Keeping Calm in the Face of Frustration {Listmania}

by Valerie on July 23, 2009 · 11 comments

I had one of those incredibly frustrating multiply-a-trip-to-the-DMV-exponentially-induced-anger mornings. I knew it would be frustrating, and I was happy with how I handled the frustrating part. But there’s always the “after” of those moments.

And, as I was leaving, I realized that my usual express approach for decompressing off a situation like that before going to the office and putting my game face on {aka an iced skim chai and 10 minutes of quiet time in Starbucks} was not really available to me right now. Even if I substituted the milk with non-dairy milk, I still can’t have sugar or black tea. I considered just having herbal tea at one of the three Starbucks between where I was and my office, and getting my 10 minutes of calm post-chaos, but then I started thinking about how we build our rituals for calm.

The reason I have always counted on an iced skim chai plus Starbucks time is that, let’s face it, you can find a Starbucks just about anywhere in the cities I have lived in for the last 15 years. It’s familiar – the drink is the same, the surroundings are the same, the music is often the same. You can usually find a Starbucks in airports or on the road too. The reasons I rejected Starbucks for independent little cafes were exactly the reasons I sought it out when I had a finite amount of time to put myself back together, fast.

So instead of trying to adapt my usual calm-down-fast ritual to my current restricted diet, I decided to try a new one altogether, one that had nothing to do with the external {i.e. food, the Starbucks setting} – I took a quick walk and made a list of things I was grateful for that had helped me this morning and would help me tomorrow:

* Being organized

* Blessed with a good memory, so that when I couldn’t find one thing because being organized failed me {moving last fall in under 2 weeks will leave casualties when it comes to filing and organization}, I was able to unearth it fairly quickly

* Having good negotiating skills

* Supportive husband

* The routine work would bring me for the rest of the day

Then I started also thinking about other things that made me happy:

* Connecting with friends, real and virtual, tweeps and blog readers, soon after the unpleasant frustration – reading a few tweets and blog posts sure took my mind off of things
* Knowing I get to go to a 2 hour yoga class tomorrow taught by Kimberly Wilson tomorrow, complete with live music by PS24
* Finally organizing my nightstand so it’s part bookshelf, part inspiration, part function

I am really starting to believe in the power of gratitude lists. I feel much calmer. I will remember this approach, though a cup of herbal tea in familiar Starbucks is one to keep too.

 What do you do when you are frustrated and need to calm down? Do you have a different tactic if time is limited?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
General Disclosures & Disclaimers

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Revisionista July 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

love this post!

glad you found some calm (love both the starbucks & gratitude list suggestions) am filing those away for upcoming fall semester wackness :)


2 Vienna July 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm

I've always tried to do your plan A: Starbucks or similar. But this year I changed job and I don't work in the city anymore but on a Campus, which is beautiful, but only have 1 cafe, usually crowded by students. The campus is beautiful, but it's always raining and cold (you can't win). I also share office this year, which I've found it very frustrating on regular basis. I will have to adopt your Plan B and write the 'gratitude list'. I think it will work.
What never fails to me is a good Yoga session, if that's possible. Thanks for the tips on overcome frustration!


3 Lauren July 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I first started making gratitude lists about a year and a half ago and I was struck by how quickly I noticed their impact on me. It's definitely a good tool to keep in the anti-stress arsenal!


4 Kiki July 23, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I feel absolutely the same way about Starbucks – it's an oasis, no matter what country I'm in at the time. But well done for breaking your previous habit for the sake of your health, and creating multiple comforting rituals for yourself.


5 Rachel July 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Yoga definitely makes me calm. I love it! :)


6 Globetrotting Cacti July 23, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Love your gratitude list. Also agree with the Starbucks thing. When I lived in the States and I was homesick I used to go to Starbucks and read…. it was warm and familiar and I could easily be back home. It is the same on my travels…. the only country where I have not stubbled across a Starbucks in Japan. It is definatly a familiar friend to me…


7 Christine Claire Reed July 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Mmmmm…I love this idea of having some regular, ritualized thing you do to deal with a negative emotion. Nice. I have to think about this some more.

AND you demonstrate that flexibility is not only necessary but can be delightful in and of itself. :)


8 AnalieseMarie July 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm

It's interesting to see what we uncover when we take a step back and examine our habits/rituals. Kudos to you for taking the time to think about an alternate ritual and following through with it!

When I'm frustrated, I try to do some deep yogic breathing, or take a walk around the block.


9 Naturally Jules July 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

So interesting, I find Starbucks stressful! Go figure.

Wonderful that you've found a differenct solution, one that not only eased your frustruation but also encouraged growth!


10 messybaker July 24, 2009 at 1:51 am

I love the idea to make a gratitude list. I am definitely going to try that. When I'm stressed I try to do one of two things – go outside and stand under a tree looking up, if possible, and if that option isn't on the table for whatever reason, I make some peppermint tea and find a quiet space, breathe a little deeper, and focus very intently on something that makes me extremely happy – usually, that means reliving my wedding day. After 5 minutes or so of that, I can usually tackle almost anything!


11 Jen of A2eatwrite July 25, 2009 at 2:09 pm

What a great post. Things that calm me down are drinking some water (sometimes I'm dehydrated without realizing it), having an espresso at my desk, reading/writing, or playing a quick game of bejeweled. Obviously, the reading/writing part doesn't lend itself to compressed time. Taking a shower or swimming helps, too. I think I am a water baby at heart.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: