Having chronic illness or pain is a perfect environment for frustration and anger. Feeling poorly, having pain, and low energy levels make it harder to cope with the usual stresses of life. When you add in the stresses of managing a chronic illness on top of your daily stresses, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and angry.
You’ve probably experienced some of these chronic illness stressors:
- Unexpected delays in getting your meds or supplies or receiving the wrong supplies or medication dose.
- Difficulty getting in touch with your doctor.
- Communication breakdown with your healthcare providers.
- Feeling like your doctor isn’t really hearing your concerns.
- The costs of medical tests, supplies, medications, or hospital stays.
- Issues with insurance company claims, treatment approvals, or costs.
- Not being able to afford insurance.
- Having no one to help you manage all the above frustrations.
How Do We Manage Our Frustrations
Feeling frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, or stressed is a normal part of life with chronic illness/pain. Everyone feels this way from time to time. However, if you’re experiencing this daily or so intensely, you aren’t able to get out of this frustrated, angry place by yourself; you need some strategies to help you cope.
Disclaimer: I do not manage frustration well these days, but these are the strategies I’m working on to help me cope better. I’m a work in progress.
Tip #1: Accept your feelings of anger, frustration, and overwhelm.
In order to accept our feelings, it helps to be able to name what we are feeling. If naming what you’re feeling is difficult, looking at an emotion wheel may help.
Also, I recently learned the RAIN Meditation and have found it to be really helpful for dealing with my frustration and anger.
The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:
- Recognize what is happening;
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
- Investigate with interest and care;
- Nurture with self-compassion.” RAIN: A Practice of Radical Compassion
Tip #2: Do something enjoyable to take your mind off your situation.
Sometimes we are too upset to do the RAIN Meditation and we just need a break. Watch an enjoyable video or movie, take a walk, sit in a garden, make music or art. Whatever will help you calm down by taking your mind off of your situation.
Lately, I’ve been using this video to help calm myself.
Tip #3: Use Breathing Techniques.
Focusing on my breathing really does help me to calm down enough to continue to deal with a problem when I cannot just leave the situation. Check out the article Breathwork for Beginners: What To Know and How To Get Started for more information if needed.
It’s really helpful to practice breathing techniques when you’re feeling calm so you can use them later when you need to calm yourself. In my experience, an unfamiliar breathing technique is not helpful in a stressful moment.
Also, play around with several different techniques to find one that works well for you.
Tip #4 Ask yourself, “What do I Need?”
Next, the I in the RAIN meditation stands for investigate. Ask yourself questions like: “Where am I feeling these emotions in my body?” “What is really going on?” “Am I believing something that is increasing my distress?”
Once you have answers to these questions, you can move on to the N in the RAIN meditation. It’s helpful for me to ask myself, “What do I need?”
The author of the RAIN Meditation, Tara Brach, says:
To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love?
Asking what you need is not so much about what other people can do, but about what you can offer yourself in this situation. This is a pretty foreign idea to me and I am just beginning to understand what I need and how I can meet that need.
If this feels foreign to you, that’s okay. We are all learning and growing and sometimes growth happens slower than we think it should. Being patient with ourselves and our journey is really important as we learn to cope with frustration.
And yes, if we had more patience we wouldn’t be as frustrated!
Tip #5 Learn How To Be More Patient With Yourself & Others
According to How to be patient: building calm composure, “Patience… is a valuable life skill that can prove helpful both at work and in your private life…. The good news is that you can actually learn how to be more patient. All it takes is a few consistent, smart behaviors.”
This article lists 7 ways to practice patience. They also have an AI coaching program to help you increase your patience.
Tip #6: Learn Knew Skills For Managing Difficult Situations.
Check out my review of Linda Graham’s book Resilience: Powerful Practices For Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster.
Finally, you can read more about what frustration is, why managing it better benefits your health and tips to cope here: https://www.verywellmind.com/feel-less-frustrated-when-stressed-3145200
Wrap-Up of Frustration with
So there you have 6 strategies to help you manage frustration with more ease. I hope you find these tips as useful as I am.
Till next time, Kathy
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