Give Yourself The Gift of Patience This Holiday Season
The holidays can be a stressful time. Whether it’s dealing with gift-shopping, holiday traveling, or navigating big family get-togethers, this is a time of the year where even the most well-meaning of people can contribute to your stress levels. There are several strategies you can use to manage stress during the holidays, but one of the most important things you can do for yourself year-round is to cultivate patience.
They call patience a virtue for a reason. Being patient isn't just good for maintaining relationships and keeping your cool during a traffic jam—it can improve your physical and mental health.
A Patient Mind Means A Healthier Body
A 2007 study conducted by UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons and Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker found that patient people were less likely to report certain health problems that included:
Additional research has shown that people who are easily irritable and impatient tend not to sleep well and have more health complaints. The Mayo Clinic has also established that lower stress levels can lower your blood pressure, and patience is a great way to manage your stress and keep it from spiking to unhealthy levels.
Calm Mind, Full Heart, Can't Lose
How To Cultivate Patience
Being patient, like so many essential mental health practices, is a skill. If you’re an impatient person, you don’t have to stay that way—there are things you can do to practice and strengthen your patience like a muscle.
- Breathing exercises: When you start to feel overwhelmed, an easy and effective way to calm your nerves and center yourself is to focus on your breathing. The Mayo Clinic has found that breathing exercises can ease your stress and take your mind off something that’s troubling you.
- Reframing: If you are in a situation that’s testing your patience, remember that it’s a matter of perspective. If you find yourself waiting for someone who’s late, try to think of those 10-15 minutes of lateness as an opportunity for you to call a friend or catch up on reading. Stuck in traffic? Use that time to listen to some music you lose. It also helps to remember that you’re usually not the only person in a frustrating situation—that person holding up the line ahead of you probably wants to get out of there just as much as you do. Having empathy for others is an important part of being patient.
- Mindfulness: Like breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises are a great way to keep yourself relaxed and calm.
- Practice gratitude: Studies have shown that adults who feel grateful are also better at being able to patiently delay gratification. Keeping your blessings in mind and remembering what is going right in your life can help you stay centered and even-keeled when something is going wrong. Get yourself a journal and write down three things you’re grateful for everyday. The practice of spending five minutes of your day reflecting on what you appreciate about life can do wonders for your stress and your ability to remain patient in trying times.