Not letting little things bother you is a crucial piece of living a healthy life, both physically and mentally. When we're able to release small annoyances and stop ourselves from getting upset when little things go wrong, we're better able to focus on the things that actually matter, and we're even able to release tension in our bodies.
That being said, letting things go is often easier said than done, so use these 10 tips to get a little bit better at it.
1. Ask yourself: Will this matter a year from now?
When we're caught up in the small stuff, one of the most grounding questions we can ask ourselves is whether this will matter a year from now, or even tomorrow or next week. For example, imagine someone cuts you off on your drive to work. It makes sense that you feel angry in the moment, but chances are you won't even remember it happened by next week — so why let it bother you now?
This is less of an "in the moment" practice, and more of a practice that can help you feel calm and even throughout the day. Meditation trains our brains to be present, rather than dwelling on the past or future, so by practicing it regularly you'll become better able to let go of what's bothering you and stay in the moment.
3. Distract yourself
Distraction isn't always the answer, but it is sometimes. If you're having a hard time letting something go, a healthy distraction can help take the focus away from whatever is bothering you. Call a friend, exercise, cook a nourishing meal, put on your favorite song. When your mind is occupied by something else — and preferably something that brings you joy — it's hard to focus on that little thing that's bringing you down.
4. Take action
If something is bothering you, ask yourself if there's an action step there. For example, say you had a tense exchange with a coworker, and you can't stop ruminating on it. Consider shooting your coworker a friendly note apologizing, or asking to talk to further to clear the air.
5. Journal on it
One tactic meditation experts typically suggest for people who have a hard time getting certain thoughts out of their heads while meditating is to write down what they're thinking about. This can apply to letting go of something, too: If you journal on it, you may be able to get it out of your mind.
6. Go to bed early — or take a nap
If you can't let go of something that's bothering you, sleep may be the answer. If it's nighttime, try going to bed early. If your schedule allows for it, take a short nap. Sleep deprivation can make us lose perspective on what's actually important, so getting some extra rest can help.
Sleep can be a great way to get some perspective quickly.
7. Acknowledge when something is out of your control
Earlier, we suggested taking action. And when you can, that's great. But there are other times when something is just completely out of your control. When you're honest with yourself about the things you can't change, you may find that little things stop bothering you quite as much.
8. Talk to someone
Friends are great, and there's nothing wrong with leaning on them. But sometimes, you need a neutral party who can help you talk through those little things that are bothering you. A trained mental health professional will not only help you get some perspective, but provide you with tools that can help you let things go.
9. Practice gratitude
When people have a regular gratitude practice, their brains learn to "scan" for gratitude. This means that while many of us have a natural negativity bias, people with a gratitude practice are able to see the good more easily. As a result, they're not as bothered by little things going wrong.
10. Take a breath
As simple as it is, a deep breath can be very grounding and healing. So the next time you find yourself spiraling about something that's bothering you, stop, close your eyes, and breathe. You may find that a deep breath is all you need to get some perspective and move on.
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