Understanding frustration

What is frustration?

Frustration is a type of emotional reaction to stress. It's common to have this feeling when you encounter daily stressors at home, at school, at work and in relationships. In many cases, frustration is short-lived and tends to pass as the situation changes. But sometimes, it can be longer-lasting and take a more serious toll on your well-being. Frustration can affect a person in a variety of ways, including psychologically and physically.

Signs of frustration

• Anger or losing your temper
• Feeling anxious or on edge
• Feeling annoyed
• Experiencing changes in your eating habits
• Having trouble sleeping or experiencing other changes in your sleeping patterns
• Getting overwhelmed and giving up on tasks
• Irritability
• Using alcohol, nicotine or other substances to cope
• Avoiding the people you are frustrated with
• Engaging in physical actions to express your feelings (e.g. sighing, frowning)

Causes of frustration

Frustration tends to happen when your goals or expectations don't work out the way you want. Common causes include:
• Daily hassles
• Interpersonal conflicts
• Stressful current world events
These can arise from either internal or external causes. Internal frustration involves feeling unhappy with some aspect of yourself, whether it is your efforts or your behaviours. External frustration involves being stressed by something in your environment.

Effects of frustration

Frustration can have lasting effects on your well-being, including:
• Aggression that may be directed at yourself or at others
• Depression
• Poor self-esteem, particularly when the sources of your feelings tend to be internal
• Unhealthy behaviours when people cope in maladaptive ways such as turning to alcohol
• Stress - feeling stressed can cause frustration, and frustrating situations often generate stress

How to deal with frustration

• Improve your emotional intelligence
• Distract yourself
• Practice mindfulness
• Use other relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation
• Change your attitude - those who see things as under their control tend to be less stressed about what happens to them
• Make healthy lifestyle changes - get good nutrition, proper sleep and regular exercise
• Draw on social support

Final words

We all feel stressed and frustrated from time to time, but you don't need to allow these feelings to take over your life. By learning to manage your response to stress and frustration, you can reduce the impact they have and improve your overall well-being.

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