Thriving in the New Normal//

How to Stay Patient When Things Feel So Uncertain

These tips will help you embrace the fact that life — and presidential elections — can be a marathon, not a sprint.

DjelicS/ Getty Images
DjelicS/ Getty Images

Anyone who stayed up late on Tuesday evening to learn the results of the U.S. presidential election got a lesson in waiting. More than any other virtue, perhaps patience is what’s required of all of us this week. Patience, the capacity to tolerate or cope with delay without distress or losing our cool, is associated with many well-being benefits, including reducing depression and boosting our capacity for empathy. No matter how the election turns out, those are qualities worth tapping into.

We asked our Thrive community to share their best tips for cultivating and practicing patience, and how those strategies help them stay calm in uncertain times. Which of these will you try?

Keep a daily gratitude journal

“Even if I only have five minutes, I write down the top ten things that I am grateful for. This practice changes my mindset, helps me stay patient, and reminds me that my life is good and there is so much goodness in the world. It’s a way to step away from life’s challenges and uncertainties, take a deep breath, and focus on everything good in my life.”

 —Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, ON

Repeat a mantra that helps you stay grounded

“There are two mantras that continue to help my sons and I navigate stressful and volatile situations. The first one is, ‘Don’t pick up the brick. ‘ When someone (or something) throws a virtual brick at you, don’t pick it back up. Let it be. The second one is, ‘Respond, don’t react.’ Learning to never react, but to intelligently respond instead, has been our biggest ally.”

—Andy Blasquez, high school teacher, Yucaipa, CA

Use your breath 

“I’m cultivating and practicing patience amidst these uncertain times by engaging in alternate nostril breathing every few hours. Alternate nostril breathing (there are lots of ways to do it — you can find instructions online) provides a host of benefits, including relaxing the body and mind, reducing stress and anxiety, and calming the nervous system. I close my eyes during my breathing practice to enhance its calming effects.”

—Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski), business operations specialist, Denver, CO

Focus on what you can control

“I like to remind myself that there are some things I can’t control, but all I can do is continue to work on the things that are in my control — the things that impact my life and well-being. To stay patient, I dive into a project for my business, or take the time to journal about how I’m feeling. What I won’t do is worry about what might happen, because it’s simply a waste of time. I try to keep busy making my life the best it can be.”

—Laurie Jonas, blogger, Red Wing, MN

Learn something new

“To stay patient right now, I am focusing on learning and creating new things — new recipes to feed to the people I love, new skills to up level my career, new songs on the bass guitar, and looking into new books to expand my mind. It helps me to know that even in this difficult time, I am continuing to grow and thrive.”

—Julie Moe, web designer and women’s coach, Nashville, TN

Meditate to get comfortable with change

“Journaling and meditation have been helping keep me patient in the face of massive uncertainty. I’ve found that reminding myself that all things are always in the state of change has been helpful. This is a core truth to the universe.” 

—Craig Inzana, marketing agency owner, Omaha, NE

Commit to a morning ritual 

“When I wake up feeling overwhelmed, I make a point to stretch for 10 minutes, and then take five or ten minutes for balanced breathing. Then, I immerse into at least five minutes of silence. That little ritual charges my batteries for the rest of the day and helps me stay patient.”

—Loreta Pivoriunaite, performance strategist, Lithuania 

Do a stress check-in

“It’s important to care for yourself during this time. I find it helpful to identify the things you like to do that are stress relievers. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and moving your body are basics that help your body and brain operate on all cylinders. If you do these things, you’ll be more likely to stay patient and handle stress better.”

—Melissa Lawrence, career and life coach, Frederick, MD

Look for ways to comfort yourself 

“When things feel uncertain, I stay calm by asking myself, ‘What do I currently need in my life that I am not currently getting?’ I remind myself that this anxious feeling could be because a core need is not being met. If I don’t have security or certainty, I look within and ask how I can feel more secure right now. I could wrap myself up in my favorite blanket, cuddle with a furry friend or loved one, or make a warm cup of my favorite tea — as creating experiences to bring comfort can help. The goal is to ask how I can give what I need most to myself in the moment.”

—Shannon Kaiser, international life coach and author, Portland, OR

Tidy up around the house

“I tend to do a few things when incredibly stressed: cook, clean, and meditate. Let’s just say that with all of this election uncertainty the house is so clean that you could probably conduct surgery here. The fridge and freezer are completely full with homemade meals and fresh baked treats, and I’m meditating a few times a day instead of my normal once a day.”

—Cindy J., executive search and human resources consultant to nonprofit organizations, Boston, MA

What’s your go-to tip for staying calm in uncertain times? Share what’s working for you in the comments.

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