Impatient to Get Rid of Anxiety? Impatience Causes Anxiety
Are you impatient to get rid of anxiety? On a scale from one to 10, with 10 representing "immediately," how soon do you want your anxiety gone? There was a time in my life that my own number was off the charts somewhere in the billions. After all, anxiety is a horrible thing to live with, all-consuming and confining. While it's natural to be eager to get rid of anxiety, unfortunately, impatience can be a big cause of anxiety. Let's shift away from getting rid of anxiety and examine impatience itself to see how it just might be making you more anxious. Then, as you cultivate patience, anxiety will shrink in the process.
Impatience and Anxiety at Great Clips
Life is busy and at times even chaotic. People are constantly in a hurry, but nearly everywhere we go and everything we do requires us to wait. Hurry up and wait. The "hurry up" part is disrupting our ability to peacefully engage in the "wait" part. It has become sometimes excruciatingly difficult to wait, to be patient, and as a society we're more anxious because of it.
I recently dropped into a place to get my hair cut (I didn't have time for a lengthy appointment at a salon; I had too much to do and was too impatient). As I sat in a row of chairs lined up against a wall, I stared at a sign across from the chairs that read, "Relax. You're at Great Clips." Many other people were lined up in those chairs, and no one was relaxed. No one was patient.
Phones were out, brows were creased, lips were pursed, sighs were exhaled, behinds were shifted, and watches were looked at. This was a picture not of relaxation but of impatience and worse: Together, we were a conga line of stress, anxiety, and likely, sub-optimal health. Despite the fact that I was in and out in 20 minutes, I noticed my stress and anxiety skyrocket because I had better things that I needed to do. I wanted to get them done so I could finally relax and reduce my anxiety and stress. This is not a helpful attitude.
What Happens in the Brain and Body When We're Impatient and Anxious
The more hurried and stressed we feel, the more our symptoms of anxiety skyrocket. That's because the brain and body are sensitive to what we're up to. For example:
- The brain thinks it needs to signal the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, so it does (thoughts are powerful).
- When we're rushed, our muscles become tense (pay attention to your physical body the next time you're in a hurry).
- The digestive system responds negatively, and this third nervous system of ours, in constant communication with the brain, perpetuates stress, can experience inflammation, and often suffers both acute and chronic problems.
- We become a closed-course raceway of impatience, which causes or exacerbates anxiety.
Our entire being (mind, body, and spirit) is negatively impacted when we feel hurried, stressed, and impatient. This causes anxiety, and, frustratingly, when we're anxious, we are more prone to be impatient and feel stressed. Once we're aware of this negative loop, we can do something about it and reduce anxiety in the process.
Cultivate Patience and Inner Peace
First, the bad news: Reducing impatience requires a hefty dose of patience. The good news is that, contrary to how it might seem, developing patience and thereby lowering anxiety is humanly possible. Given that you and I are human, we can do it. Here are some tips to begin:
- Increase your awareness of those times you feel harried, stressed, and impatient (when we become used to driving full-speed on the closed-course raceway of anxiety and impatience, it begins to feel normal and we don't even realize how negatively we're affected).
- Experiment with your daily life to see how you can create a balance between rushed and relaxed (and sitting and waiting in line looking at a sign telling you to relax isn't relaxing, so start to discover what does relax you and where you can work it into your day).
- Start, or patiently continue, practices like yoga and mindfulness to calm both body and mind, reducing symptoms of anxiety and developing patience.
- Rather than hurrying to complete tasks so you can relax, work in little ways to decompress while you're completing your to-do lists.
- Plant a seed in a nice pot and nurture it, keeping it as both a relaxing activity and a visual reminder that you can't rush the process of life.
As you gradually (yes, unfortunately, gradually) reduce impatience and the stress that accompanies it, you'll begin to notice that your anxiety is waning. When you start to become frustrated, remind yourself that good things--like freedom from anxiety--come to those who wait.
How much has impatience influenced your anxiety? What are you doing about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Peterson, T. (2020, February 27). Impatient to Get Rid of Anxiety? Impatience Causes Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2020/2/impatient-to-get-rid-of-anxiety-impatience-causes-anxiety
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Great read. I'm always thinking ahead and looking forward to the day where I don't have anxiety anymore, and I need to stop doing that and just start focusing on the moment and trying to distract myself from my panic or anxiety.
"Despite the fact that I was in and out in 20 minutes, I noticed my stress and anxiety skyrocket because I had better things that I needed to do. I wanted to get them done so I could finally relax and reduce my anxiety and stress. This is not a helpful attitude." This line really spoke to me because a lot of the times that I'm out doing something somewhat mediocre or unimportant I start thinking or stressing about the 100 other more important things I need to be doing and I need to, again, just learn to live in the moment and focus on what I'm doing right then and there.