Regardless of how calm, cool and collected you are most of the time, you might still have those 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.
You’ve probably also learned you’ve got to “keep a lid on” your feelings in certain situations because, if you don’t, you could create more difficulties for yourself.
In such exasperating times, try these strategies to handle your frustrations:
First – Take some deep breaths. Although this strategy sounds like it might not help at all, the fact is that breathing techniques really work. If you use the wellness guru, Andrew Weil’s, “4-7-8” technique for breathing, you’ll discover you can calm yourself down rather quickly. Here’s how it works:
If you take four of these 4-7-8 breaths in a row, your frustration will likely dissipate and you’ll feel better.
Next – Disengage. If you’re in a situation where you can briefly leave the room, excuse yourself to exit. Go to the restroom, another quiet space, or for a quick walk in the building or around the parking lot. Physically disengaging from the frustrating event will nearly always help your frustration level to drop.
Third – Challenge yourself to say nothing about the situation or event. Probably the toughest suggestion on this list to actually do, saying nothing means you won’t compound any developing challenge in the room. Although you have a right to your feelings, it’s not always wise to voice them, especially if you’re feeling quite frustrated at the time.
Fourth – Be proactive. Try to anticipate when you might feel frustrated so you can plan how you’ll handle it if it happens.
For example, maybe you’ve got a brother-in-law, Paul (or a co-worker or an acquaintance), who seems to always push your buttons and get you feeling pretty irritated. And you just happen to be going out to dinner (or another type of social event) with Paul and your sister this evening.
Ask yourself, “How can I prepare now to keep my frustration at bay or to handle it if Paul triggers me?” Thinking about it ahead of time will help you tap in to your own strategies to keep a handle on your frustration and to exercise control over your own reactions. Don’t obsess over this, but having a plan will help you to be ready if the challenge occurs.
Fifth – Learn to distinguish between things that really matter and the “small stuff.” Does the situation you’re getting so annoyed about really matter in the grand scheme of things? Save your emotional agitation for something that’s truly important. When you can establish these differences in your mind, you’ll be better able to ignore some of the small stuff.
Ask yourself, “Will this really make a difference a year from now? 5 years?” If not, you can usually 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.
Sixth – Distract yourself. If you get irritated when only 2 or 3 people are present, try distracting 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, or the group of people celebrating over in the corner.
You can avoid simple frustrations by either thinking about or doing something to take your mind away from the frustrating topic.
Seventh – 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 they’re doing, or what’s new in their lives. 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!