Practise patience for a happier, healthier you

Learning patience will make you a lot happier.
Learning patience will make you a lot happier.

You've no doubt heard the expression "patience is a virtue". Now researchers are learning that this virtue can be good for your health and well-being.

Any given day can be filled with a series of frustrations that cause you to lose your patience, like waiting for your assistant to finish a report you need or for your kids to clean up their rooms. Or you might be impatient due to a serious life event, like needing to find a new job or managing a slow recovery after an illness.

A skill you can learn

Experts say that by handling these situations with patience, you'll replace frustration with tranquillity and be happier for it.

Baylor University psychologist Sarah Schnitker, who has been studying patience for more than a decade, found that people who are more patient also tend to be more hopeful and satisfied with their lives. And they're less likely to be stressed or depressed or experience health issues, like headaches and ulcers.

Studies on patience training show that patience is a skill you can learn, often by making changes to how you react to frustrating situations. Many people get impatient because they see waiting as time lost, so your first strategy is to redeploy that time.

If you're stuck on a line or standing idle because your kid's soccer practice is running late, use your smartphone to read and answer emails or do some online shopping. At work, if you're at an impasse with a project, put it aside and jump to another one to make inroads there.

Next, tackle the emotional aspect of impatience so that your energy isn't zapped by negative thoughts. Diffuse any anger with deep breathing. But instead of just counting to the number 10, count off all the things that are really important to you to reframe your outlook.

Image credit: iStock

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