Regardless of how calm you are in your daily life, you probably still have moments when your frustration level seems to go sky-high. The challenging aspect of feeling frustrated is the urgency you feel to express those upsetting feelings – clearing the air and releasing the “pressure”.
You’ve probably also learned – and at a young age – that you’ve got to “keep a lid on” your feelings in certain situations or around certain people because if you don’t, you create more difficulties for yourself.
In such frustrating times, try one or more of these strategies to handle those “end of my rope” situations:
Take some slow, deep breaths. Although this strategy sounds like it might not help at all, the fact is that breathing techniques really DO work. If you use wellness guru Andrew Weil’s, “4-7-8” technique for breathing, you’ll discover it can help you to calm yourself down fairly quickly. Here’s how the technique works:
- Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.
- Then, hold in your breath to the count of 7.
- Finally, breathe out through your mouth to the count of 8. Focus on blowing out all of the air from your lungs in this step.
- If you take four of the 4-7-8 breaths in a row, your frustration will reduce and fade away, and you’ll feel better.
Disengage and “get some space”. If you can briefly leave the room and get away from the situation, excuse yourself and exit. Go to the restroom or for a quick walk in the building or around the parking lot. Physically disengaging from the frustrating event (and related persons as well) will nearly always lower your frustration level.
Challenge yourself to say absolutely nothing. Probably the toughest action to perform on this list, saying nothing means you won’t compound any emerging difficulties or negative emotions in the room. Although you have a perfect right to your feelings, it’s not always wise to voice them, especially if you’re feeling quite frustrated at the time. Unfiltered frustration can be very difficult for others to handle and could cause them to lash out in response.
Be proactive. Try to anticipate what aspects of a particular situation or interaction make your frustration level rise to that you can work out in advance how you’ll handle it.
- For example, maybe you’ve got a brother-in-law, Paul, who seems to deliberately push your buttons and generate irritated feelings. And – much to your chagrin – you just happen to be going out to dinner with Paul and your sister this very evening.
- Ask yourself, “How can I prepare now to keep my frustrations at bay or plan how to handle it if Paul succeeds in triggering me?” Thinking about the event ahead of time will help you tap in to your own strategies to successfully keep a handle on your frustration.
Learn to distinguish between things that really matter and the “small stuff.” Does the situation you’re getting so annoyed about really make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Save your emotional agitation and “top of mind” space for something that’s really important. When you can clearly establish these differences in your mind, you’ll find it easier to ignore the small stuff.
- Ask yourself, “Will this really make a difference 9 months from now? A year from now? Two years?” If not, you can likely put it in the category of the “small” stuff.
- Another way of using this concept is to “pick your battles.” Save the battles for the big stuff.
Distract yourself. If you find yourself getting irritated when only 2 or 3 people are present, it can help to distract yourself with thoughts of things you have to do at home or looking for something in your briefcase or purse. Maybe you notice a lovely painting on the wall in the restaurant where you’re dining.
- You can avoid simple frustrations by either thinking about or doing something to take your mind away from the frustrating topic.
Focus on another person in the room. If you’re in a group of people and someone says or does something that frustrates you, turn to the person next to you and ask how she’s doing. It’s fairly easy to disengage from the person who’s irritating you and talk to someone else whenever others are close by.
You have the power to curb your frustration. You can take deep breaths, disengage, avoid commenting, anticipate developing frustration, and learn to tell the difference between big things and the small stuff. You can also distract yourself or even focus on another person in the room.
These methods work! Try them the next time you’re feeling frustrated. You’ll feel so much better and your frustration will disappear!