Frustration is bound to happen at one time or the other. It is a natural reaction to our desire for things to be different than they are. It could be the want for a different job, time, place, home, emotion, set of priorities, reaction from others, etc. Our expectations get let down, and life feels disappointing and irritating. We usually learn to deal with some of the irritations, but others just stick with us and are difficult to let go. These frustrations can build and build until they drain us of energy and eventually result in feelings of hopelessness, anger, or depression if we let them.
The good news is that you can learn to control how you deal with the frustrations of life.
Here are a few suggestions to turn things around and deal with frustration and irritation:
1. Learn to accept reality. Sometimes we have control, and sometimes we just do not. The problem is that we really like having control. When the situation is beyond your control, acknowledge and accept that you have no control. No matter how much you struggle against it, you will simply be wasting your energy. This acknowledgment does not change the situation but can change your perception of your role within it and decrease the pressure you put on yourself.
2. Refocus your focus. Focusing on what is going wrong will likely lead to more negativity. Refocus your thinking and concentrate on how you can proactively make things better for yourself and others.
3. Get some perspective. Comparing your frustration level to the situation, you find yourself in may help you put your emotions into perspective. Is your emotional reaction equal to whatever is irritating you? For example, if you find yourself extremely angry about how slow traffic is moving, consider how much your commute time really affects your life. On a scale from 1-10 of bad things that could happen, where does slow traffic rank? A 1 or 2? Now, consider your frustration level. Is it at a 1 or 2, or is it a lot higher?
4. Pause and evaluate your situation. When you are frustrated, stop yourself and assess the situation. Ask yourself what specifically is making you feel frustrated? Then find proactive ways to deal with your frustration. For instance, if your girlfriend is making you wait at a coffee shop, then use this time to read a book or catch up with a friend on the phone. Or, quietly just sit back and relax. When you make an active choice instead of just reacting to the stressful situation, you feel more in control of your life. This will improve your ability to deal with frustration and irritation.
5. Find out the reason. Find out the reason behind the situation that’s causing you to feel frustrated. We can sometimes assume the worst in people if we aren’t careful. If possible, investigate why something happened the way it did before allowing your frustration to consume you. You might just find out there was a justified reason.
6. Shift your focus. Feeling frustrated at the moment is a natural response. However, letting it linger on and on, or dwelling on the frustration, is a choice we make. You can choose to focus on the irritating situation, which lets it have power over you, or you can choose to shift your focus to something more productive.
7. Focus on the present. Sometimes we carry frustration over events that occurred in the past or are worried about what might happen in the future. While it is important to learn from the past and plan for the future, we can only live in the present. Focus on what you can do right now, or what is happening around you. Dwelling in the past and future concerns can only increase your frustration level and stop you from engaging with life right now.
8. Focus on your breathing. It may sound simple, but focusing on your breathing can help you be in the present moment and cope with frustration. Close your eyes and take deep, steady breaths, and focus on the rhythm of your breath. Closing your eyes can bring your focus to the task at hand.
9. Appreciate and be grateful. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. For instance, your family, your job, your friends, etc. When you spend a few minutes looking at the positives in your life, it can lower the impact of your frustrations and irritations.
10. Set attainable goals. By setting attainable goals, you are taking proactive steps to find a solution to your problem. For instance, if you are finding it tough to work on the book you are writing, set a goal to write for a certain period of time in the day and then allow yourself a break. Make the goal manageable so that you can see progress in smaller chunks, which can decrease overall frustration.
11. Find multiple solutions. When you are frustrated know that most problems have multiple solutions. You just need to find them. Ask yourself to come up with 10 possible options to your problems. Simply knowing that you have a number of solutions to your problems can make you feel better.
12. Find something positive about the situation. Try to find positive aspects to your situation. Not every situation has positives attached to it, but many do if we will just look for them. When you change the way you look at the problem, your frustration level can change as well.
