5 Tips to Change Your Mindset to Drastically Reduce Daily Irritation from ‘Waiting’

Blog Mind 5 Tips to Change Your Mindset to Drastically Reduce Daily Irritation from ‘Waiting’

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11.20.2021 0 comments

It’s amazing how much time every day we can spend just waiting.

Waiting for our spouse/kids to be ready for school or work.

Waiting in line at the bank.

Waiting for the elevator.

Waiting at the supermarket.

Waiting at the DMV.


It’s pretty easy to become irritable when you spend what feels like hours of your very precious time waiting on others. You can quickly start losing your patience, growing irritable, and ultimately losing your temper [1].

The thing that often makes waiting so frustrating is the dissonance between perception, expectation, and reality. [2]

Let me explain…

You may look at a line in a supermarket and think, “There are just 2 people ahead of me, so it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to reach the cashier.” Unfortunately, one of those two people have 100+ items in their shopping cart, so when you pass the “couple of minutes” mark, the expectation you’ve set based on your perception of the situation gets shattered. Your new reality—of waiting in line—causes you frustration.

This is the same with any kind of wait: at the bank, at the airport, in traffic, anywhere you go. Even if you see a very long line, you typically set some kind of expectation of how long it could take, and when it goes beyond that expectation, you experience irritation.

Sadly, there’s nothing you can do about the waiting. You could try to visit the bank or DMV at quieter hours, get to the airport a few hours early before the rush, or leave for work before traffic hits, but no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you’re always going to end up waiting.

The key, therefore, is to change your mindset to help reduce your irritation over the waiting.

How can you do that?

Expect and prepare to wait. Expect for there to be a long line wherever you’re going, and prepare accordingly. Bring a book, an ebook reader, or even a movie/TV show on your tablet or smartphone. If you’re prepared mentally and physically for a long wait, you’ll be exponentially less irritated by it.

Having something to entertain you during the wait can make the time pass much more pleasantly—and quickly. The wait only feels long when you’re bored or angry. If you’re enjoying your time in line because you’ve got something to entertain you, you might actually welcome the extra few minutes.

Chat with someone. Strike up a conversation with someone else in line, or pull out your phone and send a message to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Conversation can help pass the time and give you something enjoyable to do while you wait. It will also take your mind off your current irritation and give you a social connection that will boost your mood.

Relax your mind and body. You may be waiting, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stressing. When you feel yourself growing irritated, make it a point to relax your body and mind. Use deep breathing exercises, meditative techniques, and mindfulness practices to help relieve your stress. You’ve got all that time anyways—might as well put it to good use on your daily relaxation practices.

Chew gum or have a snack. It turns out that chewing gum can help to boost your mood [3] and make you feel more relaxed while you wait (make sure it's aspartame free gum). Always carry gum on you so you’ve got something to do while you are sitting or standing around waiting. If you’ve got enough, share it with someone else who’s waiting in line, using it as an icebreaker to open up a friendly conversation.

Overhaul your mindset toward the wait. You can’t always prepare for a wait, and when it surprises you, that’s when it’s most likely to cause irritation or annoyance. However, it’s in these moments that it’s most important to reframe your thinking to shift it away from the negative.

Yes, the wait sucks. Yes, it’s costing you valuable time. But there’s nothing you can do about it, so being angry or irritated isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is shift your mindset away from the negative. Stop thinking about how much time it’s costing you or how annoyed it makes you. Start thinking about positives—the fact that you have more time to contemplate other matters, that you’ve got a short break in your busy day, or that you can do something enjoyable (with proper preparation next time).

Thinking positively about a negative situation can make even the worst irritation nothing more than a minor annoyance. And it will go a long way toward helping you stay relaxed, calm, and avoiding irritation!


[1] https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/the-frustration-of-waiting/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31248977/

[3] http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/654806


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