Transitioning to a new job or moving the family from one town to another would be stressful on anyone. Hopefully those major crises are few and far between.

But it's the little things that seem to never give up and can end up causing even more anxiety and other issues if left unchecked.

New Jersey residents spend an hour-and-a-half a day, or 24 days per year, focusing on "micro-stresses," according to a state-by-state analysis from Sleepopolis, which took into account the responses of 2,500 adults.

In the same study, nearly 60 percent of respondents said these microscopic worries, such as the dread that comes along with realizing you forgot to send your aunt a birthday card, or hoping tomorrow morning's traffic is manageable, are cutting into their nighttime sleep on a regular basis.

"Little is actually bigger than big because they connect, add up, and they become a habit of worrying," said psychologist Daniel Gallagher in Maplewood.

These micro-stresses shouldn't just be tossed aside, however, Gallagher said. But individuals can better manage these worrisome thoughts by putting a pin in them and focusing on them at a time of their choosing. That way, you're in charge of the situation; the worry isn't controlling you.

"Coping with stress involves dealing with stressors little by little, which increases our coping, so that stress does not become distress," he said.

Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents said they struggled to "switch off" when they returned home from work. Of those who said micro-stresses regularly affect sleep, 45 percent said the stressors are related to their job.

"Stress definitely wears on us in a number of ways," said Carrie Spindel Bashoff, a clinical psychologist in West Orange.

And sleep hygiene is just one of the victims, she said, noting research that links stress to blood pressure and cardiac issues.

"I talk to my clients about carving out vacation time in your day," she said. "Twenty to 30 minutes to literally [...] pretend to stop life and engage in a very enjoyable activity."

Finding ways to increase exercise is another great way to relieve stress, or at least temporarily get your mind off the small stuff, she said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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