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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control

How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control

Do you remember being told as you were growing up that patience is a virtue?

Over the years, I have also learned that patience is a necessity. It’s one of the key qualities needed to achieve what we want with ease and flow.

Obviously, it’s an important trait, but it is one not many of us find easy to embrace. It might sound simple when we tell someone to be patient, but the hurdle is in how to learn patience.

And what does it mean anyway?

The Collins Dictionary says,[1]

“If you have patience, you are able to stay calm and not get annoyed. For example, when something takes a long time or someone is not doing what you want them to.”

Easier said than done eh?

The thing is, becoming patient more often is also crucial in keeping our stress levels down. Blowing our top regularly causes an increase in the release of stress hormones and, in the long term, can even lead to high blood pressure.

As a teenager, I remember being very impatient. I would lose it at the drop of a hat, especially if you put me near a sewing machine. These days it’s more likely poorly timed traffic lights that can get my goat if I’m not being mindful.

Also, in this age of instant gratification and the speed of the online world, it’s becoming more difficult to be patient. We tend to expect things to happen immediately, but often they don’t.

The good news is that as we age, we tend to acquire this skill more naturally. And during my lifetime I have become aware of some simple practices that help. Here are 5 simple practices to learn patience.

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1. Remind Yourself Why Learning Patience Is Important

Aside from the obvious health benefits of being patient, there are also other reasons why this virtue is essential. I always find these reasons to be helpful during my greatest challenges.

If we get annoyed or frustrated, it affects our attitude, thinking, and behavior. We become less productive and lose focus and clarity. Impatience also causes us to communicate poorly, which can harm our relationships.

When we stay calm, we become more mindful in our daily lives because we see things differently. We become more compassionate towards others improving our relationships. Plus, we get so much more done in much less time because we are more focused.

There is also the energetic component of impatience. If we regularly lose our cool, we create an energetic space of resistance. This makes it difficult to achieve what we want and slows the manifestation process down.

Through the virtue of patience, we place ourselves in the energetic space of allowance. This means we can achieve more, often in less time and without the need to push. We create a pull motion instead.

Reminding yourself of this if you’re tempted to fly off the handle will help.

2. Breathing Properly Calms the Nerves

If we feel stressed out or impatient it’s a sign we are too much into our thoughts.

Ruminating and wanting something to happen immediately causes our stress levels to rise. And before we know it, we are steaming from the ears. Doing this repetitively means it eventually becomes an automatic response and difficult to change.

At times like this, we tend to shallow breathe. In fact, we spend most of our waking hours in shallow breaths. And it’s only when we become more mindful about our breath that we change it.

Shallow breathing causes the supply of oxygen to the brain to be decreased. This stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the “fight-flight” response. In this survival response, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and our muscles tense ready for action. This increases the negative emotion.

So, shallow breathing causes a vicious cycle. We can reverse this cycle by breathing deeply and more slowly.

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The American Institute of Stress says,[2]

“Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”

By regularly practicing deep breathing, we feel more connected to our bodies in our daily lives. This interrupts that automatic stress response, allowing us to be more patient.

You can also use your deep breath to calm down during a heated moment too.

3. Meditation Helps You Learn Patience

This is a practice that so many people avoid or think they can’t do, but the benefits are great. This includes the resulting increase in patience.

We need to practice the art of patience to meditate and through the process of regular meditation, we increase our capacity to be patient. This is through the journey of learning to manage our minds.

As a coach and meditation teacher, I have realized that many people have a misunderstanding of meditation. Most people I meet who don’t meditate think it is about switching off their minds. They have a belief that to practice this ancient art “correctly,” they need to have no thoughts.

Well, this just isn’t true. Our thoughts are a necessary part of meditation, and here’s why.

Meditation is the practice of learning to manage our thoughts to enable us to focus on one thing. It is the process of being the observer of our thoughts instead of buying into them. This allows our thoughts to just pass through so we can return to our point of focus.

As we do this daily, even if just for ten minutes, we learn to quiet our minds and this increases our levels of patience. Every one of us can meditate when we change the way we see it and understand its true purpose.

By adopting your own practice and making it part of your daily routine, your levels of patience will rise.

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4. Switch Your Focus to Something More Resourceful

Just as we move our focus from our thoughts during meditation, we can also do this if we feel impatient. Regularly meditating will help you do this during the day.

As we move our focus, our frustration levels decrease.

The way we feel is a result of what we are thinking about. If we feel annoyed about something, it’s generally because we are telling ourselves it should be some other way.

For example, if we keep getting red traffic lights on the way to work, we might feel frustrated. This is normally because we think it should be different or we tell ourselves we don’t have time or we will be late.

There is no way to change the red traffic lights right? It is what it is!

Or is there?

You see, when we change our focus to something else—let’s say we start to look for green trees or green cars—it will change the way we feel. We calm down.

