We’ve all heard it before: don’t sweat the small stuff. In fact, you may have even seen a book about it in the bathroom of a friends house, or in the waiting room at the chiropractor’s office. The term is cliché, but as with most clichés, it garnered that status because of its inarguable truth.
Don’t do it. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Want to know why? Because if you do, it will slowly pile up on your shoulders and in your heart until there is no room for anything else, and you will be left with only a large pile of tiny useless things that are now taking up all your energy. A big mess that does nothing but hurt your shoulders and make you a bit snappy.
This is particularly true for women—the holders of households and mothers of many. As a woman myself (and both a mother and a daughter), I have seen the truth of this statement in action over and over again—day after day, year after year, generation after generation. Women do a lot of small stuff. We keep track of a lot of small stuff. And truth be told, a lot of it can get stressful, despite our best intentions. There are errands to run and as simple as that sounds, it really isn’t. There is gas to be pumped, kids to pick up and drop off, a post office line to stand in, groceries to be bought and a budget to stick to. There is traffic to sit in and places to be late to. Sometimes even getting to a yoga class can be ironically stressful. I mean you gotta feed the kids or the dogs (or yourself!), run off to class, get there in time, and run back. I bet a lot of you women out there know the feeling. All this is not even including work and domestic life—the scheduling, the cleaning, the laundry, the cooking (oh, the cooking!). Leading a harmonious life is not as simple as one might hope.
Time and time again, I watch mothers and women suffer in the small things. The things pile up and create stress. They feel urgent even if they aren’t. The to-do list grows, and the bathroom remains uncleaned for yet another week. The clean laundry sits untouched, with family members pulling clean socks out of it like ripe blackberries from a bush.
After many years and much observation and research, I’ve come to realize that the solution to all of this isn’t crossing more things off the list. One can try to pare down the list but the secret really lies in letting go of how much weight we give the list. Are these things truly important? And how do we measure importance? If you think of a task and you feel yourself constrict, that’s a reminder to look at that thing and see if it’s worth stressing about. Most likely, it isn’t. Imagine if you could let go of all those small things! How much love and energy would you free up? I’m guessing it would be a lot. There would be expansion of the heart, a deepening of the breath, a softening of the shoulders.
Exactly how does one go about this? Mindfulness is helpful. Being in the moment and noticing your body is a good start. There are other tools that can help as well. An occasional dose of cannabis can work wonders for this Small Stuff Syndrome. It truly proves its medicinal powers in this arena, lending itself to decreased anxiety and a perspective-adjustment that results in a clearer prioritization of what really matters: love, family, kindness. If us women and mamas need anything, I know that a swift purge of all the trappings and stress of daily life can be totally priceless; it leads to increased connection with loved ones, deeper rest and better sleep, and enhanced productivity throughout the following days. And with all of it in the world, this is how we can change things, starting in our homes. It’s like Mother Theresa said: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home, and love your family.”