13. Visualize a positive outcome of the situation. Imagine yourself achieving your desired outcome. What will the outcome look like? How would it make you feel? Visualize yourself successfully achieving your goals. Focus on it. Take your time to visualize and feel it. It will keep you inspired.
14. Remember the last time you were frustrated. Try to think of the last time you were frustrated about something. The situation probably improved after a while. You might remember that your feelings of frustration did not really help you solve your problem.
15. Talk about it. Talking with someone about your frustration can go a long way to curb your irritation. For instance, if you are frustrated about issues between you and your spouse, schedule a couple’s therapy session; if you are flustered about your child’s temper tantrums, arrange a consultation with a child psychologist. At certain times, simply confiding in a friend or a relative can help you deal with your struggles. Whatever it is, don’t keep it inside, let it out.
16. Journal it. Start maintaining a journal. Write down all your fears, frustration, and irritation in detail. Once you have vented all of your frustrations, balance your journaling with writings about positives that occurred during the day and your successes. Journaling can be a great way to vent our emotions while also helping to remind us to not forget about the positives.
17. Keep an accomplishment list. Write down everything that you accomplish in a notepad. Keep a monthly log where you note down all that you have accomplished in a month. Your accomplishments will motivate you and help you lower your frustration.
18. Go for a run or do yoga. Any kind of exercise can help you become mindful and will shift your focus. Exercise involves repetitive movements that can be a kind of a meditation that will help calm your mind.
19. Be helpful. Instead of focusing on your irritation and frustration, focus on helping someone else. This is a great way to shift your irritated energy to something more productive.
20. Get creative. Think of ways to find clever solutions and strategies for your problems. For instance, if you are having financial problems, think of creative ways to make extra money on the side. Take a look at your talents and find a way to monetize them. If you are good at cooking, do some local catering, or if writing is your forte, try blogging in your spare time. Blogging can expose you to income earning opportunities. Whatever your frustrations may be, there are often creative ways to address them.
21. Read or watch something humorous. Laughter can truly be great medicine. Engaging in something humorous will not address the cause of your concern directly, but it can give you a break from the worry or irritation. Such a break can be very refreshing and allow you to come back to your concern with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective.
22. Surround yourself with positive people. While it’s probably true that “misery loves company,” it doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy way to go. There is nothing worse than being surrounded by people just as frustrated and down as you. It will drag you further down and impede your ability to work through the problem proactively. Surround yourself with optimistic, positive people who value emotional health and forward movement.
23. Sleep on it. Sometimes the best way to deal with frustrations is to NOT try to find a solution immediately. Decide to let the matter go for now, and get some sleep. Sleep restores the body while also allowing your mind to process all that happened during the day. It’s amazing how we are often able to more easily find solutions after a good night’s rest.
24. Take a walk. When frustrated, take a long walk. Walking can help you clear your mind and will help you put your thoughts in order.
25. Stop blaming yourself. Self-blame only serves to undermine your self-esteem and foster irritation. Rather than blaming yourself constantly, try to genuinely determine which aspects of the problem, if any, are your responsibility. If you are responsible, focus on your reparations. If you are not, then your self-blame is misplaced. Either way, focusing on the self-blame is self-defeating.
26. Look at yourself as an observer. When you look at yourself as an observer, you can notice things that you might otherwise overlook. Try to look at how you behave and act when frustrated? What words do you usually speak when irritated? Write it down. This will help you look at yourself as someone else and will help you take control over your frustration.
27. Expose yourself to mildly frustrating situations. To raise your tolerance for frustrating situations, start exposing yourself to them in mild ways. Create a list of situations in which you tend to get frustrated. Commit yourself to face such situations once a week or so. For instance, if waiting in long lines irritates you, make it a point to go to a coffee shop in the peak hour when you know you will have to wait to grab a cup of coffee. Watch your frustration level carefully and practice some of the other techniques listed here. You may find your frustration tolerance increasing. However, be cautious with this kind of self exposure as it is not intended for potentially dangerous sources of stress. Do not ever intentionally place yourself in harm’s way.