7 Little Things You Didn't Realize Are Stressing You Out, And How To Keep Calm In Spite Of Them

by Lindsay E. Mack

Coping with major life changes, like moving across the country or starting a new career, are guaranteed to cause major stress. But it’s life’s little things that cause serious stress to amount over the course of the day, without you being aware of it. Hunting for your keys in an overstuffed purse, sitting in traffic for an hour, and combating your ever-growing email inbox is definitely not the most relaxing way to kick off a Tuesday morning. So what can you do to ward off these little annoyances?

Though it may be tempting to just say, “eff this,” and go live in a remote cabin in the woods somewhere, most of us would rather learn to cope with the little stresses inherent in modern daily life. Some expected tips, such as getting enough sleep on a consistent basis and paying attention to your body’s needs, are to be expected, but there have also been some surprising findings about the effects of boring commutes, Pinterest overload, and even secondhand stress. So here is a quick rundown of some surprisingly everyday causes of stress, as well as tips on the best ways to cope with them.


You Have Too Much Stuff

While retail therapy is a time-tested way of busting stress, the aftereffects of all that shopping can actually stress you out more. Owning too much stuff can lead to stress because all that clutter eventually has to be dealt with and maintained. Maintaining a more minimalistic lifestyle can actually help you be happier overall.


You Ignore Your Body

Falling out of sync with your body’s responses can also cause stress. If you power through some hunger pangs, for example, you’re only hurting yourself overall (and getting hangry, which no one wants to see happen.) To overcome this habit, try out some mindfulness training which will help you stay in tune with your ever-changing body.


You Go Into Social Media Overload

Back in the day, people used to worry about “keeping up with the Joneses,” usually close neighbors or friends. But thanks to the proliferation of social media, those Joneses – with their perfectly iced cupcakes and adorable bento lunch boxes – are EVERYWHERE. If you’re stressed out by your Pinterest fails, it may help to cut back on your social media exposure a bit.


You’re Not Sleeping Enough

No one would expect to be particularly happy after an all-nighter, but consistently getting too little sleep every night can also cause stress. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, adults who sleep less than 8 hours a night report higher levels of stress than those who get the recommended amount of shut eye. Try implementing a few doctor-approved tips for falling asleep and getting the rest your body needs.  


You Spend a Lot of Time Commuting

Some people have nightmare commutes that take hours each day, so this is not news to them. But even people with more manageable drive may find commuting stressful because it's time-consuming and downright boring. To keep your mind in a happy place even when your body is stuck in traffic, try out some great podcasts or audiobooks.  


You Have an Email Addiction

That little ding indicating a new message’s arrival is helpful,  but checking email too often can cause stress by distracting your attention and actually making you less productive. Unfortunately, you can’t ignore these messages so it’s important to learn how to manage your inbox and get your email habit in check.


You Deal With Other People’s Stress

Stress can be contagious, so if your buddy is going through a tough time at work, you may also feel overwhelmed and anxious. To deal with this secondhand stress without seeming unsympathetic, work on maintaining healthy boundaries and remain aware of what you can — and can’t — realistically do for those around you.

Images: Syda Productions/Fotolia; Courtesy of  Alex, Mislav Marohnić, Jason Howie,Ella Mullins, Keng Susumpow,Kārlis Dambrāns, Benjamin Watson / Flickr