How many times have you come back home from work and vented your frustration at your family for no fault of theirs? How many evenings have you been annoyed at everything and everyone for something that transpired earlier? How many times have you found yourself carrying negative feelings from some time ago, unable to let it go?
When we don’t deal with a negative thought in the right way, the consequences can be dire. Sometimes we don’t have time to process our feelings as much as we process our thoughts. When these unprocessed feelings overlap with other aspects of our life, it can result in unnecessary chaos. It will also end up affecting the mood of those around us. We need to find an effective way to handle all miscellaneous thoughts and feelings.
So, the looming question is – how do we deal with frustrations?
Disconnect from the world.
For a better part of my life, I spent a lot of time commuting to and from home. This usually means I’m by myself, away from people and away from anything that could possibly annoy me. I usually spend this time staring outside the window and thinking about my day – what I should have done and what I shouldn’t have done. Oh, also the fantastic arguments I should have made during a heated discussion. Most of my frustrations make no sense when I think about them for a second time. And this leaves me time to process the really important ones and figure out a way to tackle them. I follow this golden rule – If I can do something about a problem, I give it a try. If there is nothing I can do about it, I accept it and move on. Irrespective of whether I find a solution, spending some quiet time (away from my phone) does help me.
At the end of the day, your mind is like a Chrome browser with too many tabs open. If you proceed with the same mindset, you end up opening even more new tabs and that would drain all your energy. Don’t you think you should spend some time with the opened tabs? You can either close them or make a note of the ones you need to reopen later. If you keep clearing your backlog every now and then, you can have some peace of mind. So if you’re frustrated, try to spend some time by yourself without any distractions. You could work through your frustrations, find a solution or understand the reason behind it. Give your mind some breathing space to figure out a way to deal with the concurrent process threads, before diving into your next task.
Out of sight, out of mind!
If you are among those who feel #1 wouldn’t work for you, I understand. Not everything works for everyone the same way. I know a few people who manage the transition phase by diving into an activity. A colleague of mine heads straight to the gym after his work. He started this routine to ensure he did not miss his workouts, but he swears by the routine now. He says that it gives him time to take all the workload off his mind. That one hour gives him time to forget about his work day and give him some time for himself before he heads home. This way, he says, he steps into his home with a fresh mind and spends quality time with his family.
For those who feel a gradual transition is boring, diving headlong into another activity might work well as a diversion tactic. There are two kinds of people – the one who warms up before a swim, to ensure they can handle the cold water and then gradually increase their laps. And then, there are the ones who dive right into the water and then doing a few fast laps to warm up their bodies. If you know yourself well, you can choose any strategy that works well for you.
Just write it down!
Of course, nothing works better than writing about how you feel. It helps to write when you’re anxious, annoyed or angry. The simple act of getting it out of your mind into another medium will alleviate the pain you experience. Not only that, when you read your journal later, you get another chance to look at the situation from a different perspective. You could also pick up a key point that you might have missed earlier. You can also understand patterns and triggers, and deal with them accordingly. The added advantage of pouring our hearts out on a sheet of paper is that we don’t have to worry about being judged. It is confidential and can help you get all the burden off your chest before you move on with the rest of your day. When you’re dealing with a difficult time, instead of wallowing or taking it out on someone, you can write what bothers you. If you spell out everything, the answer will become obvious in most cases.
There is no one solution that works for all. Oh wait, there is no one solution that works for us all the time. When you’re running from one errand to another, looking for a gradual transition is not going to help. Same holds true for life-threatening problems that you cannot stop thinking about. Finding the best way to handle a problem depends on what you’re going through and the gravity of the situation you are in. I picked up these techniques from people around me and I’m glad I did. They work most of the times, but even then, sometimes nothing can pacify an agitated mind. It might seem that even the best philosopher in the world cannot help you. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, ditch everything and have an ice cream. I’m not sure about you, but my life is always a lot better after an ice cream or two.
So, what are your strategies to deal with frustrations?
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