When was the last time you were frustrated enough to _____________ (cry, scream, shout, over-eat, run and hide, or whatever your typical reaction to frustration is)?
It seems like life gives us a lot of reasons to feel frustrated. These days, daily life gives us any number of reasons for our frustration button to be pushed hard. You name it, the weather, the economy, our jobs, family… and facing the day-to-day challenges of a chronic condition.
I often read posts here on Diabetic Connect from members who talk about how frustrated they are. Family member may be unsupportive. Healthcare providers may be hard to communicate with. And then there are the ups and downs of managing blood sugar levels, and all that goes along with that job.
It is only human to feel frustrated when life seems to be throwing one curveball after another, to ask questions like “what is this happening to me?” Lingering frustration can be a “gift” that keeps on giving. It can bring up a lot of strong feelings that may be hard to sort out. It can make you wonder if there is anything you can do to fix things, and if you should even bother to try. Frustration can leave you with a pretty bleak view of your future.
Here are some ideas to consider the next time something pushes your frustration button.
Some venting may help. Sometimes it can help to just sit down with someone who can be a non-judgmental listening ear, and ask them to just let you vent about your feelings. It can be helpful to release those pent up emotions, to let them out in the air rather than keeping them bottled up inside. You might want to let your listening ear know that you just want to talk and aren’t asking them for advice, unless you want their advice.
Vent, but not too much. There is a very fine line between venting in a way that can give you some release, and venting that becomes unproductive. If you find that you can’t let go of what’s causing your frustration, if you find yourself going over and over it in your mind, or with other people, then you may be making yourself feel worse. This is called rumination. In the process of going over and over whatever is frustrating you, you may also feel more and more helpless and hopeless. This can affect your compliance with your medication regimen, your lifestyle, and your relationships, as well as increase your stress level.
Ask yourself: How much control do I have? Frustration is about control or, more like it, feeling that some part of your life is out of control. You might want to use some mindfulness here. Stand back and take a look at the situation as if you were an uninvolved observer. What’s going on with that person – you – and what’s happening in the situation that he/she is frustrated about? What is in that person’s control? What isn’t? This may help you to get a perspective on what’s going on.
And then ask yourself: What can I change and what can I fix? By taking a more objective look at what’s bothering you, you can begin to sort out what aspects of your problem you can actually do something about and which ones may be less in your control. Acceptance is the beginning of a more peaceful attitude. Knowing what you can change is the beginning of empowerment. Understanding both will help you to find your way out of your frustration.
Show yourself some compassion… and patience. Frustration can result in beating up on yourself which can, in turn, affect your self-image. Go easy on yourself, tell yourself that you are facing a lot and that you are doing the best you can under the circumstances, and that you will find a way to face his challenge, as you have faced others in the past. Turn your compassion outward. If you can stop blaming yourself you will also be less likely to blame others.
Get involved in activities you enjoy, and with people you enjoy them with. Take time for activities that give you pleasure and help to keep you calm. Get together with friends or family members that you enjoy. Basically, distract yourself from all that frustration. Reach out and celebrate what’s going well in your life.
Don’t neglect your spirit. If you have religious or spiritual practices that are part of your life, or that you want to make a part of your life, there is no time like the present.
Be patient. The world doesn’t run on our personal clock. Things take time. This includes managing medications, getting diet and lifestyle on track, and communicating with healthcare professionals and loved ones. Bumps along the road don’t have to mean that the road can’t be traveled with some work and a new strategy. In the meantime, don’t neglect your self-care – this is not a time to neglect yourself.
Strategize with someone who can help. Speaking of strategizing, it can be helpful to talk with someone who can help you to brainstorm on solutions to whatever situation is causing your frustration. This should be a person who can help you to look at things objectively, who can help you to consider things from various angles, and who might have some suggestions. It’s not this person’s job to solve your problem for you, just to help you to open up to what’s possible, to help you gain some perspective. Support groups can be helpful here.
Consult the experts. Talk to people who can offer you professional advice. This might mean a conversation with your physician or a diabetes educator, or another medical professional.
Consider reaching out to a mental health professional. If you are feeling overwhelmed by frustration, if it is affecting your attitude, causing self-doubt, or conflict with loved ones or other people in your life, or interfering with your self-care in any way, this may be a good time to consult with a mental health professional. Don’t go through this alone.
How do you handle the frustrations of life and keep your wellness on track? It would be great to hear from you!
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