With 2014 newly upon us, many of us are vowing to make the changes we usually hope to make as one calendar year ends and another begins. These resolutions might involve reconnecting with old friends or losing weight, but if the latest national surveys are any indication, others may focus on banishing those things that stress us out -- and that may be the best resolution of all. In 2013 it was reported that working women were more stressed than ever, millennials were named the most-stressed generation and employees in demanding positions are continually at risk for burnout.
But despite everything that has given us anxiety, nearly 50 percent of Americans are optimistic that 2014 is going to be more fortuitous than the last. So as we say goodbye to the last year, it's also time to say goodbye to unnecessary stressors that may be dragging us down. Below find 14 things you should stop worrying about in the new year (because stressing over them is so 2013).
1. Your email inbox.
Between the faux pas and the growing number of unread messages that stress you out on the weekends, it's no surprise this past year was filled with email anxiety. Vow to leave the email stress behind and regain your sense of inbox stability -- you'll be a better employee for it. According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, taking an email vacation can even reduce stress and make you more productive.
2. Gaining five pounds.
We naturally scrutinize everything about our physical appearance, especially when it comes to the numbers on the scale. It's important to remember that your weight can fluctuate each day due to a few factors and one big meal isn't going to really affect you. Perhaps it's time to leave our body insecurities -- and image stress -- in 2013.
3. Leaving your phone at home.
It's your worst nightmare: You're halfway to your destination and realize you left your phone sitting on your kitchen table. Being disconnected -- even for a short amount of time -- can actually cause phone panic. A 2012 study revealed that 73 percent of Americans would feel anxiety being without a cell phone for an extended period of time. In the new year, don't stress about being off the grid for a while, whether accidental or deliberate. Unplugging from your smartphone can do wonders for your productivity, your sleep cycle and even your eating habits.
4. Eating gluten, dairy, meat or any other food that your friends have "sworn off."
Go ahead and order what you want from the menu. Just because your friend is ordering the gluten-free, vegan pasta or the garden salad doesn't mean that you need to. Everyone's food habits are different -- and sometimes adopting certain dietary restrictions when you don't need to can lead to some health risks. Don't feel the need to change what you eat if it isn't truly benefiting you in any way.
5. Working from home.
Is your maintenance guy coming to fix a leak but know you have to commute to work? Don't sweat it. Creating a more flexible work schedule isn't selfish. It allows you to balance your office and home life, which can significantly reduce your stress. Flexible work schedules can even result in happier, healthier and more loyal employees -- all the more reason to embrace it and not stress about it.
6. Keeping a spotless apartment or desk.
Admit it: Your mother would probably be horrified at the state of your bedroom or your work cubicle sometimes. Even if it is the case, stressing about tidiness isn't worth it. In fact, your "organized chaos" may be making you more imaginative. Studies have shown that messier rooms and workspaces can even lead to more creativity. So instead of worrying about clutter, learn to embrace it in the new year.
7. Not loving CrossFit, SoulCycle, Piloxing or any other trendy workout.
So you like to jog around your neighborhood park? Or prefer yoga to that fancy Pilates class? That's okay. As long as you're exercising and doing something you love, who cares what's in vogue at the moment. Your body and your brain are still benefiting from what you're doing.
8. Heading to that cafe down the street during your lunch break.
Studies have shown that eating lunch away from your desk is more beneficial during the workday than eating in front of the computer. In fact, the habit of eating at your cubicle may be making you more stressed out and less creative. So next time you want to head to the deli when the clock strikes noon, don't feel guilty -- your work will actually be better for it.
9. Taking your vacation days.
You're given the time off for a reason -- because you need it. Studies have shown that taking a vacation from work has been proven to lower your stress levels. Planning a vacation can also help boost feelings of well-being and overall happiness for up to eight weeks before the trip. In the new year, stop worrying over taking your vacation time and plan something you'll enjoy. You'll thank yourself for it.
10. Your coffee habit.
If you're a self-proclaimed coffee addict, don't fret. Your morning cup (or cups) of joe are actually full of antioxidants and the scent of your beverage can even help you reduce stress. If you've been feeling guilty for your coffee consumption, leave the worry about it behind as you enter the new year. As long as you put a halt to the late-afternoon caffeine intake to make sure it doesn't mess with your sleep, you're fine.
11. Not getting to the gym every day.
You don't need to log two hours on the elliptical to make a difference in your fitness -- in fact, taking breaks are also important to your exercise regimen. Instead of beating yourself up about not getting to the gym, take a look at other areas of your life where you may be able to sneak in some exercise. Can you get off on an earlier subway stop and walk to work? Can you take the stairs to get your floor or take your dog out for a longer walk? There are other methods besides the gym that can work just as well, so don't fret if you don't have time to get to it every single day.
12. Having everything be "just right."
Your need for perfection is causing more harm than good, so it may be time to let it go in 2014. If you're prone to procrastination, being eager to please and adopting an "all or nothing attitude," it may actually be negatively affecting your creativity and adds to feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. It's okay to release yourself from the idea that everything has to be just right -- you may start to feel a whole lot better.
13. That mobile upload.
Did you get tagged in a picture you find unflattering? Are you friends posting photos at an event that you're not at? Or are you worried about how you look in that Snapchat selfie? It's time to release yourself from the stress of social media. Studies have shown that photos posted on social media can create greater feelings of loneliness for the observer, and selfies have opened up new doors for potential insecurities. Instead of stressing over the photos shared online, focus your energy on something else that you know will make you happier (like hanging out with your friends).
14. Your friends' engagements, babies or work promotions.
Theodore Roosevelt once said "comparison is the thief of joy" -- and he couldn't have been more right. Comparing yourself to others stresses you out and robs you of your current happiness. Each person's pace of life is different, and just because your college friends are all flashing their engagement rings and you're focusing on other priorities doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. In 2014, make a vow to cultivate gratitude for the here and now -- and stop comparing your beginning to someone else's middle.