If you're a chronic worrier, here's what you should know about your brain.

I worry a lot. I worry about my friends, my health, my planet. Heck, I worry about worrying too much.

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It can keep me up at night wondering whether I've ruined my shoes by buying shoe polish, or it can make me read that one email 10 times before sending it off. It can be tempting to hate my brain for worrying so much.


Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on myself. Every human being worries. And it turns out, worrying can have some surprising upsides, as professor Kate Sweeny recently wrote. So if you're the kind of person who worries about worrying, here are two big things to remember, courtesy of Sweeny:

1. Worrying is a track coach, keeping our brains active and motivated.

Image from iStock.

Nobody would hate their brains for making them feel scared when there's a big, obvious danger. Like an angry tiger. Or a bear. Or an angry tiger riding a bear. In that case, we need an immediate motivator for an immediate problem.

But our brains need a subtler response to subtler problems. Worry and anxiety can help our brains recognize and focus on long-term problems or motivate us to make better choices, like wearing our seat belts or applying sunscreen to avoid skin cancer.

2. Worrying is an emotional cushion, making our highs higher and lows not as bad.

Image from iStock.

Though worrying itself is unpleasant, it can help balance out our other emotions. One study showed the BBC television sitcom "Fawlty Towers" got funnier after watching a tense horror movie.

On the flip side, if things end up going south, your brain has already prepared itself. So worrying can be an emotional win-win.

But like all things, there's a right amount.

While a little worry can help us stay motivated, too much can paralyze us and can be a sign of anxiety disorders. If that's what's going on, taking a break from Facebook, practicing meditation, exercising, and talking with a therapist can all help reduce anxiety.

So, biologically, don't hate your brain for worrying.

Worry can be stressful. It's not fun to stay awake thinking about what you're going to say to your boss on Monday, whether you're eating right, or whether you're being a good friend. You might find yourself beset by worries at the worst time.

And that's OK. We can't always control our brains, but we worrywarts don't always need to feel bad for worrying. Sometimes it's our brain just helping us out.

Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less