A smiling woman(Photo: Courtesy of Prevention)

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

In a perfect world, every day would be sunny, we'd never gain weight and our checkbooks would always balance. But instead, stuff happens -- and things don't always go according to plan. Does that doom you to a day of misery? It doesn't have to, says Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D., director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., and author of The Mind-Body Mood Solution (Rodale, 2010). While we might not be able to change the situation, what we can do is change the way we react to it, he says. And that's good, because a bad mood not only makes you feel tired and drained; it's bad for your health and could even affect how long you live.
We'll show you how to turn everyday gripes and annoyances into positives so you can maintain your sunny outlook all day long.

More from Prevention: The Surprising Health Benefits of Sadness

1. Gripe: You hit your alarm's snooze button and overslept.

What to do right now: Don't rush around at warp speed. Take your time, especially when you're in a hurry, says Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestselling book The Happiness Project (Harper Collins, 2009). This may sound counterintuitive, but it works: "When you're frantic, that's the time you'll forget your wallet, or get into a fight," Rubin says. Instead, try to behave the way you wish you felt -- calm, collected, and in control. Focusing on those feelings will soon make them a reality.

While you're calmly going about your routine, pull open your curtains: Exposure to bright light gears up your mood-enhancing serotonin. And -- for some extra mood-boosting insurance -- put the alarm on the other side of the room so you won't be tempted to use the snooze function tomorrow.

More from Prevention: 20 Natural Ways to Sleep Better

2. Gripe: You're stuck in traffic -- and nowhere near your office.

What to do right now: While recent research has established that long commutes are associated with high blood pressure, higher weight, and lower fitness levels, stewing over traffic can also increase your blood pressure and thus interfere with your health. So, while it may seem cheesy, smile, even if you don't feel like it. The effect is not only contagious, but the actual act of smiling and feeling your cheeks lift upward can fool you into feeling happy. Then pull over, call your office to let them know you'll be late, and turn on your favorite tunes to create a more relaxing atmosphere as you merge back into traffic. Studies show that people who listen to music in the car have lower respiration rates than those who don't turn on the tunes.