Death is in the Details: How NOT to Sweat the Small Stuff

Stress does not have to rule you. 

Nearly all of us experience anxiety and stress at one point or another, but extreme or prolonged stress can lead to some pretty serious health problems. WebMD lists symptoms that can result from stress such as headaches, stomach issues, high blood pressure, chest pain, decreased libido, insomnia, depression, and panic attacks. Healthline points out the major signs of anxiety and the associated factors that put your health at risk. 

Anxiety and stress are serious conditions. 

Of course, we can’t eliminate stress and anxiety altogether. There will always be stressful circumstances that are out of our control. However, I’ve found some methods that help me not to sweat the small stuff, reduce that stress and eliminate some anxiety. Note: These methods do require a bit of mental strength – I can’t offer any other tips than to control (or learn to control) your own thoughts more effectively. 

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I don’t dwell on (some of) the details. As a co-owner of my husband’s startup business, with 19 employees under our responsibility, and about 200 clients to serve I have a lot of stress on a daily basis. In order to maintain my sanity, I have learned that focusing on the details of a situation can amplify my anxiety, so sometimes; I need to choose to ignore them. In the past, I would be pretty involved with any project that crossed my desk – even if it wasn’t my responsibility. These days, I have to make the mental choice NOT to bug our developers about a website change a client mistakenly sent to me, for example. Once it’s been passed along to the correct person, I have to make myself forget about it.

Re-thinking is not an option. Second- and triple-guessing myself is something that I used to do a lot. That, and worrying about the ‘what-ifs’. As my work life has become more and more busy, that kind of thought-behavior does nothing except increase my anxiety. When considering new software tools to use on our clients’ behalf, I need to know all the important information, but I can’t afford to dither on the decision. When clients are late on making payments that directly affect our ability to pay our bills, the best I can do is gently remind them once or twice throughout the month, and leave it at that. It’s still a struggle to keep my mind from ‘going there’ and re-thinking a decision or trying a new tactic to encourage payments, but my anxiety is definitely reduced if I keep my thoughts in line with the decision I’ve made, or choose a “It will happen when it happens, I’ve done all I can do” mentality. 

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Ask questions to determine importance/priority. I have learned that there are very few emergencies. It’s important to take a moment and consider the real importance or priority of a decision, task, communication, etc. To alleviate my anxiety and stress, I have learned to ask myself this variation of a common list of related questions:

  • Does this need to be handled?
  • Does it need to be handled by me?
  • Does this need to be handled by me NOW?

If the answer to all of the above isn’t ‘yes’, I pass the item on to the correct person (if applicable), or if it is my responsibility, I flag the email or make a note and deal with the problem, question, email or task when the answer to all three is ‘yes’.

I hope this helps you not to sweat the small stuff, and eliminate at least some of the things that cause you stress and anxiety. If you have other ideas for ways to reduce anxiety, please share!

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