‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’

I remember being a little girl when I first heard the phrase, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, and I didn’t get it. My grandfather (who passed of cancer many years ago, but manages to sneak into my mind pretty often) first told me that when I was around my son’s age now. I was 7 or 8, and we were talking about a project that I had to do for school, and I was quite concerned about whether I was going to do it right. He felt I was taking the whole thing way too seriously for such a young age (admittedly I was quite the stress case for a little kid) and while he loved my passion and drive, he worried about my little heart and soul, and knew I needed to learn to relax about things. And so he told me not to sweat the small stuff. Of course, I didn’t get it, and even if I did, I don’t think I knew how to make that a part of my spirit, but I’m sure I nodded and said ok, and mumbled something that made him happy and changed the subject.

As it turns out, that life lesson is one I would turn to throughout my life…

This weekend as we worked on our yard (it was a beautiful weekend in Austin, more reminiscent of spring than winter) I thought about good fortune; about how lucky I am to have a family full of love, a home that is perfectly sweet and exactly what we hoped for, a tiny dog that barks a little too much but is so darn cute we forgive her, and so I made a mental note to give thanks for all that I’m lucky enough to have. And just as I’m in the midst of this awe inspiring, self-aware moment, my little 7 year old comes running out in a panic about something that hardly warrants a panic. But in his little mind, ‘it’s a HUGE deal mom!’ And what do I find myself trying to explain to him in this moment? Yep, the same lesson as my grandfather tried to teach me some 28 years prior; that life is a blend of both big and small deals, and that if you use all your energy on the small ones, you won’t have any left to handle the big ones. And what did I learn in that moment from him? That to a 7 year old, everything is a big deal!

Of course, the beauty of a 7 year old’s mind is it’s easily sidetracked, and so with a little effort, I can pull him away from the drama of the moment and we’re back on track.

So what does this mean in regards to health and wellness?

A lot in my opinion. I’m a firm believer that many of our health struggles are aggravated by stress, and the inability to manage it (stress) properly. When we suffer traumatic events in life, or endure times of greater emotional and mental stress, the fact that many of us never quite learned how to process the related emotions mean that we internalize our fears and slowly develop more and more negative energy; this leads to a decreased ability to process each new stressor as they arise.

In my case, I figured it out pretty quickly; I quit my job (major change!) and started making some smaller changes that would eventually help me to find my way clear of it all. But to be honest, when you’re in the midst of it all, it can be hard to see clear through the smaller moments and realize they aren’t as monumental as they feel. So I look in my son’s face, and know that this moment is terrifying to him; will I pull his tooth out creating more pain than his little mind can hanlde? Of course not, but thats what he’s envisioning. And so I divert his attention to something else, we start working on his school project, and he soon has the courage to let me try to gently tug it free.

With a dangling tooth still intact, he realizes that it wasn’t that bad. And so another life lesson occurs. Another moment to relax, breathe, and not sweat the small stuff has come and gone.