What’s Worse - Little Daily Hassles
or Major, Stressful Life Events?

What’s worse, little daily hassles or major, stressful life events?

Hmmm… should you go with the seemingly logical answer or take the contrarian point of view?

The answer is a bit of a swerve.

They are both equally bad for your long-term health.

Those little stressors in life that should be a minor nuisance can accumulate to have a significant, negative impact on your mental health.

Aldwin et al. (2014), in the journal Experimental Gerontology, followed 1,293 male veterans over 20 years and examined mortality rates for those who encountered significant life stressors and those who struggled with life’s daily hassles.

The results showed there was no significant difference in mortality rates.

Take-Home Message

We often have no control over major life stressors (e.g., the death of a loved one, a car accident, a worldwide pandemic, etc.), but we do have control over how we label and react to little, everyday stressors.

So, when it comes to little everyday stressors, it’s essential to manage these quickly and effectively.

3 Tips to Help Deal with Daily Hassles

Daily life hassles aren’t going anywhere, so it’s crucial to develop strategies to reduce stress and increase the quantity and quality of your life.

Let’s take a look at 3 quick tips you can start using right away.

Exercise First

I know that some daily hassles can’t be anticipated, but when the inevitable, predictable everyday troubles occur, it helps to exercise first.

Bernstein and McNally (2016) asked study participants to do 30 minutes of jogging before dealing with an upsetting experience.

Results showed that people who exercised beforehand were better able to regulate their emotions when exposed to an upsetting experience.

For those of you who don’t like jogging, I suspect that in all likelihood, any form of aerobic exercise for around 30 minutes should help you to better cope with an upsetting experience.

There is plenty of research to show that consistent movement of any type is beneficial for mood, and I suspect this effect would be replicated when dealing with one of life’s daily hassles.

So I encourage you to pick an activity you like and get moving.

Deal with Stress in a Positive Way

Nothing revolutionary here.

It stands to reason that if you are dealing with something frustrating, it will be less stressful if you attempt to deal with it positively.

But how effective is this approach?

Sin et al. (2015) found that remaining calm or cheerful when faced with irritating situations at home or work resulted in less inflammation in the body.

This is significant because scientists are now discovering that chronic inflammation in the body contributes to mental health problems such as depression and physical health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

So, when dealing with life stressors, you want to continually make daily hassles the correct size (which is smaller and less significant, of course!) while maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Make Art

Here is a tip for those who consider themselves to be artistic, or at the very least, enjoy art.

If you don’t enjoy making art, I suspect this activity is more like to increase your stress response!

For our purpose here, we are going to focus on making art in the form of drawing, painting and modelling clay, as these art styles were recently studied.

And for those of you wondering, I don’t suspect that “modelling clay” resembled what happened with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in the movie Ghost.

Kaimal et al. (2016) had study participants of all ages create art for 45 minutes.

Study participants had cortisol levels (the stress hormone in the body) tested before and after making art.

Results showed that 75% of study participants experienced a decrease in cortisol.

And the other great news, it doesn’t matter if you are good at making art. Directly engaging in the activity of making art is enough to reduce stress levels.

So for those of you who have had a rough day and enjoy making art, consider taking some time to draw, colour or engage in some artistic activity.

How are you at handling life’s daily hassles?

Do you have a favourite strategy?

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