There is also the belief that “what we focus on, we get more of”. As we focus on more green objects, we notice the traffic lights become green as we travel to work.

Now, you may call me crazy, but hear me out here because I have done this so many times.

In the “strong force” described in quantum physics, it is said that like particles attract like particles.[3] This means that when we focus on what we want, we attract more of that.

While we keep ruminating about how things should be different, we freeze up this process and cause more impatience. We also experience more of what we don’t want.

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By moving your focus to something else before you feel like hitting the roof, you will start to feel more patient. This allows the flow of quantum physics to work in your favor. You can even do this after you’ve been triggered, too.

5. Acceptance Is the Key

Apart from the positive results that can be gained by changing our focus, there is often nothing that can be done to change things. At times like this, it really is what it is.

Whether we can or can’t change things, the practice of acceptance will help us stay calm. This is another of those important virtues and it’s not about giving up.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we are happy about what’s happening. And it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t want to change things. It just means we don’t want to give ourselves an even harder time. We just want to let it go.

In the process of letting it go, we begin to feel calm and more patient again. This also increases our levels of compassion and understanding with others, too., which brings positive benefits to our relationships.

So, if you feel like you are about to lose your temper with something or someone, remind yourself that it is what it is. Decide to let go and then choose from a more resourceful space what you might like to change.

To Sum It Up

Patience is indeed a virtue, but it also a necessary trait to live a happy and fulfilled life. Our physical health and mind have the greatest leverage over everything we experience and achieve.

This quality is not only a trait—it is also a way of being. And when we learn to live as a more patient person, every part of our life will improve.

More Tips on How to Learn Patience

Featured photo credit: Ümit Bulut via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Collins Dictionary: Patience
[2] The American Institute of Stress: Take a Deep Breath
[3] Heart Space: Does The Law of Attraction Exist in Quantum Physics?

More by this author

Deb Johnstone

Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

How to Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted How to Survive a Quarter Life Crisis (The Complete Guide) How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control 9 Self Limiting Beliefs That Are Holding You Back from Success How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

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Published on February 26, 2021

3 Common Causes Of Stress That Are Depleting Your Energy

3 Common Causes Of Stress That Are Depleting Your Energy

Are you feeling amplified anxiety, sadness, or anger lately? An astounding 84% of adults have felt at least one of these stress-related emotions in the two weeks prior to being surveyed, according to this recent Stress in America report.[1] Although it’s often comforting to know you’re not alone, the pervasiveness of this particular shared experience is disconcerting. But first, what causes stress?

What Causes Stress?

Lurking beneath the surface of this collective situation are some deeper factors: feelings of powerlessness and a diminished sense of certainty.

Due to a variety of events over the past year, control over numerous elements of our lives has been stripped away, leaving us feeling frustrated, afraid, and unsure about the future. It’s as if someone took the puzzle of our lives, broke apart every segment we had painstakingly pieced together, then shook them up and dumped them into a scrambled mess on the floor. On top of that, we’re trying to put it all back together while slogging through in survival mode, every day, on repeat—it’s enough to make even the Energizer Bunny feel depleted.

From this place of disempowered overwhelm, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like there is little we can do to regain our footing and overcome the stress. However, that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Let’s look on the bright side: We can all improve our energy and relieve stress simply by shifting a few essential habits.

When everything feels out of control, here are 3 often-overlooked areas where you can be in control and obliterate the common causes of stress that are depleting your energy. Each is proven to directly compound stress and deplete energy when neglected but enhance energy and stress relief when managed proactively.

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1. Sleep Quality Secrets to Snub the Stubborn Stress-Fatigue Cycle

You may be well aware of how stress disrupts or prevents a good night’s rest. Frustrations over the day’s events or anxiety about what’s coming tomorrow are common blocks to getting enough zzzz’s. But did you know that the reverse is also true?

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. One such study found that subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. They also cited a dramatic improvement in mood upon return to normal sleep. [2]

In addition to these directly mood-related symptoms, lack of sleep can cause muddled focus, fatigue, and impairment of information processing which often result in secondary causes of stress. We feel like the walls are falling around us as we run behind schedule, struggle to collect scrambled thoughts, suffer the consequences of knee-jerk reactions, and fight the inevitable downsides of exhaustion, including clouded judgment, inhibited self-control, and difficulty in making decisions or completing tasks.

Unfortunately, our favorite fixes are actually counterproductive. Two of the most common substances used in direct response to not getting enough sleep—alcohol to relax us enough to fall asleep and caffeine to perk us up after inadequate sleep—only worsen our ability to secure consistent and restful slumber, creating a vicious cycle. Relying on these “band-aid fixes” only amplifies and prolongs our feelings of stress.[3][4]

Ultimately, sleep deprivation secretly undermines our ability to make smart choices when it comes to regaining control over the other causes of stress which are depleting our energy.

