10 Little Things That Cause Stress, But Can Easily Be Avoided
It's often the little things in life that can lift your mood the most, but on the flip side, it can also be those same little things that cause stress in the first place. Those small parts of your day are particularly aggravating because they tend to feel like something you can't avoid. You might feel like a situation with work is totally out of your control, or your family is driving you up a wall and won't get the hint that you need some space.
In truth, while little moments of stress may feel unavoidable, with the right attitude and a few easy tactics, you can take those little stressful lemon moments and turn them into relaxation lemonade.
Everyone has their own pressure points that set them into a panicked frenzy. You might be the type of person who can't handle a cluttered apartment, or you might be the type of person who is constantly sprinting to a meeting 15 minutes behind schedule. No matter what your pressure cooker is, there's always a strategy to help you combat it.
The single best strategy for handling stress, in a general sense, is perspective. Most stressful situations are not life-threatening, and if you can find the time to take a few deep breaths and ask yourself if this problem will matter a year from now, the answer is almost always no. But it can help to get a little bit more specific, too. Here are 10 little points of stress that can easily be avoided with the right tactics.
1. Hunger Pains
Nothing can derail your day faster than a sudden onset of the stomach grumblies, with no food in sight to satisfy you.
For this reason, it's a great practice to keep emergency snacks in all of the places where you occasionally get marooned for longer than you planned: in your car in case you get stuck in traffic, or in your desk drawer in case a half-hour meeting transforms into a day-long crisis management session.
Try keeping a pack of almonds or a protein bar nearby to ensure that you don't reach full meltdown mode once you're hungry.
2. Ridiculous Work Deadlines
So, you've been handed a totally absurd deadline that in no way, shape, or form will ever work out for you or your boss.
First of all, don't panic. Panic and stress are not a solution, and will only increase the stakes of the situation. Instead, pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and look over what has been asked of you. When you have a clear handle on what you can do and what you can't, try to communicate that with whomever you're working with. You can only ever work to your highest capacity, and beyond that, all you can do is accept that it's out of your control.
3. Other People's Stress
There will always be other people who are stressed out in your periphery. The trick is to learn that it's not your job to manage or help carry their stress in addition to your own.
If a co-worker is having a nervous breakdown in the cubicle next to you over something absurd, you can offer a supportive ear, but beyond that, you should continue on with your day without letting her stress creep into your own mental state.
4. Social Media Feeds
There are few things in life that can get under your skin faster than scrolling through news feeds to see how "perfect" other people's lives are.
First of all, it's important to keep in mind that no one is perfect, and a social media feed is never a completely accurate or total representation of someone's life.
Secondly, if you're getting stressed out every time you log onto Instagram, it's time to make a change. You basically have two options: You can stop logging on as much and choose instead to do activities that encourage a healthy mindset (like spending time with friends in person), or you can work on curating a social feed that makes you feel good.
5. Nonstop Group Chats
Group texting threads can be fun — until they get out of hand, and suddenly you see 200 unread messages on your phone after leaving a 15-minute meeting.
The "Do Not Disturb" option on your phone is an excellent way to silence a potentially overwhelming thread until you have time to check it out at a later point.
6. Being Late For Meetings Or Appointments
Sometimes it feels like punctuality (or lack thereof) is something of a genetic trait, like you either have it or you don't. As far as I know, it's certainly not genetic, but being perpetually early or late to events can definitely still turn into a habit pretty quickly. If you're late all the time and that's giving you stress, it's time to break that habit for the sake of your own well-being.
One easy way to do this is to take the time you usually plan for something, and simply add 30 minutes to it. This should ensure that you arrive somewhere early, and it'll almost serve as a way to recalibrate your brain in the process, too.
7. Political Debates
Conversations about politics are never fun, but in 2017, they're reaching unprecedented heights of discomfort.
Although now is not the time to silence your thoughts entirely, there's certainly a difference between engaging in productive political discourse, and talking to a bigoted, rude wall. If someone is essentially egging you on for a fight, there's nothing wrong with turning your shoulder and opting out of an unhealthy situation for both parties.
8. A Dirty Apartment
It's the weekend, and you want to relax, but your apartment is a literal nest of dirty clothing and dishes.
First of all, don't freak out right away. Take a deep breath, put some music on, and tackle one chore at a time, making sure to space them all out so that it doesn't overwhelm you.
I personally like to abide by the "treat yo'self" strategy of chores, where I reward myself with a goblet of wine for every chore I fully complete on the weekend. At this point, I've basically wired my brain to look forward to doing laundry.
9. Watching A Sports Game
Is it just me, or are sporting events the least relaxing weekend activity of all time? It's a catch-22: You only watch sports teams regularly if you genuinely care about the team, but once you care about a team, the watching quickly goes from enjoyable, to flat-out nerve-wrenching.
My solution? Focus on the cheese dip, the beer, and those cute little commercials with Belgian horses.
10. Holidays Spent With Relatives
OK, so this one is pretty unavoidable. Holidays with the relatives can often be, for lack of a better word, unbearable. The best solution for this is to remind yourself of the importance of holiday spirit and goodwill, even if you're dealing with an aunt who can't stop asking why you're still single.
Take a breath, or even a break if you have to. There's nothing to stop you from stepping outside for five minutes if the holidays get a little out of hand.
You've got this, guys.