Hurry Up and Wait; Defeat Anxiety While Waiting

By Robert Clark, October 31, 2017

Americans like to think ahead.  We look toward coveted milestones as we forge our way through life.  We work to graduate high school so we can move to college.  After college, we have to find the right job.  Then we are on to marriage and family, carefully making sure we are not behind our peers.  As we age the waiting doesn’t stop, we wait for promotions and then retirement. Many of us are just waiting for the next mile marker, cultivating lives of increased anxiety as we hurry up to wait.  I have heard people tell me of the anxiety and even angst they feel because they feel like they are always waiting.  Why is waiting so hard?  I think it’s because we are tempted to believe the next milestone will give us some mysterious peace or satisfaction that we don’t have today.  Yet, after we receive what we have been waiting on, the satisfaction and peace fades fast and then we are back to waiting.  I’ve spent a lot of time waiting and I have found some ways to make waiting more worthwhile and actually enjoyable.


Remember it is Temporary

It’s November and it seems like summer just began.  Time is moving quickly and when we are waiting it is helpful to remind ourselves how quickly it passes.  This moment is temporary and before you know it, what we are waiting on will have come and gone.  When we remind ourselves of the temporary nature of the day, we can look at the circumstance more objectively.  As we see things more objectively, we can take time to see the good things that are simultaneously happening while we wait.  When we see the good things around us we can enjoy today to the best of our ability which can decrease anxiety.  Remember, it is temporary, this too shall pass.


Finding Purpose in Waiting

It may be helpful to reframe waiting and look for purpose in the interim.  Each day offers us many opportunities to help and encourage others.  When working to find a new job, it could be a good idea to call a friend who needs encouraging.  Taking time to reach out to others can be uplifting for both who you call and yourself.  There are many ways to help or encourage others.  This can be as simple as a smile or it could mean going out of your way to help someone.  Helping others is nourishing to the human soul, and it makes us feel good.

Even in hard times there are things to be grateful for.  Taking time to express what you are grateful for can put hardships into perspective.  As hardships are seen through the lens of gratitude, the blow of the hardship is lessened.  Taking time to express gratitude will help improve our mood and make waiting more bearable.  It may be difficult at first, but the results of gratitude are powerful.

Cultivating our spiritual life may also be rewarding in a time of waiting.   It is said trials produce perseverance, character and hope.  Some seasons of waiting are a trail, like waiting for an illness to pass or waiting for a loved one to get help for an addiction.  Taking time to engage in spiritual practices can assist in finding meaning within the circumstance.  Although the trial may remain intense, we can grow and mature in the midst of the trail.  Cultivating meaning within waiting can increase peace and joy within waiting.


Enjoy the Slow Down

Slow times can cause anxiety. Waiting on a job or experiencing business slowdowns can be especially fear inducing, so it may be tempting to freak out.  Remember, slow times are rare.  When we are given the opportunity to have a slow season, we may want to enjoy it the best we can.  Taking time to enjoy the slow times may refresh you more than you think. Take a slow walk, read a book or learn a new skill.  Taking time to have fun will relax you so you can think in creative ways, which can help when looking for a new job or cultivating new business.  Fun is essential and yet though it may be challenging to have fun in the wait, you will reap rewards of productivity in the long run!


Embrace the Cliché

As a counselor, I use clichés frequently.  “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” is a fun cliché to embrace relating to waiting.  Living during the journey is important because it seems we are always waiting on something.  As you journey remember the current circumstance is temporary.  As we go, we can glean purpose in helping others, expressing gratitude and cultivating our spiritual practices.  We can have fun within the wait, as slow times are rare and fun is essential.  Waiting can be difficult.  These steps can help focus our eyes on more than what we are waiting for.