Why Patience is Crucial to Your Health

12/02/2012

Patience photo

Your knuckles are white from vigorously clutching the steering wheel and your ears are ringing from honking the horn. If someone jumps in front of you in line, you’re likely to bite their head off and if you wait too long at a restaurant, the waitress is going to get it. If this is an accurate description of how you face life’s little inconveniences, there may be cause for concern.

A lack of patience may trigger psychological responses that present problems for your overall health. Those with type A personalities are often in a constant state of urgency and that urgency leads to anger. "People with this personality type are more likely to experience anger when they're held up," said Dr. Redford Williams, an internist at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina on LiveScience. He estimates that roughly 25 percent of Americans have a type A personality, which increases their risk for health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Our fast paced lifestyle leads many of us to be impatient -- we’re constantly in a hurry. LiveScience reported on an American Medical Association study where researchers found that the more impatient and hostile 18- to 30-year-olds are, the more likely they are to develop high blood pressure later in life.

This constant state of anger leads to stress on the body. People tend to either have a "velcro" mentality, where stressors stick with them the whole day, or the "teflon" mentality, where stressors slide right off.

We are programmed to react to stressful situations by releasing cortisol, a crucial hormone that's secreted by the adrenal glands. It’s a hormone that regulates blood pressure, insulin, glucose metabolism, and inflammatory response. If this reaction happens too often over a prolonged period of time, it creates a slew of side effects like high blood pressure and lowered immunity. Stress can also lead to heart attacks, abdominal fat, strokes, and so much more.

"When you're about to be attacked by a saber-toothed tiger, this response can help you survive, but not when you're sitting in traffic or waiting in a long line," Williams said. 

If this is you, try exploring avenues for stress reduction. Here's a good start:

Coping with Stress

1. Ask yourself: "Why are you in such a hurry?

2. Take five long breaths in and out.

3. Close your eyes and take two minutes to picture yourself in your personal paradise.

4. Cut back on the caffeine, which can lead to impatience.

5. Download a meditation app on your phone.

6. Get enough sleep so that your fuse isn’t so short.

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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