How to deal with life's daily annoyances
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Trials & Tribulations1 of 11
By Shannan Rouss
Traffic jams, rude people, long lines... life is full of little aggravations. You can either let them get to you or let them go. (We advise the latter.) To avoid unnecessary stress (and save your sanity), find out how to deal with these daily annoyances.
Battle Lines2 of 11
The Annoyance: Why is it that the express line at any store is never express when you're in it? The woman ahead of you wants to pay with a check (no, wait, cash… no, check… no, cash), and she has an envelope full of coupons and, hang on a sec, she doesn't want the frozen fish sticks after all.
Battle Lines3 of 11
Survival Skill: Forget counting to ten, which usually backfires. Instead, take a figurative step back to help calm frayed nerves before you snap. A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people who were instructed to "self-distance" themselves from a stressful encounter showed less anger and aggression than those who were given no instructions or were told to "immerse themselves" in the encounter. Once you take a moment to gain some perspective, the situation may not seem so bad after all.
Driving You Crazy4 of 11
The Annoyance: You're stuck in the usual post-work traffic and trying to make it home in time for an 8PM date. Naturally, the car in front of you (with an out-of-state license plate) has managed to hesitate at every street corner before tentatively continuing on, while the car beside you seems determined to keep you out of left lane.
Driving You Crazy5 of 11
Survival Skill: If it's any consolation, know you're not alone: Fifty-eight percent of commuters say they've experienced road rage, according to a new survey by CareerBuilder.com. Because running late only adds to your stress, getting out the door ten minutes earlier can ease your AM commute. But what about the ride home? Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that listening to music relaxes the inner lining of the blood vessels, in turn lowering blood pressure. It's best to opt for something mellow instead of fast, clubby tunes, which have been linked to accidents.
The Waiting Game6 of 11
The Annoyance: It's 7:39 and your chronically tardy friend is (once again) late for your 7:30 dinner reservations. (Even after you told her the reservation was for 7:15. Even after you confirmed with her before you left work that she was running on schedule.)
The Waiting Game7 of 11
Survival Skill: If your friend is of the chronically late variety (and you still value your friendship enough to tolerate the behavior), then make a point of choosing restaurants where you don't need reservations, you can be seated without your entire party or there's a bar where you can have a drink while you wait. Then look at those ten or 15 minutes you have to yourself as "found" time, when you can finally email a friend you've been meaning to reach out to, read the latest headlines on your phone or simply relax and do nothing, a luxury in and of itself.
A Close Call8 of 11
The Annoyance: You're at a quiet café, enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee and reading the Sunday paper, having one of those rare life is good moments. And, just like that, the moment is over, because the woman two tables over is on her phone (and so hungover), rehashing at full volume her previous night's escapades.
A Close Call9 of 11
Survival Skill: First, take heart. You're not a misanthrope for wanting to take the phone and drop it in her peach iced tea. There's a reason other people's cell-phone chatter is so grating: Although our brains can tune out a conversation between two people, research shows that a "halfalogue" is more distracting and can make concentration nearly impossible. To politely encourage the offender to pipe down, try making eye contact and smiling. If she sees you seeing her, then she'll hopefully practice some volume control.
Let's Dish10 of 11
The Annoyance: You're pretty sure you left the kitchen spotless this morning, but when you return home after a long day at work, you find the sink filled with pancake batter–encrusted utensils, sticky syrup–covered plates and other signs of someone else's breakfast, whether that someone is your roommate or your significant other.
Let's Dish11 of 11
Survival Skill: You could spitefully wash the dishes, or you could just not. We suggest not. Because if you clean up after the other person, then you'll likely become even more annoyed. And when he or she says, "I was going to do it when I got home," you'll never know the truth. So instead, take a bath, relax and remember that tomorrow is another day.