We are all waiting for something. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for the phone call, waiting in traffic, waiting for the plane, waiting for the baby, waiting for spring. Waiting is an inevitable part of life and can certainly be frustrating and stressful. As Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sang, waiting is the hardest part. However, it doesn’t have to be a time of misery.
You can worry and obsess while waiting, get frustrated and bored, or even become angry. These things raise your stress level and leave you feeling powerless and defensive. Alternatively you can get busy and take some kind of positive action.
I have been waiting a lot recently, waiting for the results of tests, waiting for a date for eye surgery, and waiting for information. I have decided to stop losing sleep over things I cannot control. I may have to wait, but at least I can do something that is in my control.
Here are 7 things you can do while you are waiting to prevent obsessing and stress.
1) Clean out your e-mail box. This is a good tactic when you are waiting on the phone or waiting for someone to return a call. Instead of feeling frustrated, you will feel a sense of satisfaction.
2) Clean something. Cleaning is probably not at the top of your list of favorite tasks. You are already miserable waiting, so you might as well use your time to get something unpleasant done. Clean off a shelf or drawer if you are waiting for a short time; clean your house or your office if you are waiting for a longer time. They say mothers-to-be have a nesting instinct and often clean their house before giving birth. It lets them get ready for the baby while waiting.
3) Make a list. Dumping ideas from your brain onto paper or an electronic note pad eases the sense of overwhelm that often accompanies waiting. Lists are easy to make and help you feel productive.
4) Stop watching the clock. The old saying is that a watched pot never boils- and a watched clock never moves. Watching the time does not make it move faster, it only increases your agitation. Write a note, finish an email, or take a few steps towards a project you are working on. If you are busy, and involved you won’t stare at the clock.
5) Call or get together with a friend. Conversation will help the time go by in a positive fashion. You might find yourself laughing and enjoying yourself, which occupies your mind and stops you from obsessing over whatever it is you are waiting for.
6) Use wait time to listen to music, news, podcasts or books on tape. These things help pass the time pleasurably. There have been times when I was so caught up in what I was listening to that I was almost irritated that the wait was over. This works especially well on a long and boring drive or while waiting at an airport.
7) Stop thinking about the worst possible outcome. Without all of the facts or information, you are only guessing. Imagining all the things that can go wrong will increase your stress. You can not affect the outcome by worrying over it. Many times our worry is misplaced and we worry over nothing. Instead of imaging the negative outcomes, make a list of all the possible positive outcomes.
No one loves waiting. We can choose to be miserable or choose to deal with waiting in a positive fashion. Being miserable only makes waiting worse. Instead, you can deal with waiting by doing something that makes you feel accomplished, which leads to pleasure, and who doesn’t want more of that?
What do you do while waiting? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.