Instead of Complaining: 7 More Productive Things to Do When You’re Annoyed
It might feel great to vent when you’re PO'd, but there are better ways to use that time and energy.
Look for the positive
Sure, you might be stuck in traffic. (Will. I. Ever. Move. Again?) But now you have some extra time to listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to check out. Annoyed that rain ruined your weekend plans? At least you won’t need to water the lawn tomorrow. “Think about what might be positive or humorous about the situation,” suggests Samantha Berkule Johnson, PhD, a board-certified life coach in New York City. “Ask yourself how can you make it fun or beneficial, at least for the time being.”
“Even five to 10 minutes each day of quiet sitting, deep breathing, and clearing your mind can help alleviate anxiety and stress,” says Dr. Johnson. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that participants who meditated daily experienced more positive emotions over time. Ditch your phone and take a tiny vacation from anything complaint-worthy. It will help you reboot and may even lead to a new, positive outlook.
Hone in on why you feel prickly
“Vague, general complaints usually refer to problems that have no solution,” psychotherapist Lisa M. Juliano, PsyD, writes on PsychologyToday.com. If you’re complaining that your house is a mess, maybe the real issue is that your kids aren’t cleaning up after themselves. Whining that your boss is a jerk? You might be frustrated that late meetings are causing you to miss your train. Pinpointing the cause is the first step to seeking a solution.
Vent with a purpose
Expressing your frustrations is more therapeutic if you also brainstorm ways to improve the situation. A study in the Journal of Social Psychology surveyed college students about their relationship pet peeves, and also measured mindfulness and happiness. Participants who complained with a specific goal or solution in mind were happier than those who just complained for the sake of venting.
Write it down
“Keep a journal. When you put problems down on paper, they can seem smaller,” Robin Kowalski, PhD, the lead author of the pet peeves study, told Woman’s Day. Once you have all the evidence written in front of you, you may find the issue you were complaining about isn’t as bad as you thought.
“Make a plan, and start taking small steps toward a solution,” recommends Dr. Johnson. For example, instead of complaining that there are no good dating prospects, think of all the ways you can meet new people, and come up with a plan for how you’ll do it. Make a list of dating sites and their pros and cons. Snap new photos for your profile picture. Then choose a site and start answering the questions about yourself to create your profile. Challenge yourself to contact one or two people. Instead of complaining, be proactive and try to change the thing that’s frustrating you.
Recognize what’s out of your control
“If there’s something you can do to fix a situation that’s upsetting you, do it. If it’s beyond your power to change something, don’t complain about it, just let it go,” advises Shape.com.