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9 Things You Can Do When There is Nothing You Can Do!

Posted Jan 14 2010 7:00am


We have all been there, sitting in the middle of a bad situation that we have absolutely no control over.  We feel frustrated, angry and anxious, perhaps even a little afraid.  We wrack our brains to try to come up with some sort of a solution- even though we know the truth; there is nothing we can actually do- or is there?

When in a situation that we cannot change, we have but one solution, and that is to change ourselves.  So, what can we do when there is nothing we can do?

1.      Recognize and accept that we cannot control or change the situation.

This first step will serve to immediately decrease your level of frustration.  Acceptance of our lack of control helps us to regain control over ourselves, and allows us to refocus our energy on what we can control and potentially change.

 2.      Breathe!

Stop and observe the feelings in your body.  Are your muscles clenched?  Is your heart racing?  Is your breathing shallow or are you holding your breath?  Take control of your breathing.  1) Breathe in through your nose for a slow, five count.  2) Hold it. 3) Breathe out through your mouth for a slow four count.  Now, observe your body’s reactions to your controlled breathing.  Repeat until your heart rate and breathing return to normal.  When you regain control of your physical response your emotions will follow!

 3.      Smile!

It may sound silly, but the simple act of smiling releases the tension in the muscles in your face.  It also serves to “remind” the body of happier times and releases more pleasant memories from your past experiences. 

 4.      Take a mini vacation

Visualization is a powerful tool that has been used for centuries to alleviate pain and lessen the effects of stress.  Take a moment and picture a place where you feel peaceful and safe.  Place yourself there.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  Perhaps you are picturing yourself at the beach.  Hear the waves crashing against the shore.  Smell the salt in the air.  Allow yourself to experience yourself in the moment. With practice you will be able to achieve that sense of calm and peace by simply thinking of your special place, when feelings of stress threaten to overtake you.

 5.      Distract Yourself

Simply put, do something else! Clean your desk, wash the dishes, watch a mindless sitcom.  Do anything that takes your mind off of the situation for even a few moments. This can give you the time you need to regroup and ease some of your tensions.

 6.    Pray or Meditate

 Studies show that the acts of prayer and meditation can relieve stress, lower your heart rate and moderate your breathing.  It can also have a considerable effect on your mood and outlook.

 7.      Get moving!

Do a few quick stretches, walk to the water fountain, or take a jog. Do whatever your time and ability permits in order to get moving.  The goal is to help relieve muscle tension, increase blood flow, and release endorphins to help lift your mood and improve your physical health to boot!

8.      Have an attitude of gratitude

Create a list of all the things you are grateful for.  Nothing is too small to include.  Your list of gratitude will remind you that your life is bigger than your current circumstances!

 9.      Do Something for someone else

Committing a random act of kindness helps us to move beyond ourselves and focus on another.  It can also improve someone else’s moment!  Pay it forward!

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