Here are two simple tips to help you sleep better tonight:

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  • Turn off all screens at least one hour before hitting the hay to send the signal to your brain that it’s bedtime and ease your mind into sleepy relaxation.
  • Be intentional with your soothing bedtime rituals. Instead of mindlessly passing the time in the hours before you turn in, focus on an activity that feels soothing and nurturing like a foot massage or a few gentle yoga poses.

2. Focus on Comfort Food for Extra Energy and Simple Stress Relief

The word “malnutrition” is commonly associated with poverty-related food shortages. However, in the medical world, the prefix “mal-” is also defined as “defective.” By broadening our understanding of this term, we can see that nutrient deficiencies can happen for people of any socioeconomic status—and they do.

The hustle culture endorsed by the industrialized world has created an abundance of quick and convenient food (and, let’s be honest, “fake food”) options that are minimally nourishing. The USDA’s most recent Dietary Guidelines reports that about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, yet inadequate intake of nutrients that are proven to both relieve stress and increase energy (e.g., B vitamins and magnesium) remains common.[5][6] The data clearly shows that, for the majority of adults in the USA, the quality of our food is disproportionate to the quantity.

This reality has been compounded by pandemic-related stress eating, which is so prevalent that participants of a study published in September 2020 averaged a staggering 7 lbs weight gain in only 4 months.[7] This snapshot demonstrates that the foods we tend to crave, either for comfort or convenience, are usually high in sugars, saturated fats, and simple carbohydrates—all of which actually amplifies the stress response in the body.[8]

There is a funny-not-funny irony in the fact that the acronym for the U.S. eating style is SAD (Standard American Diet). We readily sacrifice nutrient needs for the sake of saving our time and money, which are poured right back into the culture that requires us to be so busy. We are drawn to unhealthy comfort foods like moths to a flame in an attempt to soothe ourselves—yet these exact foods only lead to feeling even more stressed and depleted.

So, what can we do?

Making smart food choices in itself is inherently stressful for many people. The internal battle can be just as impactful in causing stress and depleting your energy as the food choices themselves. If you can relate, don’t worry. It’s not necessary to focus on calorie counting or weight loss here.

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Instead, take comfort in a couple of easily doable steps toward shifting your dietary habits:

  • Be mindful of your intake of highly processed foods, and enjoy the benefits of simply adding a few stress-relieving, energizing foods and beverages to your daily repertoire.
  • Water, green tea, Brazil nuts, sweet potatoes, fresh baby spinach, brown rice, avocados, oatmeal, bananas, salmon, lean beef, and blueberries are all great choices to get you started.

3. A Surprising Battle for Your Attention, and How to Win the War

The pressure to be “always-on” has long been a major cause of stress for highly driven people. We live in an internet-centric world that has only been compounded by the circumstances of the pandemic. Working from home has blurred the lines between personal and professional boundaries, and many are suffering the consequences.

The combination of issues culminating from the past year has also kept people glued to the media and their newsfeeds. If you ever feel angry, anxious, sad, hopeless, or exhausted after watching the news or scrolling social media, this could be one of the main causes of stress that is depleting your energy. In fact, a study showed elevated levels of stress hormone (cortisol) and increased negative response to subsequent stressors after watching negative news.[9]

Research even shows that smartphones and social media apps manipulate the dopamine-driven reward system in our brains to create a habit that mimics gambling addiction.[10] Even when these tools don’t cost money, they have the capacity to deplete something much more valuable—our time, energy, and peace of mind.

This volatile mix may be generating a baseline cause of stress that has led directly to some of the other causes of stress mentioned in this article, including lack of sleep, alcohol or caffeine use, and unsupportive food choices/mindless eating.

Now, more than ever, we need to resist the urge to bombard our brains with fear-based information and distraction-inducing habits.

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Forward-focused actions to take now:

  • Create firm boundaries around your “check-in” time for reading and responding to emails or social media, both personal and professional.
  • Disable notifications on your devices to eliminate distractions.
  • Eliminate or minimize news exposure and only consume news from deliberately selected sources.
  • Stay focused on your top priorities and make sure your actions are aligned. Put this note on your screensaver/wallpaper as a reminder: “Is my behavior getting me what I want?”

Putting the Pieces Back Together

By flipping our perspective, we can see these lifestyle choices as the active causes of stress that they are, instead of stress aftereffects that are outside of our control. Circumstance might have made a mess of our puzzles, but we each have the power to pick up the pieces.

With a few simple shifts and a dedication to change, we can stop approaching them from a passive or reactive stance and take intentional action to improve our daily life. Just pause, look at the big picture, and reclaim control—then, watch as the puzzle pieces of your life click back into place with more energized ease and calm.

Tips on How to Handle Stress

Featured photo credit: engin akyurt via unsplash.com

Reference

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