It’s easy to get caught up in the little grievances in life, but at some point, you’ve got to stop, take a step back, and focus on the bigger picture.
We have enough stress on our plates with long working hours, the rising cost of living, and post-pandemic residue still lingering around. Add in the various wars going on in the world and it’s easy to tip over the edge.
So with that in mind, here are 10 things to stop stressing about because, in the long run, they simply don’t matter.
P.S. – if you’re an overthinker/worrier like me, you’ll benefit from this list.
Let’s dive in:
1) Other people’s opinions
It’s natural to care about other people’s opinions of you, but it shouldn’t hold you back from living your best life.
I get how hard it is to stop giving a crap, though, as I come from a community where the most common phrase you’ll ever hear is:
“But what will people say?!”
Over the years, I’ve realized that no matter what you do, someone will always have something negative to say.
So it’s best to just live life on your terms.
Don’t worry about the neighbors. Don’t pay attention to those nasty relatives.
People who genuinely love and care for you will continue doing so, regardless of whether they like your choice of hairstyle or partner.
So you do you and forget about the rest. Put it this way:
You don’t want to look back in 30 years and realize you based your life decisions on what other people think.
2) Mistakes you’ve made in the past
You know those nights where you can’t sleep and you end up replaying every embarrassing, terrible thing you’ve ever done in your life?
It’s like a horror movie you can’t switch off.
Yeah…let’s stop that from today onwards.
I used to torture myself with regrets. Mistakes I’d made. Times when I could have tried harder.
But ultimately, we can’t change the past, so what’s the point in stressing over it?
You won’t get anywhere.
Instead, take a different approach – learn from your mistakes.
Sit down, think about the situation and what you could have done better. Then mentally imagine if you faced a similar situation in the future, how would you handle it?
This is far more beneficial than remaining stuck in the past, driving yourself crazy over memories that can’t be changed.
Most of us want to do well at whatever we put our minds to. But at what cost?
If perfection is what you strive for, and it causes you genuine stress, it might be time to reevaluate your mindset and priorities.
The truth is, by chasing perfection, you’re putting yourself under unnecessary pressure.
When actually, all that really matters is trying hard and being consistent.
For example, I remember when my colleague and I were each tasked with pitching a new concept to our employer (back in the day, before I became a writer).
I did what I could and came up with an engaging presentation. I didn’t go overboard, but I just made sure I knew the facts and key selling points.
My colleague, on the other hand, completely flopped her pitch. She had meticulously planned every detail. She’d stayed up multiple nights to perfect her presentation.
Even the color scheme was on point (matched smartly to her outfit, of course).
But when the day came, she was so exhausted that her mind kept going blank.
So the next time you keep pushing and pushing and pushing yourself to be “the best” or “perfect” at whatever you’re doing, remember, it’s not worth your health.
And sometimes, “good enough” really is enough.
4) The future
I won’t lie, the future shits me up too.
It’s the fear of the unknown, of not being sure where I’ll be in the next 5, 10 or 15 years.
But, stressing over it is something I’m actively working on.
I’m sure, like you, I’ve spent hours pondering over what the future could bring and how I’d hypothetically deal with it when it arrives.
But in the long run, what will it change?
Life happens no matter how much we plan and prepare for it. Changes in direction come when we least expect them.
And ultimately, all we’re doing is losing out on the present moment.
One thing I’ve started doing to combat falling into the “dark hole” as I call it, is redirecting my focus whenever I feel myself starting to think of the future.
I use the “5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique” designed for those with anxiety, but it works for anyone who just needs grounding in the moment. So, when you feel yourself spiraling, try focusing on:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Give it a go, you might find it helpful.
5) Material possessions
I know it sucks when you can’t get the latest car or iPhone, but let me ask you this:
In the grand scheme of life, are these material items really important?
Sure, they make you feel good for a while.
But they aren’t the be-all and end-all of life. They’re certainly not something to stress over.
Love, connection, safety, purpose, and health – these are the things we should put our focus on.
Without those, life really isn’t worth living. Material possessions, on the other hand, come and go.
You’ll probably find that if you master the art of not giving a shit about other people’s opinions (as I covered in the first point), letting go of needing more material possessions will come easier as a result.
6) Social media
Ah, another thing I’m also working on.
Social media is great for some things, but terrible for others. And when it comes to stress, well, I think it does more bad than good.
Let’s be honest, aside from a few genuinely, interesting pages, 95% of social media is made up of influencers.
People whose job is to make their lives look perfect. Where does that leave us?
Feeling bad about our tiny homes, average cars, and passable looks.
But the thing I really want to put across today is that most of what we see on social media is FAKE.
We’re literally out here getting stressed over things that aren’t even real!
Let that sink in for a minute.
I’ve made a vow to cut down on my screen time, and it’s already making me feel more relaxed and happy. I think you should try it too.
7) Being busy
Our culture often promotes always being productive.
We feel like we need to be on the go all the time. Always doing something.
If we’re not working, we’re focussing on our side hustles.
When we’re not doing that, we’re desperately trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day and work out.
But all of this can lead to a shit ton of stress…and eventually, burnout.
This is your reminder that it’s absolutely okay to do nothing.
Do things that aren’t productive. Laze around in your pajamas. Watch the leaves blow about in the garden. Spend time doing nothing but chatting with friends or family.
Anything but stress over being busy.
Because in the long run, it’s not the memories of work that stay with us, it’s the moments in between.
My mom’s best friend is obsessed with aging. For as long as I can remember, she’s been buying the latest creams and doing whatever she can to keep the gray hairs and wrinkles at bay.
But here’s what’s always struck me as odd:
She actually looks older than most women her age. And I think the reason why is that she’s constantly stressed over her appearance.
My mom, on the other hand, has literally used the same face wash and cream for the last 20 years and her skin is glowing. She’s accepted growing old gracefully and it shows.
Whenever I notice a change in my appearance, I remind myself that growing old is a luxury not everyone is lucky enough to experience.
That usually calms my worries and allows me to focus on other, more important things.
9) What you can’t control
And finally, stop stressing over things you can’t control.
It’s similar to what I mentioned about the future – you don’t gain anything except raised blood pressure and exhaustion.
In life, there’s actually very little we do have control over. Mostly, it falls down to how we react to the situations the world puts us in.
So by all means, work on that. On being a calm, clear-headed, sensible person. Someone who can ride those waves smoothly when the time comes.
But don’t fixate on situations that you can’t do anything about.
Recently, with the conflict between Israel and Palestine, I noticed some of my family getting incredibly involved and upset. They were checking the news constantly.
I had to remind them that aside from donating, campaigning for peace, and lobbying politicians, there’s little else they can do.
And losing their health over something so much bigger than any of us is simply not worth it.
So, I hope this article has reminded you to focus more on the big picture and less on stressing over things you can’t change.
Remember, a shift in your mindset won’t happen overnight, but with baby steps and consistency, you’ll get there.