– Dr. Bridgette Jenkins led a workshop on improving frustration tolerance in the Office of Multicultural Student Services on October 9, 2014, at 11 a.m. –
PHOTO: The Millennium Student Center at UMSL. Photo by Ryan Brooks for The Current 2014 ©


By Mary Chickos, Staff writer for The Current

Dr. Bridgette Jenkins led a workshop on improving frustration tolerance in the Office of Multicultural Student Services on October 9, 2014, at 11 a.m. The class was full since, by this time in the semester, students need methods for coping with their frustrations and managing their busy lives.

Jenkins started by defining frustration as “the feeling of anger or annoyance caused by being unable to do something.” She then handed out worksheets with strategies for helping to deal with low frustration tolerance, one of which was called “My Commitment for Increasing Frustration Tolerance.”

Jenkins said that frustration tolerance was “the level of a person’s ability to withstand frustration without developing inadequate modes of response such as going to pieces emotionally.” She mentioned that frustration comes from not getting a desired outcome in a certain situation. Increasing frustration tolerance involves seeing things in a different context or frame. It is helpful to face the stressor and try to deal with it effectively. Avoidance is only a temporary reduction of anxiety. With time, avoidance only increases anxiety and tension.

Another recommended remedy is to face the tension and begin in small steps to alleviate whatever is causing pressure to someone. How might a person be able to face those situations slowly and steadily? Set reasonable goals that can be accomplished daily. Rate the stressor and think about the most terrible thing that could possibly happen. Imagine how things could be worse. Talk to the person within and try to understand the underlying feelings about the source of frustration. Design an intervention that deals with the thoughts and feelings underlying the frustration.

When addressing the worksheet techniques for dealing with low frustration tolerance, the first step focused on the power of reframing, “Watch out for words/phrases that accelerate your frustration such as ‘have to’, ‘must’, ‘can’t’ or ‘always’.” Students were instructed to describe a source of frustration in their life and identify those beliefs or statements that may be partially responsible for this frustration. Once identified, the irrational belief was changed to a rational one.

Students were then asked to make a list of situations in which they overacted, and practice facing at least one of these each day or each week. Depending upon the severity of the frustration, they should attempt trying to increase their tolerance slowly.

Jenkins also shared that sometimes rating the frustration puts it into context. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the worst, how terrible is the situation? Proper context can help to develop the skills to handle stressful events. This increases confidence and helps to deal with future similar situations.

Thinking of skills that have worked in other situations and applying them to the identified current source of frustration can help also.

When frustrated, one should remember to ask, how does the frustration make you feel? What personally can be done to reduce and eventually eliminate these feelings? Making active choices, instead of just reacting, can greatly decrease feelings of stress and frustration and give a better sense of control over life in general. Working to increase tolerance for frustrations that cannot be avoided will help stay calmer in facing life situations.

© The Current 2014