Dear Therapist: Running Out of Patience

Running out of patience and time
Running out of Patience?

Dear Therapist,

I am at the start of Month #2 of Shelter in Place in my town. My heart fell to the floor when the order was recently extended another whole month. At first, it was novel to work at home, bond with my family, and have more time to myself without the running around, but now I am running out of patience! How do I keep it together at this drags on — and on?

Sincerely, Running out of Patience

Ah! What a feeling! What a situation!

I think many people are in states where the people have been sheltering in place for weeks by now and are about to enter into not week, but month two of the situation. I hear that you, at first, appreciated the change in your life that this order originally had on your life, but it’s now worn off and you want to get back to your life as usual.

I am sure you are not alone with what you are feeling. There is definitely a desire to want to get back to work, to errands, to sports, to events, to coffee with friends, to networking chats, and everything else that took us out into the public to connect, produce, enjoy, and live each day. Being grounded as a kid was never fun, and now the entire world is in this state.

One thing, we know our neighbors and everyone else is in the same boat. One way to grow patience is to recognize you are not alone. Everyone in your community is in the same place and most people are probably wishing this could all be over yesterday. Knowing you are in good company can help ease the feelings.

Next, recognize that staying in is for your safety and the safety of others. It is literally the staying put that is saving lives. How can it be? Something so simple — stay home and save lives. Yet, it is so foreign and strange to stay in the majority of the time for weeks on end. Still, holding in mind the purpose that this is for something much greater than yourself may help you tolerate these days.

I would also suggest creating a list of all that you want to do once this time is over. I know it helps me to write these items down – both mundane and fanciful items – to keep my hopes up that this time will end and I will be prepared to move on to things that have been put on indefinite hold during this time. It is important to have a list in mind as to what you are looking forward to when this is over.

Finally, try to be present to this moment. It is an unusual, strange time, but one that will not last forever. Take it in as fully as possible. Use the time to learn about yourself, the ones you live with, and what about this time is realy good and what poses challenges. There is much to be learned by slowing down and observing one’s self in this unusual space.

How do we grow patience? There is no magic answer, but, in time, it will all pass. Find ways to structure the days, find meaning within, and be present to what is unfolding in the now to not get too ahead of yourself, but to find the good in here and now. Today.