When you see a orange light, do you press your foot down on the gas to avoid being stopped? Do you pace the floor and mutter to yourself when someone you’re waiting on is late? If so, you probably already know you’re short on patience. In this hectic, fast-paced society, you’re certainly not alone. Some people live life with an urgency to get things done as quickly as possible. But there are some good reasons to become more patient. It’s better for work health and for your health overall.
Research shows that impatient people, often dubbed type A personalities, are more prone to health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Being impatient can raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone that’s linked with weight gain in the tummy, and if you’re impatient in the car, you could be at higher risk for car accidents. Plus, when you’re so focused on getting things done quickly, you don’t have a chance to stop and “smell the roses.”
If these sound like good reasons to develop patience, there are steps you can take to change your “get it done yesterday” personality.
Don’t pack a week’s worth of projects into a day
When you over-schedule and over-commit yourself, you create time pressure that can trigger impatience. Take a close look at your plan for the week and make sure it’s realistic and achievable and isn’t adding extra pressure and stress. When you create your schedule for the day, keep an hour open as a cushion to reduce some of the time pressure and to account for unexpected delays.
Ask yourself what if?
One way to change your perspective is to ask yourself, what will happen if you can’t get something done on time? When you’re cursing because you’re stuck in traffic and can’t make it to a meeting on time, will it really matter in the big scheme of things? Chances are you’ve been looking at things from a short-term perspective, and it really won’t matter if you were late a month from now. So stop clenching the steering wheel and relax. It won’t change your world if you get to the meeting five minutes late.
Realize impatience is a decision you’ve made
If you want to be more patient, realize it’s a decision. Make a conscious resolution to change your response to life’s delays and little frustrations. You’ve trained yourself to react to these inconveniences with negative thoughts. The next time you mentally berate the checkout person because they’re not ringing you up quickly enough, consciously tell yourself to stop. Then take long, slow deep breaths until the impatience passes. Do this every time, and you’ll develop more patience. The key is to be consistent.
Find ways to release nervous energy
Many impatient people have a high-strung temperament. Find ways to deal with your need to constantly be on the go. Channel some of your energy into working out at the gym or take a brisk walk or run. Exercise is a healthful way to channel excess energy. It also clears the mind.
At the other end of the exercise spectrum, yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help you refocus your mind so you feel calmer. Sign up for a class or practice your own form of meditation when you feel impatience rear its ugly head. Visualize yourself in the mountains or by a lake with a cool breeze blowing in your hair until the feeling passes.
Create a more peaceful living and working environment
If a messy desk and lots of noise trigger frustration and impatience, change your environment. Clean up and organize your desk so you can easily find what you need, and play soothing music for relaxation. Remove the barriers to getting things done that you have control over, so you’ll stress less.
Patience, well-being and work health: You can develop more patience
Patience is a trait you can develop once you decide you want to change. Put these five “patience builders” into practice and feel your frustrations melt away. It takes practice, but patience will come if you stick with it.