How to Overcome Frustration
Frustration. It winds you up and can take so much out of you.
Because it not only sucks energy but also distracts you and can steal quite a bit of time.
So what can you do?
Well, sometimes that frustration can actually be a positive and can give you a new idea or angle on things. Or it can give you the power to keep going just a little bit more until you reach your goal.
But when you start going in circles, when the frustration just makes you mad or your mind foggy and the day is starting to slip through your fingers then there are steps you can take.
There are ways to turn such a state of mind or day around.
Into something better. Into something more helpful. And into something that will make you feel better again.
Step 1: Be here now.
When you are frustrated then you are often somewhere in the future in your mind. Somewhere you wish you would be. Or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.
Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment.
You can do so by for example:
- Focusing on your breathing. Sit down, close your eyes and just focus on the air going and out of your nose for 1-2 minutes. Take calm and slightly deeper breaths than usual and breathe with your belly and not your chest.
- Focus on what is around you at this time. The sun shining in through your window. The kids playing out in the street and the cars and people going by. The smells and feeling of the clothes and warmth of the sun on your skin. Do this for 1-2 minutes to get your attention back to the present moment.
Step 2: Appreciate what you do have.
After you have pulled your attention back to where it can be most helpful focus it on what is still positive in your life.
The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus it on appreciating what you do have.
A favorite of mine during this step is the important things we may sometimes take for granted. Like for instance:
- A warm home and a roof over your head.
- Plenty of drinkable water.
- Not having to go hungry.
- Access to the internet (and perhaps your own place to express yourself).
- Your friends and family.
- Spend a few minutes on this and you’ll find much to be grateful for.
Step 3: Focus on what you can do right now.
With your attention in the present moment and your mood a more grateful and positive one it is now time to get constructive about what frustrates you.
You can do that by asking yourself:
What is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?
It may be to see what you can learn from what frustrates you and to try another path towards your goal.
Or it could be to try one more time and to keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).
Or it could be you simply realizing that you may have taken on a bit much lately or things have been tough and that you need to take this evening or a few days to just relax, take care of yourself and perhaps simplify a bit.
So that you can recharge and then get back into moving towards what you want out of your life in a more focused way.
Bonus tips to reduce or prevent frustration:
Make note of your triggers and see what you can do about them.
What triggers your frustration?
Is it when your partner doesn’t take out the trash as you had agreed? Or when you’re not making progress as fast you like with your career or hobby? Or when your phone’s interrupting your work all too often?
Whatever it might be, first ask yourself:
What can I do to prevent this trigger in the first place?
For example, put your phone in silent mode or airplane mode and then get back to people during 1-3 scheduled times throughout your workday.
If you can’t prevent it then ask yourself:
What can I do to reduce the frustration caused by this trigger?
For instance, if you get frustrated with delays or waiting time while on your daily commute then ask your friends or google for answers for how others handle this common issue.
You may discover that one helpful solution is an audio book or podcast to listen to divert your attention and to get something good out of the situation while you’re waiting.
Remember: you’re human (and so is everyone else).
Perfectionism towards yourself or others does most often lead to plenty of frustration and disappointment. So set your standards both for others and yourself at a human level rather than at perfection.
Accept that sometimes you will make mistakes, have setbacks and not reach your goals when you’d like to. And so will people around you too.
Work from that perspective both with yourself and others and when there is a setback then focus on what you can learn to improve and to do better the next time.
Talk it out (instead of keeping it bottled up).
When you talk a frustration over with someone then it can help you to start seeing it from a more level-headed perspective as you vent.
And your friend that’s listening may have one or couple of good pieces of advice from his or her own experience. Or the two of you can start coming up with a plan for how you can overcome or at least reduce this frustrating situation.
Communicate as directly as you can.
People can’t read your thoughts and you can’t read theirs.
So avoid trying to hint, guess or be passive-aggressive and go for simple, straightforward and calm communication as best you can.
It can be difficult to do right at that moment but it will most often save you a lot of unnecessary frustration, tension and misunderstandings in your relationships.