Patience isn’t just an old GNR song: Letting go of ‘Insta-Stress’
“Sometimes I get so tense
But I can’t speed up the time
But you know, love
There’s one more thing to consider
Said, woman, take it slow
And things will be just fine
You and I’ll just use a little patience
Said, sugar, take the time
‘Cause the lights are shining bright
You and I’ve got what it takes
To make it, We won’t fake it,
I’ll never break it”
’cause I can’t take it” ~Guns ‘n Roses
So much of the technology we have in our homes, in our offices, our cars and even our bodies is designed to make our lives easier, and often it does – but it also allows us to do more than ever before.
Sure, it can be convenient and we all know that having a phone has saved our butts on more than one occasion. Plus, your smartphone allows you not only a continuous connection to everyone you’ve ever known, but also a companion to entertain you in waiting rooms, distract you in uncomfortable conversations and generally keep you informed on what’s happening.
So yeah, from fast food to instant contact via email and Smartphones, we are surrounded with products and services that provide instant gratification.
While there are plenty of good things about this, the drawback to all of this instant service is that it can lead to unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others and destroys our capacity for patience.
I like to call this phenomenon “Insta-Stress.” Not only is it bad for your soul, but it’s bad for your physical health too. Take a look at the diagram below from Wikipedia to see a quick overview of some of the health effects it can have on you.
What is Insta-Stress? And how can you get rid of it?
We all know how frustrating it can feel when we have to wait – for anything. Traffic, long lines at the bank or pharmacy – even our own family members who just won’t hurry up.
Over time, this frustration causes our stress levels to build and can lead to a short temper along with increased blood pressure. This can lead to even more health complications that none of us want. So what do we do? How can we avoid (or at least reduce) stress?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to increase peace, decrease stress and feel better when something’s got me hot under the collar.
Take a step back. The next time that you feel frustrated over a delay or other situation, try taking a step back and looking at the issue from a different angle.
Stewing over the circumstances isn’t helpful to anyone. Focusing on finding a solution helps your brain change gears so that you feel less stressed. It’s also easier to remain patient when you believe that a resolution is on the horizon.
Obstacles come in many forms, from physical circumstances that prevent us from moving forward to intangible circumstances and external influences that can cause delays. Regardless of the circumstances, try looking at all aspects of the situation in order to find a solution that helps you get past the obstacle.
Focus on what you’ve achieved. Many of us naturally begin to feel impatient if we’re making slow progress towards our goals. Rather than thinking about what you haven’t accomplished so far and how far you have to go, focus on the progress that you have made.
- Stay motivated and build your patience by celebrating small victories as you work toward the fulfillment of your goal.
- Take a few deep breaths when you find yourself feeling anxious about your slow progress.
- Gentle exercises that focus on stretching and breathing, such as yoga and meditation, can also help you to remain calm and patient as you work towards a goal.
Set realistic expectations. Sometimes we become impatient with ourselves and others because we have unrealistic expectations. The next time you start to stress over a delay or other obstacle, try to be more flexible with your schedule and expectations. Consider a range of results or behaviors that would be acceptable to you.
Identify your triggers and develop a plan to remain calm. Everyone has certain triggers – people, places, or things – that make them feel impatient and stressed. Figure out your most common triggers and think of ways that would help you successfully cope with them.
Laughter is the best medicine. Learn to laugh at little delays and frustrations. Make up a joke about some aspect of the situation and enjoy a chuckle. You’ll feel your stress begin to melt away.
As you use these tips to build your patience and reduce your stress, you’ll learn how to pick your battles wisely and maintain your self-control in the face of delays.