is not the end of the world. These days almost everything in a wallet is replaceable (if not, take it out of that wallet now — including a social security card). When in public, allow 15 minutes to calmly retrace steps and search for the wallet (at home, allow an hour). Then start canceling credit cards. Make a list of account numbers and associated phone numbers to keep safely at home, along with contact info for the DMV.

Missing an oil change: Modern engine oil typically doesn’t need to be changed every 3,000 miles or 3 months as we’ve always been told. First, check the car’s manual, which may actually recommend less frequent changes. Then, if the car has an oil monitoring system, we can safely rely on that to tell us when an oil change is actually necessary. Of course, there’s the old-fashioned method, too: Just check the oil.

The possibility of falling on the subway/train tracks: One study found that over 13 years, there was an average of 25 homicidal or accidental subway deaths per year in NYC. That’s out of about 1.5 billion trips (on NYC’s MTA alone) per year. Sure, stand away from the tracks, but no need to fear for your life.

Using electronics during takeoff and landing: Yeah, it could get us kicked off the plane or—more likely—dressed down by the flight attendant, but chances are forgetting to turn off our Kindles did not just send the plane off in the wrong direction. The FAA doesn’t actually have proof electronics can mess with the plane’s navigation, but it’s still a regulation. The takeaway: Power down when told to, but if something accidentally stays on, there’s no need to panic.

Want more tips for a stress-free life? Click here for 20 more things it's OK to let go from!