155. How to Cope with Emotional Fender Benders

Death, divorce, or disease may top the list of major stressors, but a pileup of minor hassles can be just as stressful. Those petty annoyances and irritations—like waiting in line, getting overcharged by the dry cleaner, or tripping over your kid’s skateboard for the hundredth time—can leave you tense or frustrated. But like death and taxes, minor hassles are equally impossible to avoid.

What you need are ways to buffer their impact. One survey found that people most frequently shield themselves against these kinds of stresses by:

  1. Sharing their feelings with a spouse or romantic partner.

  2. Sharing their feelings with friends.

  3. Completing a task that gives them satisfaction.

  4. Getting enough sleep.

  5. Maintaining good health.

To further offset the emotional damage wrought by minor hassles, think of things that are going right. Ask yourself:

  1. Did you hear any good news today?

  2. Did you arrive anywhere on time—or earlier than expected?

  3. Did anything you were expecting to receive arrive on time?

  4. Did anyone pay you a compliment?

Focusing on the positive in this way is good psychological protection against the effects of chronic stress.

Chapter 6
  1. Success Over Stress