There is a Swahili proverb that says “Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far.” For some women in perimenopause and menopause, patience itself may seem like it’s far away at times. Wouldn’t it be great if we could attract more happiness by having more patience?
What is patience?
Patience is typically defined as “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay” and “quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.” Do you find yourself feeling edgy and frustrated by things, people, and events that didn’t bother you so much months or years ago? Are you losing your patience over slight traffic jams that never used to affect you so much or while waiting for your kids to get ready for school? Do you get frustrated when your takeout order takes longer than you expected or while standing in line at the supermarket, but these things didn’t bother you before now?
Lack of patience, or impatience, is often accompanied by stress, frustration, anger, rage, and irritability. Your family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances annoy you. Does this sound familiar? Then read on.
How is patience associated with menopause?
Once again, we can blame the drop in levels of estrogen and progesterone on losing patience. At one time before the arrival of perimenopause and menopause, you may have been unaffected by a crying baby on an airplane or when your partner is late again when you are supposed to be meeting friends.
Now, however, the decline in hormones affects your emotions. People’s actions and events that once didn’t faze you now make you feel like you’ve lost control. You want to scream for the baby to be quiet. You’re impatient with your partner and yell for them to hurry up. You feel tense, frustrated, and out of control.
A lack of patience also can be associated with other menopausal symptoms you are experiencing. Hot flashes, headache, indigestion, fatigue, sleep problems, and dozens of other symptoms can make you impatient with yourself and others.
How to manage lack of patience naturally
Losing patience isn’t always something you realize until it happens. However, there are steps you can take to either help ward off impatience or manage them once you find yourself in such a situation.
- Practice deep breathing. Slow deep breathing using one or more of several different techniques can help recenter your thoughts and emotions. Boxed breathing is one technique: breathe in through your nose to a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale through your mouth for 4, and then rest for 4. Repeat at least 5 to 6 times. Another approach, promoted by Dr. Andrew Weil, is to inhale to a count of 4, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. We suggest you practice deep breathing daily as a way to reduce stress and to make you more comfortable when doing it in cases where you’ve become impatient.
- Step away. If you are in a situation where you feel yourself losing patience and it is possible to step away, do it. This is especially helpful if you feel like you are going to say or do something you will regret. Excuse yourself politely, go do some deep breathing, take a walk, stretch, or meditate until you can resume the event.
- Balance your blood sugar. If your blood sugar levels ride a rollercoaster, then so will your mood and emotions. You are less likely to trigger impatience and other negative responses if you avoid processed and sugary foods, consume protein at every meal, and focus on complex carbs and healthy fats. Or try a supplement like Berberine.
- Move it. Engaging in physical activities can help you better deal with impatience. A refreshing walk through the park, yoga, tai chi, dancing (yes, close the door and dance like no one is looking), or bouncing on a trampoline alone can help you refocus and recenter your thoughts.
- Try journaling. This activity can help prevent episodes of impatience as well as recover from them and decipher them. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and interpretation of your loss of patience can help you not only recover and heal but give you insight on how to handle future situations better.
When to call your doctor
Losing patience typically is not something you need to see your doctor about, but you can mention it as part of how you are feeling emotionally. If your lack of patience is causing you a great deal of distress and is accompanied by other symptoms such as panic attacks, crying jags, or other emotional turmoil, you may want to seek guidance from a professional.
Losing your patience is something that happens to many women in perimenopause and menopause as hormones shift and moods swing. Recognizing that it happens is the first step to reining it in and managing it better.