Patience. Holidays can be busy and stressful; individuals often hate waiting in line and have a strong urge for instant gratification–often leading to frustration and irritation within ourselves and also directed at others. Below represent a few tips for practicing patience and reducing that sense of urgency.
- Do not run errands during high demand or peak times. The lines at the mall, gas station, gym, and grocery store are much shorter at 8:00 p.m. than they are at 5.
- Ask an estimate. It can be difficult to wait for something when you have no idea when it will happen or how long it will take (e.g., change in car oil). You end up looking at the clock every 30 seconds. But if you know in advance how long it will be, you can go find something else to do during that time. If you can’t get an estimate, make one up: “I’ll wait for ten more minutes, then I’ll go see what’s happening.”
- Ask for the bottom line. If you find yourself getting impatient with someone you’re listening to, there’s nothing wrong with politely interrupting and asking them to get to the point. “John? (pause and wait for response) I’m starting to get lost in the details. Can you just give me a quick summary please?” This will decrease the risk for becoming impatient too.
- Communicate your limits. Whether family members, friends, or co-workers, decide how many questions you’ll answer before you say “no more”. Tell them when the quota has almost been reached. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground if you’ve been reasonable and provided fair warning. This is much better than blowing up at them because you can’t take it any more. Consider turning your phone or computer off when you need a break.
- Release your grip. Accept that sometimes things will be what they will be, no matter what you do. Try to let go of the things you can’t control. For example, instead of getting angry and engaging in “road rage,” think of slow traffic as more time to spend with your traveling companion or radio or news station. Use it as extra self time.
- Remove personal obstacles. If you’re impatient with your own progress, try to identify what’s slowing you down. Then figure out what you need to do to quicken the pace. This is one time when impatience can work in your favor!
- Use compassion. Try to understand why a person is acting the way she is, or why a situation is unfolding the way it is. There’s nothing like walking in someone else’s shoes to make you appreciate the complexity of the situation and be more relaxed about it. Equally important is practicing self-compassion.