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Coping Strategy for Post Pandemic Competitive Challenges: Improving our "Frustration Tolerance"

Frustration tolerance and psychological well-being

Frustration is a very common negative emotional response that arises and increases when a will or goal is denied or blocked." The ability to deal with such frustration is known as "Frustration tolerance". Frustration tolerance is a core component of psychological wellbeing. Individuals with high frustration tolerance are able to deal with setbacks successfully. Athletes with high frustration tolerance are more likely to persist in their goals, which can help them feel good and achieve more. Individuals with low frustration tolerance may grow frustrated at seemingly minor, everyday inconveniences as simple as traffic jams and noisy kids. Athletes who fall on the lower end of the frustration tolerance spectrum may face some problems in their sporting life. They may give up easily or avoid tough tasks altogether. It can take a serious toll on their achievement Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve your frustration tolerance.

Understanding Signs of Low Frustration tolerance

There are some common signs which indicate that we need to work on improving our ability to tolerate frustration. Avoiding tasks that might cause distress, Giving up immediately when presented with a challenge or obstacle, Exaggerating temporary discomfort, Frequent procrastination due to an inability to tolerate the frustration associated with a tough or boring task, Growing irritable or angry about everyday stressors, Insisting on pursuing immediate gratification, Impulsive attempts to “fix” a situation due to impatience rather than waiting for the issue to correct itself ; lastly Thinking or insisting, “I can’t stand this.”.

Causes of Low Frustration tolerance

There are several reasons why we struggle with low frustration tolerance. In certain times few mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and even Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder can decrease a person’s frustration tolerance. Personality also plays a role in frustration tolerance. Some people naturally tolerate frustrating circumstances better than others. Last but not the least, our beliefs also play a role in how well we tolerate frustration.By understanding and rehearsing the belief that "What I want,I want n my terms but I see that it may not always happen likewise. I can withstand this internal discomfort ".

Rebooting the Mind: Building Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance can be learned like any other skill or ability. With practice and consistent dedication, we can decrease the intensity of our frustration, and learn to express our feelings in more socially appropriate ways. Few strategies that can help us build frustration tolerance.

1. Increasing Self-Awareness to Accept Tough Situations

Feelings of frustration get fueled by our own thoughts like “These things always happen to me!” or “Why does my draw have to be so bad every time? This is horrible.”When we catch our self dwelling on the unfairness of life, we can consider whether it’s a situation we can change or whether we need to change the way we respond to it. If the situation is outside of our control, then focus on acceptance. We can respond to exaggeratedly negative statements with more realistic statements. Instead of thinking about the unfairness of difficult draws/situations in matches , we can remind our self, “The situation is beyond my control but what is that I can control in his situation?".

2. Learning to Calm our Body

Feelings of frustration can lead to physiological symptoms, like increased heart rate and higher blood pressure. The changes in our body might cause us to doubt our ability to deal with frustration, which can lead to a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Knowing and learning how to calm your body can be key to calming your mind. Deep breathing ,meditation and Imagery based relaxation along with physical warm-ups can help us manage the physical symptoms of frustration in a healthy way.Experimenting with different relaxation strategies until an athlete discovers what works for him/her is a healthy way to cope with uncomfortable emotions . As feelings of frustration begin to rise, we can spring into action and calm our body before our symptoms become too intense.

3. Practice Practice Practice ...Tolerating Frustration

Just like any other skill, frustration tolerance requires practice. Starting small, and working on practicing the skill till we are ready to face our discomfort can increase our frustration tolerance. Purposely try doing something that is mildly frustrating, like working on a tough puzzle or waiting in a long line. When we are successful at managing our frustration, we’ll gain confidence in our ability to tolerate distress. Over time, we can gradually expose yourself to more and more frustrating situations.

4. Right Self-Talk to Pep Yourself up

Frustration can stem from doubting one's own inability to tolerate distress. Thinking “I can’t stand it,” or “I am too overwhelmed to try again,” will increase our frustration. Such types of thoughts can also prevent us from doing tasks that might lead to feelings of frustration. Reminding ourself that we can cope with distressing feeling can help us to a great extend. Frustration stem from doubting our inability to tolerate distress.

Conclusion Finding Comfort in Discomfort - Rebooting Mind in true sense

Our low frustration tolerance isn’t permanent. We can take steps to build this tolerance, which could improve the quality of our life and experiences. Improving our frustration tolerance on our own can sometimes be difficult. Don't shy to talk to a sport psychologist or a mental health professional who can make this journey simple for you.

About the author

Amruta Karkhanis Deshmukh is a former national champion cyclist, triathlete, and long-distance swimmer and now an experienced, qualified sports psychologist. She is well placed to explain how fitness and sports professionals can develop in their client's and trainee's motivation, confidence, mental toughness, goal-setting, and visualization. She will also show how psychology and mental health can be used in clients' assessment and exercise prescription. More than ever before, psychology and mental fitness is now a critical tool in the hands of fitness/sports professionals.

About Simply Sport

Simply Sport is a sports policy research & development organization based out of India. Simply Sport’s vision is to promote sports as an effective tool for the development of the nation. It focuses on policy research, grassroots development and the use of technology in sports. To subscribe to Simply Sports Newsletters, Research & Articles, please write to You can follow Simply Sport on the Twitter handle @_SimplySport for more sports-related content.

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