The Self-Help Saga


The Self-Help Saga
Rich shows off her book of the week.

Juggling too many things at once can lead to drowning in a sea of frustration. Anxiety builds, emotions start swarming and before students know it, the little things begin eating away at them and consuming every fiber of their being. 

Everyone sweats the small stuff, however, what matters is how the situation is handled. The key is to acknowledge the situation without letting it destroy the rest of your day. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

How to react mindfully: 

Reacting mindfully when life seems to be falling apart is the best thing that one can probably do when it comes to the small stuff in life. Sometimes it is frustrating when even those small things cannot go right in our lives. After all, reacting to stressors in the moment is just what everyone is programmed to do. 

Recall what values are important to you in your life. The easiest thing to do is to close your eyes, take a deep breath and allow your mind to become blank. Find a serene space for the mind to rest and find a steady ground. This is the best way to remain calm and float back down to reality. 

Sweating the small stuff is also an indicator that someone may be doing too much throughout their day. Feeling overwhelmed can automatically cause heightened emotions and can cause one to lash out even for the smallest of frustrations. Take time to acknowledge if you are overfilling your schedule and see if there is something that can be done about it. 

Also, do not ignore the larger issues that may be present. Most often, people overreact when they are suppressing situations, feelings or unresolved conflicts in their lives. The best way to react mindfully is to assess the situation and become aware of the conflicts that you may be experiencing. That is the first step in the right direction to stop sweating the small stuff. 

How to stop wasting time on minor annoyances:

I will be the first one to say that I bottle up every single annoyance there is until a part of me just wants to explode. It is not fair to myself and to others to not voice all of my negativity and bottle it up inside. Also, it is just an unhealthy thing to do. 

The easiest way I have found to stop wasting time on minor annoyances is to air them out as soon as they happen. Writing down negative or annoyed thoughts on a piece of paper, tearing it up and then throwing it away is a fantastic way to stop letting these annoyances get to you. Plus, it benefits the mind to physically see these grievances thrown away because as they say, out of sight, out of mind. 

Personally, I also love to put things into perspective. I would like to say that this is perhaps the thing I have the hardest time doing because I, like most people, hold myself to high standards. If I fail a test, I automatically think that it is the end of the world. If I mess up a combination in ballet class, I am hard on myself because I know I can do better. 

But do you want the truth? None of that will matter in a month from now, in a year from now or in five years from now. In high school, I thought failing my calculus tests was the end of the world and now I am here, a junior in college, with an entirely opposite degree living my best academic life. That time I forgot my dance solo in my first year of college? I do not think of it every time I dance like I thought I would. 

Remember that you too deserve the benefit of the doubt and are allowed to feel annoyed, frustrated and upset at situations that happen. The best way to stop sweating these challenges is by thinking about if they will matter in the long run or if keeping them bottled up does anything for you. A majority of the time you will not remember them anyhow in years to come. 

How to look for all of the little things that make you feel grateful:  

As I mentioned last week, it is always important to think about what we have to be grateful about in life. Was there ever a time when you wished you were where you are now? Was there ever a time in your life where your goals felt impossible to achieve and yet you achieved them anyways? 

Gratitude is an incredible thing and is extremely powerful when it comes to not sweating the little things. Practicing shifting focus to all that you can be grateful for is a perfect exercise for anyone who is struggling to see the bright side of things. 

Having a terrible day and your order from Starbucks gets messed up? Think back to a time where you perhaps were not able to afford something like that with your own money. Is your car having problems? Think back to a time where you were not able to have a car. 

When the feeling of annoyance and frustration is beating down upon you, make the active decision not to dwell on it. Allowing it to ruffle your feathers will only make the day worse. Besides, who needs that negativity anyhow, certainly, not you. 

Weekly book and song recommendations to get back into reading: 

A perfect book that helped me to not sweat the small stuff was, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. This has been one of my favorite books for years now and made me feel incredibly fortunate for what I have right now.

 Though, it made me much more aware of political climates, I feel as though this book is a perfect reminder of what we have in our lives and how we should sometimes feel grateful over what we have.

This book is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be the United States. Offred is the central character in the book and is one of the “handmaids” who is forced to produce children for the “commanders,” who are the ruling class in Gilead. 

I had the pleasure of seeing Atwood when she came to campus last spring and I obtained a signed copy of the book. I also was fortunate to listen to her speak for an hour and a half about her writing process of the book and had the wonderful opportunity to ask her questions. Shoutout to our campus’ English department, you rock! 

The song that spoke to me for the song suggestion of the week is “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” by Panic! At the Disco. This song tells the story of a man who deals with two moral struggles at once. Kind of relevant, kind of not, however, who does not love some good old 2011 alternative to make us forget about the small stuff.