As the old saying goes: patience is a virtue. But perhaps you’re not feeling particularly virtuous—especially with our long-awaited “freedom day” set to be postponed by another month. If thinking about what the future holds leaves you feeling impatient, anxious, or even at breaking point, take note of these tips from prominent wellness experts on how best to manage it.
Richie Bostock, breath-work coach
“The way you breathe affects just about every system in your body, such as your cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, nervous and immune systems. Because we have conscious control over our breath, by simply learning how to use it as a tool (the way nature intended you to), you can quickly affect the systems and functions in your body, improving your physical and mental health and performance, and emotional wellbeing.
“My favorite way to use my breath when feeling impatient or frustrated is to perform a “sigh of relief” because research has shown that sighing acts as a physical, mental, and emotional reset – it’s a break in the constant pattern of breath that resets your respiratory system. It’s defined as an inhale that is twice as large as normal, which therefore stretches the alveoli (the air sacs in your lungs), giving you a sense of comfort and relief, hence the name.”
- Slowly inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen and chest.
- Once you get to the top of the inhale, sigh out through your mouth, without pause. No effort or control is required. Ensure your inhalation is bigger than normal because then, as you relax all of your breathing muscles and open your mouth, the exhale will naturally escape out of you with gusto. Really make sure you let go of the breath and let it fall out – use it as an opportunity to let go of other things, like the tension in your muscles and the worries and thoughts that might be making you frustrated or angry.
- Repeat 10 times – or more, if you need.
“You can also get comfortable with breathing more slowly in general. While many people habitually breathe at a faster-than-natural rate, consciously slowing down your breathing (in and out through your nose for six seconds each) for a few minutes has been scientifically shown to shift your body into a parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) response, promoting things like digestion, good sleep and feeling calm.”
Richie Bostock’s brilliant app, Flourish, offers guided breathing exercises.
Jane Haynes, psychotherapist
“Patience may be an old-fashioned virtue, but it’s one that the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to acquire, for better or worse. It’s the opposite of instant gratification, which is something we have become increasingly accustomed to, and it’s linked to acceptance—it’s foolish to waste our energy on ranting against what cannot be changed. If we can train ourselves to accept these times of uncertainty, we have the possibility of starting to regard them as an adventure—even if it might not be one we would have chosen for ourselves—in which we have more time to reflect on where we are going with our life stories, rather than always being driven to act.
“Since patience is the opposite of boredom, this is a good time to learn a new skill, whether that’s learning to drive, or mastering the more infuriating rules of bridge. If such hobbies feel too ambitious, consider knitting a winter scarf, or picking up a paintbrush and allowing your imagination to roam.”
Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist and life coach
“When we feel out of control, it often leaves us feeling anxious. My advice is to think about what you can change in the moment, and to focus on that. If you’re feeling out of control in terms of your immunity, take some proactive action to boost your gut health (I love Purearth’s Water Kefir). If you’re impatient about restrictions on your life in the outside world, turn to your inner world by getting out your journal or trying a meditation app. Taking some action and focusing on what we can control means we feel empowered, even through times of uncertainty.
“Put simply, when we argue with reality or resist what is, we create suffering for ourselves. Acceptance creates peace. Many of us spend a lot of time trying to make things perfect or ‘just so,’ and we believe that things have to be a certain way in order for us to be happy. But the truth is, things feel perfect when we accept them as they are. Can you allow yourself to embrace reality as it is?”
This article was originally published on British Vogue.