Worrying not worth the effort

IN a volatile global economy there is one thing that Belinda and Colin Barrett don't worry about owning a house. "We don't have a mortgage and we don't want one," Mrs Barrett said. But with four children to look after there are plenty of other things that give the Tweed Heads couple cause to ponder. "I worry about the finances, having the four kids, paying the bills," Mr Barrett said. For Mrs Barrett, who works as a sales professional in a jewellery store, it is irate customers and changes to the company that bring out the frown lines. "I also worry about being safe at home," she said. And then of course there is the constant worrying about worrying. "It ages you. You want to live a stress-free happy life," Mrs Barrett said. The Barretts are certainly not alone, with a recently%released NRMA survey finding 69 per cent of people in NSW falling prey to worry-%ing about life's everyday stresses. Top of the list are the office know-it-all, smelly people on public transport and nosy neighbours. NRMA insurance group marketing manager Lynette Argent said the research revealed most people were sweating the "small stuff". Southern Cross University Associate Professor in psychology Rick van der Zwan said people worried about things they could not control. "Usually people really do worry when there is ambi-%guity," Professor van der Zwan said. "When we are not sure what is or is not going to happen, what the outcomes of something will be." Professor van der Zwan said recognising what we can and cannot control was the first step to reduce worrying. "Be realistic and honest and always plan where poss-%ible. Practice not worrying about things you cannot control, but do be honest about what you can control," he said. "Also, time spent worrying is time spent not being happy and not being happy is never good." A bout of shopping always does the trick for Mrs Barrett, while for her husband it is fishing and relaxing with a beer. "I chill out a lot and spend some time on retail therapy," Mrs Barrett said.

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