Patience in a time of uncertainty | Advice for young people | Jigsaw Online

Patience in a time of uncertainty

When life throws us curve balls, we may find ourselves becoming impatient, wanting life to return to the way it was. We might want things to progress more quickly, or at least know what’s going to happen next.

Unusual circumstances like COVID-19 can cause feelings of impatience and stress to increase. You may find yourself overthinking things, feeling easily irritated with others or less like yourself. Everyday problems can seem harder to solve.

We can’t change what’s going on right now, and a lot remains unknown. We can, however, practice patience.

Developing patience

Patience is a skill that does in fact need a bit of practice. But, it can give you the freedom to have a pleasant time even when it feels like the world is toying with you. Patience can transform restlessness and frustration into a sense of spaciousness and curiosity.

It takes some time to learn and feel the benefits of slowing down by choice. And of course, we need to be gentle with ourselves in the process.

Dealing with uncertainty

Here are some useful tips to help us during heightened times of uncertainty:

  • Write down what is making you feel impatient. This can help you slow down and focus on one task at a time. It gives you a list of areas ready for practice!
  • Check in with how you’re feeling physically. Are you tense, breathing shallowly, clenching parts of your body? Where exactly? Focus on those sensations as closely as you can. Breathe into the tension. You might just feel your body starting to relax.
  • Use your breath. Have you caught yourself ranting in your head about our current situation? Pause for a moment, and take slow deep breaths. Are you rushing around or trying to hurry things up? Feeling impatient while standing in a long queue at the shop? Focus on your breath, smile and connect to the moment.
  • Be proactive. Maybe you have things that you need to do, like studying, or housework. Balance these with things you enjoy doing. Being active, making loved ones laugh, playfully being in nature, spending time with animals, gardening, cooking, reading, drawing, journaling, singing, or dancing. Whatever makes your soul sing, do more of that.
  • Do not feel ashamed of your worries. Talk to someone you trust like a friend or family member. You could also look at different ways to connect with a professional. Take heart. We will get through this together.
  • Keep in mind that this will pass. One of the few certainties in life is that things will change. We will not be in this forever.

I am journaling a lot, and trying my best to take it easy on myself. Times aren’t normal right now and that’s OK

Nicola, 19, Jigsaw volunteer, Dublin

Uncertainty is inevitable throughout life. Despite our best efforts, there will always be things outside our control. Instead, how about using this time of uncertainty to practice patience and acceptance. Control what you can and relinquish the rest. Remember when we feel unsure about what our future holds, it does not mean we’re heading somewhere undesirable.

We can choose to focus on everything that could go wrong, or we can focus on what could go right. Make sure to acknowledge what is working well. Being curious about unexpected new directions has the power to transform our negative thinking. This in turn will reduce our levels of stress and anxiety. Making friends with this new unknown and welcoming it in can help us respect and enjoy this time to create our own unique way forward, together.