Part of dealing with stressors is accepting they’ll always be there, and letting some of them go. “There are enough larger things that come across our plate to worry about, so we really have to challenge whether something is worth our time and energy,” Nikki Martinez, psychologist and licensed clinical professional counselor, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. “If we spend too much energy on the little things that don’t really matter, we have little to nothing left for the bigger things that really require our energy and attention.” Think you might be letting little frustrations get to you? Here are 11 you’re free to ignore.
Of course, no one wants to be wrong — whether it’s their opinion on politics or which movie should have won the Academy Award. But oftentimes, the desire to constantly be right will leave you high and dry. “It’s important to evaluate the cost of being right,” Robin H-C, behaviorist and bestselling author of Life’s in Session!, said. “If you’re in a medical environment discussing patient care, ‘right’ is critical, but if you’re bickering with your partner over how late they arrived home last week, is it really necessary to be right?” Instead, consider what it will cost you to be right — a good night’s sleep, a rift in your relationship, etc. If it won’t matter in a year or month from now, let it go.
2. Stressful news feeds
With the 24-hour news cycle blaring at us from all devices and social platforms, it’s easy to get fed up with everything landing on the front page of our news feed, especially when it comes to politics. “Regardless of your political affiliation, if it’s zapping your energy, you’re likely angry at the politicians or folks on the other side of the aisle,” Aimee Bernstein, psychotherapist and author of Stress Less. Achieve More., told us. “You can go on with your rant, but the truth is you can’t control or influence any of it, so take a step back.”
Think about how much time, if any, you have to dedicate to protesting or volunteering against whatever it is that’s bothering you. Unless you’re ready to take a stand, let it go.
3. Constantly evolving technology
Technology is changing so fast these days, it’s hard for anyone to keep up. Unless you’re super tech-savvy or have a job in the space, it’s easy to get frustrated when new and improved devices kick out their not-so-old predecessors — just when they felt normal. “In this day and age of accelerated change, we all need to be lifelong learners,” Bernstein said. “Instead of expecting too much of yourself or trying to learn in big chunks, have a tech-savvy friend or instructor teach you a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.” When you see yourself mastering even the simplest thing, it will build your confidence to learn.
4. Unexpected traffic making you late
Even the most punctual people do run late on occasion. In truth, all the planning in the world won’t account for a car accident or inclement weather. “There’s no sense in beating yourself up over this, raising your blood pressure, and stressing your adrenals,” H-C said. “Call whomever you are meeting, explain that you’ve run into an unexpected delay, and apologize for the inconvenience, letting them know when you will arrive.” All of that added emotional stress won’t get you there faster — it will only leave you anxious, which isn’t a good look when you do finally show up.
5. Waiting excruciatingly long for an appointment
It’s undoubtedly frustrating and annoying when you have to wait an eternity to see the doctor — especially when you’ve taken time off work or left your kids with a babysitter. But unfortunately, making a scene won’t get you on the exam table any faster. “If you traditionally wait an hour to get into a doctor’s appointment, call ahead and ask if they’re on schedule,” recommended H-C. “Bring a book, your laptop, or journal to forgo the predictable frustrations by planning to utilize your waiting time.”
6. Dealing with customer service issues
It happens to the best of us — you order a product, but it doesn’t meet your expectations when it arrives. Or, perhaps you’ve been waiting in a long line at a grocery or retail store and are frustrated with how slow the staff is taking care of customers. “You want to threaten to leave and go with the competitor, tweet it to all your followers just how incompetent the company is, etc., but the fact is a well-written complaint letter is far more impactful than an emotional tweet,” H-C explained.
7. You’re running short on time
Whether it’s trying to squeeze in everything at work or packing everything for vacation, time is hard to manage. “Most of us underestimate the amount of time things take, especially some of the more difficult tasks,” H-C explained. But focusing so much attention on how you don’t have enough time is time-consuming and counterproductive in itself. “Instead, prioritize, stay focused, and do what you can with the time you have,” H-C added.
8. Rude or impolite people
If someone around you is being unkind and taking their own unhappiness out on you, don’t let it get under your skin. Their behavior is not a reflection of you. “Do not allow someone else’s bad mood ruin your day,” said Martinez. “And try your hardest not to lash out at them in return. Instead, calmly remove yourself from the situation and wait to speak with them once they’ve calmed down.”
9. People cutting in line
“Is this rude? Yes. Thoughtless? Sure. However, this person is obviously in a hurry and feels like they have a good reason to act this way,” Martinez said. “Will it make a big difference in your day to have to wait the extra two minutes? Probably not.”
The bottom line is a person cutting in line is not worth you getting angry or starting a screaming match. Instead, let them go on with their day and take a deep breath with the knowledge that everything will be fine.
10. Careless or offensive remarks
When this happens, you have two options: sit there and stew over this person’s rudeness or realize that you determine your own worth. “If you have a strong sense of self, someone’s off-hand comment should have very little impact on you, except to reinforce that they need to put others down to make themselves feel better,” Martinez said.
11. Things not going as planned
Planning is essential for staying organized, but not everything is going to go the way you expect it to. Mayra Mendez, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, told us having a bad hair day and spilling coffee on yourself fall under this category.
“Fretting over such situations results in catastrophizing minor life experiences into major life events,” Mendez said. In other words, spending that much energy over the fact that you’re having a bad hair day keeps you from seeing the bigger picture. Mendez suggests taking a deep breath and normalizing the experience.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published May 2017.