I’ve noticed recently that a strong sense of impatience regularly arrives in my body – a tightness in my tummy, clenching in my throat, jaw and face, with stifled restricted breath accompanied by thoughts about wishing time would pass by quickly so that we can all “get back to normal”, whatever that means. I notice a sense of grasping into the future, fantasising about seeing my friends, going away, having time on my own at home and being free from the clutches of this invisible virus. Although I try to reassure myself that there is hope with the vaccine rollout – the impatience arrives and is vying for my attention.
I am thankful to practise mindfulness in those moments, as a way of helping me to be with this visitor, allowing it to pass through me, with an attitude of friendliness and acceptance. In fact mindfulness and patience goes hand in hand.
Here are FOUR Strategies that can help you to manage impatience:
PAUSE AND BREATHE
As soon as you notice feeling impatient, your body may become tense and breathing shallow and tight, as the sympathetic nervous system is triggered. It can be helpful to set an intention to pause – just stop what you’re doing if possible and take your awareness to the breath. Take several slightly deeper, slower breaths, feeling the body expanding and then contracting with each breath. Regulating your breathing in this way can help to soften tension in the body and trigger the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system.
RECOGNISE AND NAME
Practising mindfulness can help you to recognise what impatience feels like in the body and become aware of when impatient thoughts arrive in the mind. It can be helpful to begin to acknowledge these sensations and thoughts by naming them as they arise, with a friendly sense of curiosity.
ALLOW AND ACCEPT
Whenever we notice unpleasant sensations or emotions in our body we can easily try to resist them by engaging in the repetitive storylines about why we feel impatient and how awful it all is. This will only feed the impatience and also keep it trapped in the body. See if you can practice gently turning your awareness towards feeling the sensations of impatience in the body with a friendly attitude of accepting and allowing. Simply feeling the sensations of perhaps tightness, clenching, heat etc and breathing into them as a way of softening and soothing can help.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Remember that being human brings with it a natural rollercoaster of emotions passing through our bodies each day. It can be really helpful to cultivate and utilise your resources of kindness, such as saying kind phrases to yourself, recognising that we all feel like this sometimes, that it’s ok to experience all emotions and finally ask yourself “what is it that I need right now to help me?” Maybe a chat with a friend, a cup of tea, a walk or to sit and practise mindfulness. This five minute Self Compassion Break practice may also help.