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How to be more patient with daily discomfort

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Everyone has those times when the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration, adversity, or suffering, also known as patience, falls short.

“We have expectations of what it should be like and what is the right time to wait in line, or how quickly I should be able to get somewhere, or how another person should act or how I should feel,” he said. say Sarah Schnitker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University and author of the 2012 study “An examination of patience and well-being. “

“When those expectations are violated, it’s often when our emotions are deregulated,” Schnitker said.

Impatience isn’t always bad, but people with chronic impatience can experience more stress, which increases the risk of health problems, such as cardiovascular problems, Schnitker said.

Some people are more patient than others, but we’re not “doomed to any kind of natural awareness of patience we have,” Schnitker told CNN. “With intentional practices, we can cultivate our patience and make our expectations easier.”

Here are some of Schnitker’s recommendations for developing more patience.

This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

CNN: When you’re impatient, what happens to your brain and the rest of your body?

Sarah Schnitker: Your emotions are activated. When that happens, it’s kind of a whole-body response. Our heart rate may increase. The amount of electricity that comes out of our skin (called skin conductance) can change. It also depends on what emotion can occur. The anxiety of missing the next meeting if something doesn’t happen on time may be a little different from the impatience that is most motivated by anger. But with all of these things, your physiological system gets excited and begins to respond to stress – a kind of fight-or-flight excitement.

Sometimes impatience helps us focus our attention and prepares us for action. But when it comes to a situation that can’t be controlled or that can’t be done much, changing your own emotions is the option you have: basically regulate them downward and return to a state of calm.

CNN: How can you be more patient?

Schnitker: Cognitive reassessment (where you think about the situation from a new perspective) or the results of the benefits (wondering what positive aspects can result from this negative situation) can help you wait in the moment and can also help you generate long-term patience. Also, become aware of your emotions and really identify what you are feeling and why it can help you.

Another step I like to talk about is connecting your suffering, waiting, or problems with your goals or larger life goals. Does it make sense in what is happening? How can you take advantage of this meaning as a resource to help you deal with this negativity at the moment? We have conducted studies on the virtue of patience in psychiatric patients hospitalized for risk of suicide or other psychiatric disorders. We found even in this population that those who had more patience were able to deal with crises more effectively. They also observe a decrease in the symptoms of depression. It is something that even in cases of acute suffering, patience can help a person’s recovery.

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Practicing patience can be difficult at the moment. Imagine you are dealing with your child who has a tantrum, who is waiting to hear the results of a breast biopsy, or who is stuck in traffic before a really important meeting; you can try using these tips right now. But to create habits, what research suggests is effective is to practice these strategies during times that are not as stressful or are less stressful throughout the day. Try to be patient when the elevator arrives too slowly. That way, you already have some skills built up when you get to a more important situation.

Talking about your efforts with others can be very helpful. It is better to train than to try. Practicing meditation regularly or just being more attentive also correlates with higher patience.

You can also build patience by increasing your emotional fluency, which is the ability to recognize and name your emotions. Emotional fluency makes it easier to re-evaluate situations when you are in the moment or after. If you change the way you think, that changes the way you feel, but first you have to know how you feel.

CNN: How can you improve patience in relationships?

Schnitker: The basic steps will be the same; the advice would taste slightly different. What is useful is to know what your goals and purposes are for the relationship. For example, “As a parent, I want to help this young person become a prosperous adult. I want them to be kind and generous.”

Thinking about what you are trying to teach them in the long run can help you right now: saying, “Okay, this is part of teaching discipline and self-control, and helping them become an adult. that is kind and contributes to society. There is a meaning to why I support the cries and use positive parenting practices. “

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In the context of a romantic or marital relationship, consider what you are building instead of focusing on the negative cases. Fill in the positive side that motivates you to stay patient during struggles.

CNN: Are there other benefits to being more patient?

Schnitker: People with more patience tend to have more empathy. Being able to consider the perspectives of others and think about the needs of others, not just yourself, will often help you, especially in these one-time waiting situations when you stand in line. There are other people involved who can go through difficult days.

Research shows that more patient people have higher well-being: more life satisfaction, hope, self-esteem, positive emotions in general. He seems to be able to pursue his goals with more effort and have more satisfaction with his progress. Patients with more patience tend to have fewer health symptoms, such as headaches, ulcers, diarrhea, and more.

CNN: How long can it take to develop better patience?

Schnitker: It takes a lot of patience to develop patience. With habits, there is a lot of variability: it can take from 20 days to almost a year to develop a habit. With patience, we have seen people improve with a minimum (time with mental health experts), such as a four-hour weekly intervention for four weeks. It will never take. But let’s talk about gradients: it’s not like there are only patients or impatients. It is this continuum. But as people try to be more patient, they often see initial gains.

You also have to be patient with yourself. Be compassionate and kind to your own development and know that this cannot change overnight. It can be grown, but it is not a quick fix.

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