We live in a hurry-up, fast-paced world of instant gratification. Sometimes the too-much-too-fast route can have a negative effect on us mentally and physically. But, there are tangible benefits to slowing down and becoming more patient, said therapist Tammy Redmond of Novant Health Psychiatry - Concord.
She discusses how you can develop patience and hopefully enjoy life more.
Q: What are some steps to become a more patient person in the new year?
Redmond: “The most important step is don’t set incredibly high expectations of yourself. At the beginning of the year everyone wants to start with ‘Here’s my new year’s resolutions.’ They typically set a couple goals that are pretty high that almost make them seem like they’re going to be Superman or Superwoman. Start with some very basic goals.”
Q: Can you give us an example?
Redmond: “I’m working with a patient who is dealing with irritability. Between work, family, life and technology, they find themselves very irritable. Find the roots of it. Start basic and ask yourself what is causing the irritation. It wouldn’t hurt to write or type out a list to get a visual of the irritants. Is it something you can control or are there things you can modify within the irritant?
“For example, our phones usually have pages and pages of apps. Maybe you can get rid of some of the apps or use airplane mode, basically eliminating what might compel you to respond, if it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing at the time.”
Q: How can we slow down our lives in general?
Redmond: “I feel that you absolutely have to because the value you have in accomplishing something lessens the more you speed up the way you engage and respond. It’s a challenge to slow down and take it step by step, to sit in the moment and think `Things aren’t going the speed I want them to go, but they are progressing toward something I want to achieve.’ Sitting in that `pause’ moment can be a really big challenge.
“Find some type of game on your phone. Or it could be something in your pocket. Take in your environment and surroundings. If it has to do with a personal goal, realize that you may be a wheel in a larger process. You’ve done your piece, and your cog is now connected to another cog that is moving those other wheels. Know you’ve done your part and you can now focus on something else while this is running in the background, or parallel to what you’re doing.”
Q: Can something as easy as deep breathing exercises help?
Redmond: “They really can. They don’t have to be anything extravagant. It can be as simple as a deep breath, expanding out your stomach and pushing out the breath. Do it several times. As you’re doing that, pace it slow because your body is taking in the air. It’s going to nourish your muscles, get in your bloodstream and nourish your mind. It’s going to help the tension and anxiety resolve itself.
Q: How important is it to identify what’s truly important in your life, and not spend mental energy on things that aren’t?
Redmond: “It helps to reel things back into the `now.’ We want to think forward in so many ways, but if we think too forward, I call that `rabbit hole’ thinking. If you think too forward, you’re going to mentally invest your energy, your time and possibly resources in something that’s probably not there or is going to be happening anytime soon.”
Q: Can you expect an occasional struggle when developing your patience?
Redmond: “It’s akin to dieting, or building up your muscles. It will become habitual, but you have to keep reinforcing it and nourishing it. Changes come into our lives that can disrupt your nice stability. You have to recognize what’s causing the friction of that challenge to regain that sense of patience and calm.”
Q: Can an impatient person become a patient person?
Remond: “Yes, they can. It ultimately comes down to ownership and commitment, to wanting to change habits and behaviors. Impatience can be really draining. It can zap your body and mind. In committing to not being an impatient person, you’re also committing to basically solidifying your physical health. It can reduce anxiety, tension, gastrointestinal issues and even short-term memory.”