Stress happens—when it does, use these techniques to keep calm, think straight and get through it with grace.
A few weeks ago, my home phone rang. On the other end was a man who said he was returning my call. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t call you,” I said. We hung up.
A minute later, another ring. Another perplexed voice on the other end, purporting to be returning my call. Another minute, yet another ring of the phone. I stopped picking up as the ringing continued.
Over the next 36 hours, we received more than 70 phone calls on our landline, all from people claiming they had received one or more calls from us. At about the midpoint, we called the police and spent a couple of hours talking with first an officer, then a detective. We were considering changing our number when, just as suddenly as the calls began, they stopped.
What happened to us is called “caller ID spoofing,” a situation when someone masks outgoing calls with an unsuspecting person’s phone number. The best recourse, it turns out, is to batten down the hatches, turn off the ringer—particularly at night—and follow good identity-protecting habits like never giving out any personal information to unknown or automated callers. Soon enough, the bad guys will realize they’re not getting anything by using your number to place fake calls to other people, so they move on.
The situation was random, confusing and supremely stressful. The biggest challenge my husband and I faced was keeping our cool as the ringing persisted and the incoming call light blinked. We had to problem-solve and decision-make as the situation unfolded—if we let the stress defeat us, the whole process would be much harder than it already was.
Here are some of the positive strategies we used to keep our cool during this bizarre, stressful situation:
1) Reach Out
We emailed neighbors to see if anyone had ever experienced a similar situation, and used the wisdom of our community to help us decide how to handle it. Reaching out to the police department also helped us feel like we were protecting ourselves and making smart choices.
2) Don’t Over-React
On the advice of the police, we didn’t change our number, which we’ve had for almost 20 years. I’m so glad we didn’t rush to change it. When something unexpected is going on, often our initial reaction is to take drastic steps to Make. It. Stop. But biggest reaction might not be the wisest—and it might even cause more work later, as changing our number certainly would have.
3) Take a Break
As I said, this situation unfolded over a period of 36 hours. Getting out of the house for breaks throughout the day gave us the all-important opportunities to step away from the problem, giving us just a bit more energy to cope with it when we returned.
4) Have Faith
I don’t mean this in a spiritual sense, though prayer can be a powerful experience in stressful moments. What I mean is to have faith that there is a solution to every problem, a way to navigate every situation and a time when every day-disrupting annoyance will be in the rear-view mirror.
How do you keep your cool when a random annoyance comes your way?