We’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic and my adopted home country is heading towards a disastrous no-deal Brexit, yet I am walking around the house with a smile on my lips and a spring in my step. Have I gone mad?
No, but I’ve discovered that whoever coined the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” got it completely backwards. What better way to deal with a big crisis than focusing on the small stuff?
What I mean is this; as awful as the pandemic is, there’s nothing I can do about it other than wash my hands, wear a face mask when required and refrain from attending house parties. As for Brexit, well it’s happening, and a UK-EU deal looks increasingly unlikely, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, so why sweat it? Why sweat the big stuff you can’t effect, when you CAN sweat the small stuff?
I’m a stickler for being on time and I’ll be damned if my kids are late for school, let alone fail to hand in a piece of homework on time. So, rather than worrying about illness, death, and economic hardship, I am fretting about getting out of the house on time on a school day, harassing my children about their schoolwork, nagging my husband to take the bins out on a Tuesday night, and so on.
Sweating the small stuff is such a brilliant coping strategy for hard times, I don’t know why no one’s written a self-help book about it yet. Once the kids (and the bins) are out of the house, and my husband is safely ensconced in his office, I dance around the house, singing religious hymns learned in childhood and never since forgotten.
Sweat the small stuff, yes, but don’t bother sweating in a gym. Cancelling my gym membership was one of the best things I did last year. Not only did it save me money, but with no gym membership, there can be no guilt about not going to the gym. And don’t try telling me that sweating in a gym three times per week will make me live longer. My grandmother is 98 years old, her mind sharper than most people’s, and I dare say she’s never set her foot on a treadmill.
Sweat the small stuff, but not too much. In my thirties I had a series of strokes, unexplained by the doctors, and in my forties I had a pulmonary embolism, also unexplained. I’ve since come to understand that far from being spontaneous incidents with no apparent cause, they were each a direct consequence of the high level of emotional stress I was experiencing at the time. Stress is obviously bad for my health and I intend to live until I am 105, only to spite my daughter who’s asked to inherit my favourite necklace, a birthday gift from my husband, and which I refuse to be parted with.
I’ll be damned if I let something as serious as a pandemic get to me.