How to Stop Sweating the Small Stuff

Man siting with laptop

In this fast-paced, technology-driven age, perfection has somewhat become the new norm. With sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, people seem to be watching everything we do, from our graduation day to the birth of our first child. And if you don’t announce your accomplishments on your personal page? Your peers might make assumptions that you’re unsuccessful.

But are we really being pressured to be perfect, or are we just overthinking society’s standards?

When we overthink, our judgement gets clouded, increasing our stress levels and causing us to be irritable and to sweat the small stuff. As such, we stop appreciating the little things in life, and only get satisfied when we give or receive something grand.

That said, let’s delve deeper into the science of stress and overthinking.

Why do we overreact to “small” stress?

Contrary to popular belief, our emotions aren’t something we can easily control, after all. That’s because our nervous system isn’t very good at differentiating emotional and physical threats. Hence, our body can react to minor inconveniences just as strongly as it would to actual life-threatening scenarios.

The more our stressors get activated, the easier it is to trigger, and the harder it is stop.

Such high stress levels can be attributed to lack of sleep. A major study has found that after just 17 hours of sleep deprivation, our presence of mind can become similar to that of having a 0.05% alcohol concentration in our bloodstream.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation also affects our abilities to solve problems. We become more forgetful, less coordinated, and our coping skills are dwindled. These effects cause us to get more irritable and easily frustrated.

Other than lack of sleep, irritability can also stem from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Physical and medical conditions, including low-blood sugar, certain respiratory disorders, ear infections, flu, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and polycystic ovary syndrome may also be contributing factors. Hence, if you suspect that your regular irritability is starting to interfere with your daily life, consult a doctor.


Stressed man

First, you have to be aware when a bout of overthinking and irritability is happening. Once you find yourself feeling too stressed, step back, and assess the situation and how you’re responding. By doing so, you’ll discover the change you want to make.

Focus on What Can Go Right

Oftentimes, when trouble arises, we focus on everything that can go wrong, which drags us further down. Moving forward, try to shift to your focus on what can go right in a tricky situation. Do this when you’re engaging in menial tasks, too, like house chores. For example, if you can’t remove a stubborn stain on a clothing, stop fussing over it, and just call a reliable laundromat service for help. That way, you can relax, knowing that you can hire an expert to solve a complex problem for you.

Do Calming Activities

Try meditating, dancing, working out, or creating art when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These simple activities can distract you from stress, and plant happy thoughts in your brain.

Be Flexible

We tend to be resistant to change when we stick to a certain routine. As such, we may not let ourselves enjoy a different scenario at a time when we’re supposed to be doing something else entirely. However, flexibility is healthy, too, especially in the “new normal”, where most old routines are challenged.

Accept that You Can’t Control Everything

Go easy on yourself and accept that not everything is within your control. If something goes wrong, remember rule number one: be aware. Take a breather, and once you’ve cooled down, you’ll realize that sweating the small stuff isn’t worth it at all.

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