You’ve heard the phrase again and again: Don’t sweat the small stuff. But you may have some questions … starting with, what constitutes “small stuff?” In short, this phrase refers to the minor inconveniences in our lives. You know, the ones that definitely won’t matter in 5 years (or maybe even 2 weeks), but you lose sleep worrying about them anyway? 😉
The truth is, no matter how often this phrase is repeated, we all find ourselves sweating the small stuff sometimes. And while we constantly have people telling us to let the insignificant things go, nobody ever tells us how to actually do that. If any of this sounds familiar to you, here’s our advice!
Control what you can control.
How often do we get wrapped up in the uncontrollable? The way other people act, the future, the past, the outcome of pretty much any situation … we have little to no say in any of it. So, why do we spend so much time worrying about it?
Research shows that this might be our natural response to protect ourselves. Towson University Psychologist, Sandra Llera, says that we worry as a way to feel emotionally prepared for negative outcomes. The truth? The outcome likely can’t be changed, whether you worry or not! Instead, try focusing on controlling the things you can control like the way you treat people, the energy you surround yourself with, and the values you live by. The rest will take care of itself.
Our brains are incredible for so many reasons. But, what’s their downfall, you ask? Overthinking. We get into the habit of making problems where there aren’t any, or thinking something is a big deal when it’s not. Your boss looks at you weird for .02 seconds and suddenly you think you’re getting fired tomorrow. In reality, the look they gave you was because they were trying to hold in a sneeze. It’s a funny concept when you think about it—but we’ve all been there! Here are some hacks for stopping your overthinking habit in its tracks:
- Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself. How much of it is based on facts?
- Take other points of view into consideration (and realize that if someone is upset, it’s not necessarily because of you!).
- Learn the difference between your intuition and fear.
- Be present in the moment.
The truth is that most of our problems are the ones we create in our heads. Take a step back and try to look at the big picture. You’ll be surprised to find how many of your problems seem to disappear when you do.
Take a breath.
You missed your alarm this morning. Your coffee order got messed up. You were charged $20 for missing a workout class that you forgot you signed up for. Yes, these things are annoying, but in this moment, you have a decision to make: Are you going to let this completely ruin your day? Or are you going to take control of your emotions? If you chose the latter, that’s great! That was a test and you answered correctly (go, you!). But how do you keep yourself from completely losing your marbles over small inconveniences?
Take a breath. Seriously, take just a few seconds to inhale and exhale deeply to slow your heartrate down and lower your stress levels. Some of these breathing techniques might help get the job done, too! It seems funny, but this is one of the easiest, quickest ways to get your emotions in check.
There will always be things that go wrong … unfortunately, that’s inevitable. Some of those things are big and deserve all of our attention and emotions. But most of the time, the things we worry about are incredibly small.
It’s good to get into the habit of asking yourself this question: In 5 years, will this matter? If not, that’s what we would call “the small stuff.” And no matter how hard it is, let it go.