It happens to all of us at one point or another.
Something stressful happens and instead of stepping back and gaining some perspective before reacting, we allow our minds to take the situation and run with it.
It gains so much momentum that pretty soon something which, upon further inspection, is really not a huge deal, has turned into a massive point of stress that seems impossible to deal with.
I used to do this regularly (haven't we all?), but I started implementing a strategy back when I was in high school that really helped me, and still continues to do so.
Before reading Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, I never had a name for this strategy. In his book I was pleased to see Carlson mention the exact strategy I have been using for years and give it a perfectly fitting name: Time Warp.
Time Warp works like this: take the stressful situation you are experiencing and ask yourself if it will matter a year from now.
Sometimes of course the answer is yes; however, often the things that feel like a really big deal won’t actually matter a short time from now. Asking ourselves this question when we start getting worked up allows us to gain some much-needed perspective.
Growing up, something embarrassing would happen and it felt like the end of the world. Over time I slowly learned that those “really embarrassing” things were forgotten by most within the week. In high school to keep myself from stressing out every time something happened, I started asking myself that exact question: “will this matter in a year?”
The answer was almost always no.
With that “no” in mind, it is so much easier to say to yourself “this isn’t really a big deal, stop worrying so much.”
As we get older things get more complicated. Sometimes what feels like a big deal really is a big deal and needs to be handled with care. However, most of the time it’s not.
Maybe you got rejected for that job you reallywanted. Your kid got suspended. You and your spouse got into a heated argument. You rear ended someone.
Instead of allowing yourself to get worked up about these types of situations, recognize them for what they are: small stuff. Things that, in the grand scheme of things, are just a little blip in the entirety of your life.
Use them as learning and growth opportunities.
When we allow ourselves to stress over these things we are wasting precious time and energy.
Stress too much, too often, and you can quite literally make yourself physically ill.
So next time something unfortunate happens, before you react, take a step back. Ask “will this matter in a year?”
Doing this will help you gain perspective on what is really worth your mental energy.
You’ll be amazed how much of your stress ends up being “small stuff”.
**For similar tips about how to handle everyday stress, check out Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. By ordering through our link please note that we receive a small commission, but we never promote items that we have not first tried, used, and loved.
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