‘May’ I calm you down?

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Hello 🙂 It is the month of May already and sorry for the awkward pun in my post title but let’s see if I manage to express myself well in the paragraphs ahead with those five words.

Today, my Instagram stories memory reminded me that a year ago was the last day before Singapore’s last no dine-out rule, or did they call it Phase 2 Heightened Alert which lasted for almost 2 months.

[Thought it would be cool to do a memory lane recap of the covid restrictions that happened across the past 2.5 years]

  1. 27 March 2020 – Groups capped at 10
  2. 7 April 2020 – Circuit breaker – everything but essential services had to close, no dining out and no household visits
  3. 19 June 2020 – Reopening of up to groups of 5 for dine-out and household visits
  4. 28 Dec 2020 – Increased to 8 pax for dine-out and household visits
  5. 8 May 2021 – Reduced to 5 pax for dine-out and household visits
  6. 16 May 2021 – Further reduction to 2 pax for groups and dine-out no longer allowed
  7. 22 July 2021 – Dining out is resumed, groups still capped at 2 pax
  8. 10 Aug 2021 – Increased to 5 pax for dine-out and household visits
  9. 27 Sep 2021 – Reduced to 2 pax for dine-out and household visits
  10. 22 Nov 2021 – Increased to 5 pax
  11. 15 March 2022 – Household visits to be 5 pax per time, not 5 pax per day
  12. 29 March 2022 – Increased to 10 pax, mask no longer compulsory for outdoors
  13. 26 April 2022 – No more restrictions on group sizing, no more check-in tracking (Trace Together) and 100% of workers can return to the office
    The only restrictions that exist now is that masks are compulsory indoors.

Looking back, it sounds pretty insane that we (as a nation) had to go through at least 13 sets of rule changes but hey, we have been through all those crazy days and life is pretty much almost normalised for me already, except for the indoor masking-up rules.

Okay sorry for the digression and you must be wondering why I had such a post title about ‘calming down’. I don’t know about you but many people around me (myself included) seem to be losing our cool, feeling frustrated/annoyed/upset about other people, about ourselves and about situations which we can’t control most of the time. While I am not an expert in mental health/counselling or psychology, thought that it would be good to share what are my thoughts on this and hopefully, you can realise that you are not alone and we can all provide tips on how to manage such frustrations in life. I’m still trying to learn and perhaps will forever be learning on this aspect as matters of the brain/emotions are ever-changing.

If you find yourself (or a friend) feeling agitated, angry, annoyed, or frustrated, the first step is to calm down. Try to get those negative thoughts and emotions out of your head either by distracting yourself with an activity you enjoy or perhaps just sharing the issue with someone else. For me, I am thankful that I do have friends that I’m able to share my woes and troubles to. Sometimes, I do feel apologetic that I could perhaps be taking up their precious time to listen to all my whining and repetition but I’ve realised that repeating a story many times do have an effect in calming you down. While sharing does not necessarily solve the problem, it does help in reducing that anger/agitation. All that you need to figure out is are you able to make sure you are level-headed before trying to tackle whatever issues that you have on hand. If you’re not in the correct state of mind, you may find yourself meeting with roadblocks while trying to find a solution. If you’re trying to calm a friend down and you’re totally clueless about what to do. The tip is to always listen and empathise (at least at the start). I used to be someone (and perhaps sometimes still unknowingly do) that likes to cut my friends off when they are sharing their issues. It is a really bad habit of mine, thinking I could dissect and solve the problem when I have not even listened to the whole story. Time and experience (of my own) have taught me that it is important to always let the person say her piece before trying to come in and provide a solution. Even if you’re someone who does not have many opinions in life, the fact that you’re even providing a listening ear is already a great help to the person needing to rant their frustrations out.

Should there be times when you are unable to find someone or perhaps share the situation with the people around you, a tip or two (depending on the severity of the situation) is to go anonymous online and type everything out. Alternatively, I sometimes do try to write it out (in a diary/notebook) or type it out on my phone. During the process of thinking through your words and having to let them flow through your brain, I often end up feeling a little calmer than before I started.

The next step would be to think through what are possible solutions to the issue you are facing. If it is not an issue, perhaps you can ask yourself why you are feeling so angry or agitated over something. Can there be something done to make yourself less angry about the situation or person? There’s something that my dad has been reminding me time and again about how anger belongs to the person who is dealing with it. If you’re angry, it is within yourself and you being angry not necessarily means that the person you are angry with, feels the same way as you. Emotions are owned by the person having it and you can control your own emotions. Not sure if it is a good example but sometimes when I drive, I get road rage behaviours from other drivers on the road and these could range from high beam in my rear view mirror or perhaps even angry stares/vulgarities and middle finger pointing (okay this is very rare). Most of the time, I feel that I am not at fault and it was perhaps their problem of not signalling early enough, driving too fast and not being forgiving to less than perfect drives on the road. Instead of feeling angry about the situation (and perhaps attempting a dangerous counter-attack which could range from speeding and errant overtaking), I often tell myself that I just need to be more careful in future and that I don’t have to be angry about the situation because I ain’t gonna waste my precious emotions on something that is not worthy of my time. The road rager can just continue being angry and at the end of the day, he is the one feeling frustrated but I don’t see how his actions was helpful in keeping his cool. If I am the zen person maintaining my calm and not be affected by his display of anger, I am not at the losing end and life goes on for me.

