With the pandemic still spiking in over 20 States, social justice protests continuing, unemployment at its highest ever, re-opening processes being delayed or suspended; our patience is being sorely tested more than ever. Patience and learning to manage frustration tolerance are not skills we typically practice in today’s Uber-technological world.

I have had my own challenges with patience during this time. I’ve been living with five other people, one of whom is high risk. We each have authentic opinions about how to respond to this crisis that may differ from mine. Sometimes, it’s difficult to listen to everyone’s feelings. However, I continually remind myself to be patient and understand that everyone’s feelings and opinions matter.

Our world lacks patience. Fifth World (known as “The Curious Bank”), commissioned a national survey that revealed just how “insanely patient” people are. Roughly 80 percent of respondents rating themselves as “being patient.” But, 96 percent of Americans will knowingly consume extremely hot food or drink that burns their mouth; more than half hang up the phone after being on hold one minute or less; 71 percent frequently exceed the posted speed limit to get to their destination. Americans binge-watch an average of 7 TV episodes in a single sitting. Another study noted respondents became frustrated after just 16 seconds of waiting for a web page to load, and after 25 seconds of waiting for a traffic light to change.

We face this ominous and precarious crisis with no immediate solutions in sight. There is a critical need to practice patience now, and try to curb the heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fear that exist.

Here are 7 ways to practice honing frustration tolerance and improving your patience.

  1. Make yourself wait:

Practice not responding impulsively. We are used to getting immediate feedback in our techno-savvy conditioning. Don’t look for signs of change obsessively, force yourself to “wait.” Try to work through your anxiety and accept change won’t happen immediately. Allow yourself some space before checking in again on the state of the world. Commit to giving yourself social media breaks. It will help you become more patient, lessen redundancy, and force yourself to sit with the unknown.

2. Determine your triggers and self-correct:

Determine what your triggers are; be it news articles, podcasts, or conversations with friends or business associates. Exercising your self-awareness allows you to self-correct and adjust. Then limit exposure to the triggers you identified.  This will decrease your exposure to events that may cause either increased anxiety or impatience.

3. Relaxation and Meditation:

A relaxed mind and body can reduce anxiety, improve patience, and frustration tolerance. Try deep breathing. Find time during your day to quiet your thoughts. Within that space you can give yourself permission to confront the world with tolerance. Try guided imagery or a meditation app to help you relax.

4. Practice self-talk:

Using self-talk will help you cope with the unknown. Reinforce yourself by remembering you have been resilient and persevered to overcome challenging and difficult situations in the past. Remind yourself to use those same strategies to deal with whatever adversity you face now.

5. Take a time out:

When we feel tension in our bodies rising to a level of peak proportion, it is important to take a break. Being in touch and scanning our bodies is a preventative measure to avoid becoming overwhelmed by anxiety or despair. Remove yourself from your surroundings and give yourself a chance to re-center using relaxation, meditation, and self-talk. This will enable you to re-enter the situation refreshed. A calm mind can tolerate frustration more effectively than one fueled by tension and anxiety.

6. Practice gratitude:

Remind yourself to be grateful and concerned, but don’t lose sight of what you’re grateful for. Maybe you are grateful for the health of your family members, family time, or positive strides in the social justice movement. Practicing gratitude helps you to maintain balance and navigate through your frustration and impatience.

7. Be aware when you lose patience:

Keep track of how often you lose patience with loved ones. As you increase your tolerance for dealing with the unknowns in the outside world, you can reduce your level of frustration. Self-reinforcement will help improve your patience. Do something nice for yourself. Try to choose options that fit within the limitations of how life has slowed down. For example, it would be better to reinforce by having a leisurely picnic or a run under a sprinkler, then playing video games.

We are living in a historic year filled with unfathomable challenges. We will survive to talk about these events for years to come.

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things,” Ralph Waldo Emerson.


  • Jennifer Guttman

    Clinical Psychologist: Children, Adolescents, Adults, Couples

    Dr. Jennifer Guttman is a leading Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health. She has built thriving practices in Manhattan, NY and Westport, CT that provide weekly services for over 120 clients. Last year, Dr. Guttman launched her new lifestyle motivational brand platform, Sustainable Life Satisfaction, via her popular YouTube six-episode web series, “A Path to Sustainable Life Satisfaction.” She recently debuted as an author with her newly published workbook of the same title, which is available in e-book and paperback on Kindle/Amazon.com. Through her interaction with thousands of clients, Dr. Guttman found that over 80% of people don’t feel “happy” about some aspect of their lives. Her mission is to motivate and inspire people think about happiness in a realistic way. She created her SLS brand and six core techniques as a blueprint to help people feel more empowered, self-reliant, masters of their lives and put them on a path to achieving sustainable life satisfaction.