Life Hack: Don’t Make a Small Problem Big

The Boozy Gardener has had a rough week. Luckily, it’s Miller Time.

Or Walking Dead Cab time.

Yesterday turned out to be difficult to navigate. Anything that could go wrong, did. I won’t tell you about every obstacle that I had to crush like the boss I am, but I will tell a pertinent anecdote related to today’s blog topic.

The day started promising. I woke up early enough to write before work and even left a touch early to get to a recruiting event and give my biggest presentation yet. Necessary backstory: My car needs repaired (suck), but my dad was kind enough to both drop my car off at the mechanic AND loan me his car (awesome). Thus, I was driving his car to work yesterday A.M.

Those of you familiar with foreshadowing likely see where this is going. Don’t spoil it for everyone else.

As I was backing out of my drive, I realized I had left my suitcase full of recruiting materials in the CRV. I called my parents in a near panic only to discover that they had already delivered Ava to the repair shop (damn early risers).

I started to freak out but forced myself to repeat this mantra: “Don’t make a small problem big.” In the past, I would have floored it to the repair shop, weaving in and out of traffic, feeling my anxiety and anger rise with every traffic light and safe driver. Worst case scenarios, I’d cause an accident or get pulled over. Best case scenario? My stress level would be so high that I would flub my presentation.

My mantra helped me remain calm until I saw a train blocking my path. I felt my anger rise until I looked to my left and noticed that a woman had driven into a ditch while trying to turn around too quickly to avoid the train.

That poor soul had made a small problem big. Now, instead of waiting a few extra minutes for a train, she would be massively late, have to pay a tow truck driver, and may have done real damage to her car.

Let me lower your stress level. As I passed her later, someone was helping her from the ditch, and I was only five minutes late to my recruiting event. I also killed my presentation (I even got some applause from some overly enthusiastic high schoolers).

The woman in the red van’s dilemma, and my own low-level anxiety, reminded me of just how often we transform small inconveniences into massive issues. IMG_5581.PNGWhen we let small inconveniences anger, irritate, or stress us out, we lose the ability to think clearly. When we do that, we start to make rash, reactive decisions that can often to lead to larger issues.

It takes some practice, but when I find myself blowing small problems out of proportion, I check in with my body. Often, I notice that my shoulders have crept around my ears and that my breathing is shallow. I relax my body, take some calming breaths, and then start to think through the situation. If I am five or ten minutes late, what will ACTUALLY happen? I’m not driving somewhere to perform life-saving surgery on a toddler. I’m giving a presentation about our university. If I apologize (and don’t make tardiness a habit), people will understand and the world will move on.

As our week winds down, I challenge you, dear readers, to remain calm in the face of adversity. I also ask you to share your favorite way to relax when faced with spilled coffee, a sick dog, or a snappish spouse. Comment below!

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