Don’t sweat the small stuff

Kelly Smith

Are you the type of person who becomes anxious easily in life? Do the smallest things give you a headache? Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by everything going on in life? I’ve often come across times when everything that’s going on seems to just bear right down on me and cause me all sorts of grief. So I’m speaking mainly from experience when I say that it’s important for our mental well-being to learn how to manage our stress so it doesn’t take control over us.

The way I see it, it’s kind of like storing things on a computer. The more you have saved on your hard drive, the slower your computer will act. Another way it tends to slow down and start crashing is if you overuse it, right? Even the smallest tasks can become tedious work to your browser if it has to handle handfuls of them at once. So the key is to manage your documents and usage well to make sure the computer can keep up with you.

That’s how I would relate problems with anxiety and worry, because after all, your brain operates similar to a computer in some ways. If you spend too much time focusing on every little unnecessary detail, it’ll build up and start crashing your brain, so to speak.

As I said, I speak from experience. We all get those assignments where even though we’re pretty sure we know the instructions, there’s enough doubt for us to constantly second-guess ourselves, which typically leads to the classic worry of “What if it’s not good enough?” I’ve done that many times. In fact, sometimes I’ve submitted Blackboard assignments at literally the last minute because I’ve spent so much extra time being a perfectionist about something that probably would’ve been at least decent enough to begin with.

And it’s not just school work. It can be any small annoyance that you don’t deal with and move on from. If you’ve got a paper to write and need a school computer, that might not be too bad if that’s your only point of stress. But if you slipped on ice, had to wait for ten minutes for a bus, and then realized you forgot something important at your dorm, that’ll make things even worse, won’t it?

And I’m not acting like it’s uncommon for people to be annoyed at things like that. But if that irritation sticks around when you finally get to do your assignment, your attitude will give you writer’s block and slow you down even more.

Stress can be good if used the right way, because you realize that something isn’t right and needs to be fixed or taken care of. But too much stress is completely counter-productive in many ways. In fact, I believe that those unpleasant moments in life are a test of patience. I’m not always the best at being on time to an 8:30 a.m. class, and when it becomes apparent that I will be a few minutes late, I tend to imagine it having severe consequences ranging from embarrassment to grade deductions. Yet, in many of those circumstances, the professor would greet me with a smile and say something like, “Glad you made it.”

Although it’s common for us to want to worry about things a lot, I believe that should not be the case. I think worry, anxiety, and excessive stress will cause only harm in both the short and long run. Sometimes life happens, and all we can do is shrug it off and keep on moving. And chances are people will be more understanding than we often like to think.