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Why you need to stop sweating the small stuff

Deborah Hutton

5 minute read
Credit: nib health insurance

Life is full of choices and whether they’re big (should I retire?) or small (what should I cook for dinner?), you have to make them every day.

I’ve just had the joy of renovating my house and trying to choose between white paint tones almost did my head in! The whole process of building was one decision after another. There was barely an hour when I didn’t get a call or make a call, and being responsible for these decisions was empowering and overwhelming all at once.

It also made me realise just how many decisions we have to make.

Morning, noon and night, we are constantly making choices about how we live, what we say, what we eat and what we do; but when we’re so focussed on the small stuff, we often miss the big stuff and that can have serious consequences for our mind, body and soul. We can get so caught up in our minor daily struggles that it’s easy to forget to take a step back and enjoy the things we’re lucky to have.

Deborah Hutton on porch with her dog

When I find myself sweating the small stuff, I like to remind myself of the pearls of wisdom that some of my ‘Balance by Deborah Hutton’ experts have provided over the years; one in particular comes to mind from internationally acclaimed communications and performance guru, Amanda Gore.

She has some simple advice for finding joy in challenges and she’s kindly provided me with her top five commandments:

1. Thou shalt be a good finder and wear gratitude glasses

No matter what happens, or is going on, consciously choose to find something good in the situation and focus on things for which you are grateful. Gratitude is a game-changer. It reframes everything; so put those gratitude glasses on – and keep them on!

2. Thou shalt slow down and take several deep breaths

If we rush around in a state of panic, trying to satisfy everyone else’s needs, we quickly burn out. When this happens, we’re no good to anyone – especially ourselves.

3. Thou shalt do something to feel good about yourself

Feeling good about yourself is the most important thing in life… full stop! Listen to what you are saying to yourself, about yourself and about what’s surrounding you. Challenge your way of thinking if it is not positive or constructive. Most of the negative things we say to ourselves are not based in truth or fact.

4. Thou shalt learn to say ‘no’

You can do this very gently and it is actually respectful to yourself when you recognise your need for time out and give it to yourself. It may feel uncomfortable initially, especially if you have created an image for yourself where others think “we can always rely on good old to help out.” For your sanity, energy and vitality, learn to say no. If you’re struggling with that, try saying “no, not yet” as a start.

Remember when you say no, you may be helping other people develop and grow as they have to learn new skills – and you may even increase their respect of your time, energy and efforts.

5. Thou shalt surround thyself with friends and family

A social support network, like family and friends, is critical to help with many of the most important aspects of your health – mental, emotional, and psychological. People who feel lonely or isolated from family and friends become ill more often. If you do have family and friends around you, make time for them.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Did you know, the phrase ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ was first used by Dr. Robert S. Eliot and Dennis L.Breo way back in the 1980s in reference to groundbreaking studies into stress?

There is scientific evidence that suggests removing the ‘little stresses’ in your life can benefit your health.

Based on over 20 years of research with thousands of patients, in the book Is It Worth Dying For?, Cardiologist Dr. Eliot identifies that stress levels can be linked to health and disease. This book is a great resource for learning how to take care of yourself and make stress work for you, not against you.

A subsequent book by Richard Carlson PhD titled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff - and it’s all small stuff also offers practical suggestions for ways you can make daily changes to ultimately lead a calmer, less stressed and more relaxed life.

It’s as simple as taking care of yourself. So here’s your challenge for today: ask yourself ‘what small decisions can you complete, so that you can reward yourself with a walk in the sunshine, coffee with a friend or 30-minutes of peace and quiet?’

For more from Deborah Hutton, check out The Check Up’s dedicated section.

Deborah Hutton is a television presenter, former magazine editor, entrepreneur, author, speaker and Australian media personality. Facing 50 and the shock of being diagnosed with a serious skin cancer, Deborah spent more than a year assessing and redefining herself and realised along the way, women not only needed support but also wanted to connect and talk. As a result, she launched her digital media community ‘Balance by Deborah Hutton’ in 2011.

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