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From “OMG!” to “It’s Okay”

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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The art of living stress-free is relatively simple in principle but ridiculously difficult in practice – especially for those who get freaked out easily. But difficult does not mean impossible. So, here are some ideas for those of you who yearn to live a less stressful life.

1. Few things in life truly matter past the moment.
Many parents are great at telling their kids that what stresses them out is not really a big deal. Your daughter’s having a bad hair day; your son’s team lost a game; your kid got an unfair detention. As adults, we can appreciate that though these are unpleasant moments, they’re not the end of the world. We’re wise enough to know that even though our child’s angst is real, letting the stress go sooner rather than later would make their life so much better.

Great advice! But how smart are you with your own difficult moments? Do you remind yourself that it’s no big deal when you’re stuck in traffic; when you can’t find what you’re looking for; when your spouse arrives home late? Or, do you get yourself frenzied during these moments? Then, feel even more upset when being upset doesn’t solve anything, just prolongs the pain?

Now, I’m not saying that nothing matters. But too often, we put excessive emphasis on events which are not very significant. Picture yourself a year from now. What stressful moments today will be of any significance to you in September, 2018?

2. Relax and let go; life is not about having it all or getting it all done.
Many adults rush through their lives frantically, trying to have it all, get it all, own it all. Then, after they have it, they don’t appreciate it. They still want more. This obsession-driven orientation is a prescription for mega-stress - for you as well as for who live and work with you. You get up early, stay up late, fill up every moment of every day. You push loved ones to do their best and are disappointed when they don’t. You’re rarely satisfied with them, with yourself, your career, your home, your body, and, of course, your golf game.

Remind yourself that life is not about having it all. Or, getting it all done. Life is not a race in which you have to come in first. More is not always better. Quantity never replaces quality. Regardless of who you are or what you do, what’s most significant is how you and your loved ones experience life. Are you enjoying the day? Are you appreciating each other? Are you taking time to slow down and breathe? And relax? And let go of your worries? And taper off thoughts that wind you up? And wind down to get in touch with the deepest, wisest parts of your mind?

3. People are not thinking about you as much as you think they are.
If you worry about saying something stupid, wearing the wrong clothes, forgetting to do the right thing, writing a foolish post on Facebook, getting a less than sterling evaluation, it’s time to let go of those thoughts! Though it’s true that some people are gigantic gossipers, they are primarily concerned with themselves. Yes, they may talk about you. So what? Pretty soon, you’ll become yesterday’s news. Then, they’ll go back to their own lives and find someone else to gossip about.

Okay, that’s my advice for you. Put into practice these ideas and your world will change. No, it won’t be easy. But one step at a time will get you there. So let’s begin. How about thinking right now about what’s working well in your life. What you’re grateful for. How lucky you’ve been. Keep focusing on the positive and don’t be surprised if instead of freaking out next time things don’t go your way, you’ll slow down, relax and take it all in stride!

Copyright © 2017: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.
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