It happens to all of us sometimes.
You’re having a regular old day, nothing especially difficult or horrible has happened to you, but you can’t help feeling that everything and everyone around you is Incredibly Stupid and Frustrating. Like, incredibly. W. T. F.
Drivers who cut you off. Inanimate objects that don’t work the way they’re supposed to. The sky. Your normally beloved significant other. Doorways. Breathing.
Things that might irritate you normally, but you get over them. Things that aren’t even frustrating. Things you’d typically just laugh at.
But this isn’t a typical day. This is a stabby day. And everyone else better get the hell out of your way, because shit’s gonna be on if they don’t…
It’s too easy when we’re feeling grumpy to think the world sucks, the people around us suck, we suck for feeling so hostile and mean. But negative emotions are just like colds or headaches — they are things that happen to us, and they may ruin our day, but they pass. They affect us, but they don’t have to define us. (Tweet, tweet!)
Coping with negative emotions calls for the same sort of strategy you’d use for a physical ailment like a headache. You may not be able to shake a stabby mood. You may not even be able to mitigate it. Sometimes you just have to ride it out, doing your best to get through the day and not letting it ruin things any more than can be avoided.
Coping With a Stabby Day
Feeling especially stabby a little while ago, I polled my social media peeps on how they deal with particularly black moods. And (as always) I got some great responses:
I’ll let you know after I make it through today at work… ~Abby Has Issues
1. Write a gratitude list—the longer, the better! 2. Go for a walk. 3. Take a deep breath and observe what I’m feeling without attaching to it. 4. Write a letter to my stabby feelings. ~Chrysta Bairre
Breathe, and remember that you too work in a circus 🙂 It helps to know that you’re not the only one in the same situation. ~Danielle Pekalski
I like to build safe rooms for the angry parts of myself in which they get to break lots of glass, throw things, punch things and otherwise wreak all the havoc I cannot inflict on the actual physical world. Safe rooms are a The Fluent Self technique… the aggression is all my own. ~Sarah Goshman [Cordelia note: check out The Fluent Self when you get a chance. Good stuff.]
Go for a 25 mile bike ride or run 5 miles as fast as you can. ~Jen Norden
When I feel this way, I journal, yell at the walls, and generally keep to myself as much as possible. Then again if how you feel is justified maybe you should talk about it with someone you trust!!! ~Carolyn Wolfe
I walk hard and fast and mutter to myself when I think no one is looking. Then I vent to a good friend who has been forewarned and is properly braced! ~Susan Holland
Go to the gym, or hold it all in, write down everything you want to say then _carefully_ delete it. ~@HungryandFrozen
Here are a few more tips I’d add from own personal grump-day arsenal:
1. Count to 10
When you’re irritable, your gut reactions are probably not the wisest reactions. Before you snap at someone or slam a door, pause for several seconds and make sure what you’re about to say or do isn’t just your bad mood talking.
Regardless of how justified it feels at the moment, reign it in if you know it’s something you’ll regret in a cooler state of mind.
2. Find Something to Smash
I love Sarah’s suggestion above. Whether you jab your fist into a pillow, write a profanity-filled journal entry, roll up the windows in your car and let out a good scream, or just visualize yourself in a room full of glass smashing the living daylights out of everything, allow yourself an avenue to let out the frustration.
Find a safe way to acknowledge and express it so you don’t wind up taking it out on the wrong things.
3. Work Out Your Anger
There’s nothing like running till you’re exhausted or punching the shit out of a punching bag (see above re: smashing things) to help you get out your anger. Not only is it a healthy, constructive way to vent your awful feelings; it has the added benefit of wearing you out so much you usually don’t have the energy to be as raging mad as you were before.
4. Pump Up the Jams
Remember when you were in high school and your parents did something so incredibly unfair you just had to run up to your room and crank up [whatever loud, angry band you loved] as loud as you possibly could without it getting you in trouble? (My personal go-to’s were The Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine.) Remember how incredibly therapeutic that felt?
If your job is pissing you off, put on your earbuds and crank up some good scream-o tunes to secretly express how unfair the world around you feels right now. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, do some quality death metal head banging instead of honking like a jerk at everyone else who’s just as stuck as you are. For some people, listening to angry music when they’re already angry might just be fanning the flames, but for me (and maybe for you)? There’s nothing like a good regressive wallow in your own pissed-off-edness to help you get over yourself.
5. Give Yourself a Time Out
Sometimes you know you’re not in a state that’s fit for polite society. When possible, I try to hole myself up in a big bundle of blankets and puppies to prevent myself from releasing my wrath upon the rest of the world when I get like this. Maybe that grocery run can wait till tomorrow, when I’m not 99% likely to ram into someone’s shins with my shopping cart.
If I can’t avoid going into society (I have to go to work, for instance), I still try to hold myself under a modified gag order. I avoid walking by the receptionist who is probably going to try to chat me up against my will. I stay away from the copier area, which is a hotbed for coworker frustration and hostility. I keep to my desk, focus on my work, and try to release as little of my foul vibes into the atmosphere as I can.
Remember how you feel in moods like this for those times you’re faced with someone who seems to be in a stabby place themself. It can be easier to deal with angry people if you remind yourself how you feel when you’re like that.
And for more tips on dealing with people in hostile moods, check out my post over at Brazen Life today, How to Deal with Angry People (or Wisdom from the Customer Service Industry).
How do YOU handle stabby days?
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