How to Cope with Stressful Social Situations: the Sneer Campaign Method

One of the worst parts of existence is that annoying, stressful human beings are out there. For some of us, encounters with these unpleasant people happen with astounding frequency. Myself, I am essentially a complete recluse, and still have these encounters. Fortunately, I am the most dramatic delicate daisy on earth and do everything in my power to avoid whatever the stressful situation is — I am an expert.

An old sneer campaign image is used here. Amandoll is in the foreground of a picture that is mostly maroon. There is a crowd of people who seem to be dancing, in silhouette. Amandoll is angry, scowling, circles around her eyes and holding her wrist up to show a wrist watch. The words say "there are many ways to live a life."

If you have arrived here looking for information on living with, and trying to reduce, a long-lasting stressful existence, I am going to direct you to Dollissa’s article on the Stages of Stress. If you are forever anxious and want some help, that is where you must go. Here, today in this post, I am going to help you out with dealing with an event as it is happening, in action. Even if you are old frenemies with feelings of anxiety, that somehow does not prepare you for handling bad time scenarios. It is the cruelest joke of all!

So, there you are, fretting along doing your daily business, not bothering anyone unless they notice your signs of anxiety and therefore increase their own tension, when IT happens. An unasked for confrontation, a stranger on the street addresses you, an unexpected knock on the door, even an app game interrupted by that big notification that you are receiving a call and you wait, paralyzed, afraid that you might accidentally click on the “answer call” button — all of these things are terrible, and there are even worse things out there, too. How should you handle them?

Ignore It

Give whatever the problem is the cold shoulder. Simply pretend that it doesn’t exist. Plenty of wrong people do that when faced with correct facts, and you can do that with someone trying to talk to you. “Oh, sorry, I was too busy thinking, I didn’t see you there as I walked past you as though you were no more than a fence post.” Except, you don’t actually say that. You say that only if they run ahead of you again and stop you. A nightmare. Maybe try to close your eyes and cover your ears?

Some of you might be instantaneously thinking of scenarios where this might not work. After all, if you ignore a cop, you might become fatally shot forty times. You might offend someone, too! Awful. Well, I wrote this post to give you delicious options, my friends. You have to learn to bravely adapt while engaged in cowardly pursuits!

This is a scene from a former comic. It is a single panel. The background colors are meant to evoke a little tea with honey and milk in it. On the left, the Amandoll character is looking into a tea mug, saying, "It tastes pretty good." On the right, the cchris character is facing away from her, looking vaguely annoyed. Above him are the words "Pointedly Ignoring."
Tea AND ignoring in one panel! What an image segue! *chef kiss*

Tea. Always Tea

It is widely known that herbal infusions and uncaffeinated teas promote relaxation and calm. When your life partner whips out a “we have to talk” in a grave tone, may I suggest that you get up and brew some chamomile tea. You can offer some to them as a peaceful token, or you can sit there in silence while drinking cup after cup.

Eventually, you will need to be excused to use the restroom. At that time, you could take the opportunity to slither out of the window and start a different life, away from any serious discussion and possibly messy break up. Start a new life where everyone is only pleasant and nothing will ever be unpleasant again. This is how an expert drinks a cup of tea, if you didn’t know.

Have You Tried Yoga?

It is widely known that the ancient exercise called “yoga” promotes relaxation and calm as well as offering a whole body fitness. Everyone’s favorite, YouTube star Yoga With Adriene, is a lithe and flexible Mr Rogers of our time, giving us authentic emotional support from a screen while nourishing us in the soul department. I am sure she would agree with me if she knew I was telling you that, when you are in a stressful moment, taking yogic breaths would dissipate the trouble. Do a little Lion’s Breath in the face of an accuser. Practice your Crow Pose in order to subdue a circumstance that has an oppositional, confrontationalistic nature.

Ideally, your use of yoga would inspire the other person to join you, to nourish and soothe their own souls such that their journey will include less aggression. Maybe if they joined in stretching, they would loosen up and bid you farewell at the moment you say namaste. Or maybe they would be baffled and leave in something akin to disgust. Either way. Either way.

Soak in a Bath

I do love a good bath, and I sincerely hope that you do too. I know that some dwellings have only shower stalls, and some have the cursed bathtub that has a vertical back?? Why were those ever even made, let alone purchased and installed in any home! But a good warm bath, and the accompanying sounds of running water, is to me the pinnacle of relaxation. If you are being faced with that knock on the door that you weren’t expecting — just get up and go take a bath. You can even take a shower for this. You have built the excuse that you couldn’t hear them, darn! What timing! And even better, you won’t be able to hear them if they keep at it! Wash that horrible noise right out of your ears!

A simple little drawing of Amandoll happily scrubbing her arm while in a bubble bath in a deep clawfoot tub.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you. I can only hear cleanliness and well-being.”

I would like to add that other benefits of avoiding a social interaction by bathing include being a fresh clean person more than once in a day! However, down sides include: dry skin and a higher water bill and electric bill from the water heater. You can only wash away a large utility bill with very minimal success. :(

Go To Sleep

If you can see no other option at the present moment, but know that the problem can be put off just a little while longer, then you should go to sleep. I would almost call it a napcident, except that it is a somewhat deliberate act. Some of my most restful slumbers have been because I have been so absolutely stressed out that I go limp and slide into unconsciousness. You might have to tell people that you “aren’t feeling well” in a vague way, but don’t worry — it is not a lie. Stress causes ill feelings! Close your eyes and let it all go away for a while.

It feels kind of sad to admit that you would rather be asleep than awake. That you are willing to let these minutes go by that you’ll never get back, just because you are filled with so much nervous tension that you don’t really feel like you are living. Use this method with care, and not too often. It is easy to nap your way into Depressionville.

Consult Your Network

Some problems might recur. Someone might not leave you alone. You might need to make an appointment, or dear god no — a formal complaint! This is when you contact one or more of your friends. Outsource your situation to a person who is better-suited to dealing with it. Keep some friends who are willing to use the phone on your behalf so that you can have a refund, or a replacement sent, or so that a US Senator will hear your voiced opinion. Keep some friends who would not mind, indeed — may even find joy in — verbally slicing a villainous character on your behalf.

A silly little fast drawing of Dollissa, a fluffy haired girl holding a beer and dancing enthusiastically while wearing a golden dress, green tights, pink shoes, and a peach jacket. Her glasses and open mouth are large. There are words, a quote that says, "Confrontation *for* a friend?! Yes, please!"
This is Dollissa and she is a good friend.

You can’t use this gift freely all willy nilly though. This step requires friendship responsibility. You had better have a quality that these friends lack, so that you can do a favor for them some day. It is only fair! And then you won’t have to deal with the stress of a friendship going sour because you are an unrepentant mooch.

Address the Concern

If the unthinkable happens and the situation you are desperately trying to avoid doesn’t resolve itself on its own and is in fact still there, you might have to hope for a moment to arise where you are strong enough to simply handle the matter yourself. Face the music, they say. Sometimes that happens, and no one is sorrier than I am to have to inform you of that.

Some tough characters in your life might tell you that it is a personality-strengthening exercise to be able to confront a scenario, person, or group of people. That it is liberating to know that you can stand tall and look them in the eye and say, “no. Leave me alone. Go away from me. I am not here for you to interact with.” That you will have self-confidence going forward, and will fear no future interactions.

That may well be the case, but I feel disinclined to test that theory until the day these confrontations do not involve sounds and physical form. Ugh. Just thinking about it is bringing a nap on, I think. Goodnight to you all.

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