Thus, the next time you are feeling angry about someone else, stop and ask yourself if there’s any utility in that display of anger. Would you feel worse off if you are angry at a person and expecting to receive a reaction from the person you are angry with, but that person ignores you and moves on with life. There’s always at least two outcomes to every situation and before you go on to display that outburst of emotions, ask yourself if it is worth it – are you able to take the emotions of ‘feeling worse off’ than before? If not, just hold it in, breathe in, breathe out and move on with life.

I know it sounds kind of ridiculous to be thinking so much about your emotions and blah but trust me, sometimes the thinking process is also a method to help you calm down and keep your cool. Sometimes in the process, you will even question yourself why you were even so angry in the first place. There are many things in the world you can change but at the same time, there are even more things in the world that you cannot change and you have to figure out if it is worthwhile to waste time trying to fix things that are very difficult to change. The easiest thing (in my opinion) to change is to change your perception, emotions and state of mind. Trying to change someone else’s habits, temper and mindset may be a huge challenge which bears no return so in life you kind of have to pick your battles and focus on the ones that you have more confidence in. Baby steps. It is better to move the small pebbles forward than to exhaust yourself trying to move a boulder. I know my suggestions would probably not resonate with everyone as the attitude may be perceived as being ‘weak’ but at the end of the day, one of the hardest lessons in life is to know when to give up. Oops, did I go too far ahead in the game?

So after calming yourself down, thinking through the solutions, the next step is to decide on your next steps (if any). I like to put forth all my options and think of what are the possible outcomes for each option and am I able to accept the most negative repercussions of all the options. As mentioned before, certain things will make you feel worse off than before and will it be worth it? Not every frustration/anger needs to have a solution and sometimes the best solution is to not do anything at all. Time can overcome many things, but at that moment you might be too focused on the short-term to look at things through the macro lens. When having to deal with friends’ and their breakups, I often don’t have any other suggestion but to recommend that time heals all wounds and distraction is the best medicine in my opinion. There are some emotions (especially sadness) that can’t exactly be overcome and they can come back to hurt you periodically but you just have to remind yourself that the pain will lessen only with time.

Contrary to what I’ve shared above, there’s also a learning (nothing to do with anger management) that I’ve been constantly reminded of and thinking about. It is better to try/do something and regret it than to regret (for life) for not doing/trying something. This was the mantra I had towards my decision to take a career break and go for my New Zealand working holiday experience. I know that I may regret if I go for it as job search may be difficult when I return or perhaps I wouldn’t be used to the labourious jobs but the other alternative would be to spend my whole life in regret wondering why I didn’t try. Such thoughts go in and out of my mind rather frequently these days and all I can say is.. be brave and always have a Plan B.

I think the covid years have resulted in a built-up of frustrations and anger within us. I used to travel rather frequently and these vacations help to vent off some of these frustrations but with the lack of travel and increase interaction with one another, there is bound to be friction. I don’t know if it is even possible to build up the compassion bank anymore given that the ‘recharging’ outlets are limited but if you are in the proper state of mind (in comparison to someone else), it wouldn’t hurt to practice more compassion, empathy and love for the people around you. If it is possible, try to start off your day by thinking of a happy moment, a happy greeting or a happier future and try to keep the positivity alive. There should be a silver lining in every dark cloud if you search hard enough.

Random thoughts: I’ve started travelling but it seems like I’ve not continued with writing travel content. For some unknown reasons, I am not motivated to continue writing this genre, especially when everything I want to write about has already been written by someone else (usually a more branded website). When I first started blogging, I wanted a space where I could look back on my memories and perhaps share my experiences with people who ask me how was my life in US (I started because of my working holiday in USA back in 2009). Then, I progressed to writing more travel content and started positioning it in a style that seeks to give people the info they needed in their travel planning. Times have changed and web content has evolved to be beyond blogs/websites, but to social media. Somehow, the focus is no longer on the planning, but a huge emphasis is on what looks good on Instagram. Sadly, my expertise and interest does not fall within this category as I have low interest in taking nice pictures and enhancing them to look x10 better. When sharing content online (especially on Instagram stories), I have a strong preference to share live videos (capturing things at that moment), than do post edits and uploads (where people usually edit/filter and think hard on their caption). As sad as it sounds, I am generally a person that likes to see results reflected in the effort I put in but sadly the result is proven to be diminishing as I struggle to shift my own thoughts/pride/preference to fit the trends and expectations and perhaps be more relevant in what the public wants.

My site stats (web views) and performance (revenue) has fallen significantly from the pre covid days and sometimes I question myself if I should be doing anything to salvage the situation. Then, I question myself on why I started writing in the first place and realise that I wasn’t in this game for numbers or KPI. Thus, I’m gonna just continue to write what I want to write, share what I want to share and not succumb to the pressure of wanting to revive my past achievements. But that also means that I need to be realistic about wanting my website to be a recurring revenue generator as a comfortable side hustle as I retire early (in the future). Thinking too much right now but I just want to convince myself that it is alright to ‘slack’ on my side hustle. Apart from blogging relevant content and perhaps creating groundwork for my autobiography (when I’m a lot older), I love the people that I have met (in person and virtually) along the way because of my writing. Sometimes, I think that’s what keeps me going on (like ensuring I blog at least once a month) and I just want to say thank you 🙂

To whoever is reading (at any point in time), thanks for staying by my side! Hope you are feeling calm right now too.

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