Do you struggle with people that don’t know how to calm down or have issues dealing with anxiety? Is it reaching the point where it’s making you anxious?
As if we didn’t already have enough problems of our own, some folks have a talent to overwhelm us with their own stuff by unloading their anxiety and issues on others. It doesn’t help that technology enables this type of conduct with everything “instant”. Yes, instant gratification, instant messaging, instant purchases. Everybody expects to be heard and receive a response to all their queries right away.
Today’s technology (mainly smartphones) is mostly to blame because it encourages happy-trigger, compulsive people to give in to their urge to have everything now while discouraging self-restraint. So, sometimes you have to “intervene” and be the broken link in the anxiety cycle to give everyone a chance to chill, breathe, recompute, and figure things out on their own before unloading all their preoccupations on you.
To that end, I’ve put together a list of ways to preserve your sanity and happiness by preventing others from thrusting their anxiety upon you.
Here Are a Few Tips to Use When Dealing With People That Don’t Know How to Calm Down
To put some distance between yourself and negative folks, sometimes you just need to literally walk away. This could be useful when your office’s phone is constantly ringing, and you just know that the caller is that person. You know the type – you send them an e-mail and they don’t even read it; rather, they just have to call you the very second they get it.
This is common with anxious or indecisive people that give in to anxiety the moment uncertainty arises. These folks need to be given an opportunity to figure stuff out on their own. Indeed, maybe the issue resolves itself while you go for a short walk in the hallway or pretend you need to go to the bathroom. This assumes, of course, that the person calling you can’t actually see you while you walk away from their call!
Turn Off Push Notifications on Your Smartphone
The number of e-mails, texts, instant messages, and alerts from different apps that we can get in a day can be overwhelming and annoying. Understandably so, it can push the best of us over the edge.
Luckily, most of these alerts are irrelevant or unnecessary, meaning it’s easy to get rid of them without it having a meaningful impact on our lives. So, remember that the Facebook or Instagram notifications can wait until you decide to log in to the app; you don’t need a pop-up every 5 minutes.
The same is true for e-mails. Unless your job requires you to be on-call, if a message doesn’t really need an immediate response (other than to satisfy the sender’s compulsiveness) wait until the next day.
Put Your Phone on Vibrate
Isn’t it annoying to hear a phone’s constant “ping” every time you get a text or instant message? Even more so if it’s one “ping!” right after the other. It can be startling when you’re focused and in the middle of something, only to be completely distracted and taken away from what could’ve been a great train of thought. A good way to deal with stress and just be more relaxed is to simply set your phone to vibrate.
Try it! It’s easy, cheap, and efficient!
Ignore People After Hours
Back in the day, there used to be a cutoff time after which people should not call. Today, that social norm seems to have dissipated, with the idea of a cutoff time apparently going out the window. Many persons are seemingly clueless and will sometimes text others close to midnight with work-related questions and the like.
Somehow some folks think this is acceptable, so it’s up to you to stop it because, unless it’s an emergency, it is not. This has to do with managing people’s expectations about what they can and will get from you and, most importantly, when will they get it. Show others that you have a life too and you’re not available 100% of the time.
Don’t Become Everyone’s Go-To Person
The curse of being well-versed in almost everything, or very “techie”, or a microexpert in prominent subjects, is that you’ll have everyone knocking on your door to solve their problems all the time.
Why? Well, because they’re too lazy to Google it or do the research themselves. So show some hesitation (or feign ignorance if necessary) every now and then!
Take A Long Bathroom Break
This can serve to give you a breather, literally! No one will question or fight your natural, but very opportune, urge to go to the bathroom. And, while the person might still be there when you come out -ready to unload all of his or her problems on you- at least you’ve given them a few minutes to wrap up their thoughts and calm down a bit.
A good piece of advice for when someone is getting too antsy is to get the person to let cold water run through their hands. You know, in case they insist on accompanying you to the bathroom!
Manage Others’ Expectations
If you constantly get people used to getting an immediate response to their texts, e-mails, and phone calls, they’ll come to expect that from you all the time. It’s like feeding a beast whatever it wants, whenever it wants; it’ll want more and more, until one day it bites off your arm.
I think of this every time I see a sign at a park that says: Do not feed the animals. It sounds simple, yet it’s there for a reason.
Have Lunch or Coffee Outside the Office
Get lost for a short while, even if you have to say you have a prior engagement. The engagement can be with yourself! We are all allowed to spend some quiet time to disconnect from a toxic environment and recharge. Lunchtime or coffeetime are perfect opportunities to put your phone on silent mode for at least 25 minutes.
Appear Like You’re More Anxious Yourself
This is a bit extreme, but sometimes you’ve just got to complain right back. People will realize they’re not the center of the universe, and leave you alone with your misery sooner than you think!
This is a great technique to avoid being bothered and burdened by others, but most useful is the fact that it helps you stay away from negative people. So, appear busy all the time and in an urge to get somewhere, and most people will get the clue.
Have Classical Music in the Background to Calm Them Down
This is soothing and calming for you, and also helps set the mood for whoever chooses to enter your space. It’ll at least serve to make other folks slow down before they open their mouths in panic and bombard you with stuff.
Because, who can start screaming when you’re listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Pachelbel’s Canon in D (yes, the full version of the traditional wedding march song), or, really, anything by Bach. Want to see how soothing it is? Try listening while driving!
Give them Food so they Shut Up
When all else fails and you seem to be unable to come up with anything that can help break the anxiety loop, offer the person something to eat. If you’re at your desk, it might be a good chance to pretend you want a snack yourself, and offer something to the person. A good stash of snacks in your desk’s drawer can prove very helpful!
Dealing with anxiety is not easy; we all do what we can to manage life’s demands while keeping our sanity. When you invest time and resources in self-care techniques like taking time for yourself, having a hobby, and talking to a therapist, you are better equipped to deal with other people who might barge in to your day, and unload their own anxiety on you.
But this doesn’t mean you have to take it all in! While it’s good to lend a friendly ear, you have to strike a balance and know when to tune out for your own sanity. When that time arrives, hopefully one of these twelve tips comes in handy. 🙂
That’s my take!
Do you struggle with people that don’t know how to calm down? How do you stop this from affecting you? What things do you find useful when dealing with anxiety?
Tom @ Dividends Diversify says
Interesting Lily. I tend to be one that struggles with anxiety. But I don’t unload on others, I internalize it. Which is a separate issue. I think you have written about relaxation techniques before that address the problem at the source. Tom
The Rich Miser says
I’m the same, and tend to internalize my anxiety. Still, when others unload their anxiety onto you, I find that they exacerbate your own anxiety (in turn creating more of a need to dissipate it using relaxation techniques and the like).
Lily, I like number 9. In fact you could just amplify their “sky is falling” message by saying they are right and get them so wound up they eventually run down the hall screaming! Well, ok, maybe that would be mean. Seriously those are great ideas. Life is too short to spend most of your time with people that don’t build you up. Sometimes you need to help others cope but most of those people you were talking about seem to enjoy their misery and want to spread it around.