Coping With the Stress of Waiting

Coping with Waiting
Coping with Waiting… Is it hard? How can we make it a better experience?
Image Source: Pixabay

Waiting is part of our life. In everyday life, we wait to get a coffee, wait for a bus, wait in traffic, wait to come back home after work. Even those little waiting periods cause stress in people’s lives. How about the bigger ones? Waiting for a university or job application result, getting married, moving to another city and so on. There are of course the harder ones such as medical or judicial issues, but I cannot write about them. I strongly recommend professional guidance for those cases.

Today, I am waiting. I did everything I could and I am currently waiting for results. Meanwhile, I decided to research and write about it. I want to write what makes people get stressed while waiting and how to cope with it. There are many different factors and suggestions of course. I will try to provide the ones that make sense for me. I am glad to convert this experience into something productive. So I am writing 🙂

Before starting, I would like to provide a disclaimer. I am neither a psychologist nor a life coach. I am just someone experiencing a long and exciting waiting process. So I will use other resources to explain, and I will, of course, provide those blogs/articles below for those resources.

Why Do We Get Stressed While Waiting?

While waiting, mostly we have nothing to do on that particular event. The control is out of our hands. This makes waiting harder. You cannot control when the bus comes, you cannot control a delay in your flight, you cannot control a bank officer doing his work faster. You cannot control, you just wait for things to happen.

Since nothing is in our control, we sometimes get stressed while waiting, but mostly ignore the root cause for it. If we do not understand the underlying cause, we never get a proper solution to cope with the stress. Each waiting case has its dynamics. Let’s list some reasons provided by Clark Psychology Group and PsychCentral:

  • You care a lot. Anxiety does not occur for unimportant events. It occurs when it is about your future, loved ones and so on.
  • You believe that you cannot handle the negative outcome.
  • You believe that you could have done better, but you did not.
  • You do not know how long you will wait.
  • You want to get started.
  • You wait alone.

The list can get longer and longer. From the things that I have read, the causes lie under three main parameters.

  • The impact of the event in your life
  • The length of waiting
  • The personality

What is your reason for waiting? Think about it!

Managing the Impact

A five-minute delay of a bus might not have a huge impact on our life, but a job or college application result has a higher impact. We might have done everything we could. But we care a lot and believe this is the best opportunity we have. We might get anxious about a negative result.

How can we manage this impact then? Let’s give an example from a master application. You aim to have your master’s degree at a reputable university in the UK. You took your IELTS exam, got your reference letters, and completed the applications. Now you wait.

If you believe you cannot cope with a negative outcome, Clark Psychology Group advises to have Plan B and C. So not getting accepted from the first five universities in the UK is not your ultimate alternative. There are many good universities all around the world.

If you feel you could have done better, ask yourself a question. Who does? Clark Psychology Group suggests focusing on today and the future. What you can do know? It suggests planning your next move. If you believe that you could have done better for your master’s degree application, your opportunity has not passed. You may work harder for your exams, and you can increase your GPA. Even after graduation, you still have other options. You may develop new essential skills for your degree by getting additional courses via online courses. Else, you get a job, gain experience, and reapply later.

Eventually, in most cases, there are always other options. Rather than obsessing on what you “could have, should have, would have”, create your alternative. Exploring alternatives does not mean that you don’t care, but it decreases the impact of a negative outcome.

Managing the Length of Waiting

Coping with Waiting
I sometimes remember Madonna’s Hung Up song while waiting. “Time goes by so slowly…”
Image Source: Pixabay

Sometimes you wait for a month, or sometimes for a year. Even worse, sometimes you don’t even know how long you will wait. That uncertainty makes waiting unbearable. I liked some of the Lifehacker’s suggestions for that:

  • Find a distraction with results. Doing something challenging with tangible results decreases your anxiety. For example, you may prefer to complete a puzzle. Find a hobby that you can observe proof of progress. (Very good advice I believe. Writing a blog post can be my distraction 😉 )
  • Getting emotional support from people who are willing to listen. In addition to speaking with my loved ones, I personally also like to write and read things in forums. Many people with similar cases share their experiences and motivate each other. They wait, you wait, why not to wait altogether 🙂

The Personality Characteristics Affects Coping with Stress

There is research on personality characteristics and coping with the stress of waiting. Psychology Today summarizes research issued in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The research classifies people’s personalities. .I would like to summarize it in the next paragraph:

People who tolerate uncertainty can cope with the stress of waiting for more. They feel less anxious. People who are less tolerable of uncertainty are the ones who need closure. In other words, they expect things to get done. Secondly, optimism works quite well while waiting. People who believe the worst outcome while waiting suffer and become more anxious. Of course, the article expresses that being able to tolerate the uncertainty and believing in a positive outcome creates a high-value composite.

People who are okay with uncertainty and feeling positive are not a bunch of reckless losers, but healthier individuals. The opposite attitude will never change the result. So why not think positive? We did everything we could. We should feel positive and believe in ourselves. And we should make peace with uncertainty. Uncertainty is part of nature. We cannot fight with the laws of nature.

Learning from Waiting

Learning to wait is a great experience. We might think waiting is intolerable while waiting. But at the end of this process, we gain experience. I have read “10 Reasons Waiting is Good for You” in Lifehack.

While waiting, we develop patience in life. We learn to tolerate more and learn to empathize. We can convert waiting for productive habits. We can enjoy resting and relaxing. Rather than fighting with your waiting journey, try to embrace it.

Let’s Appreciate What We Have Today

More library, less internet. Back to 2000. Image Source : Pixabay

I am born in the late 80s. Internet access and cell phones were new when I was a teenager. The smartphones were a luxury when I was in university. Life was slower back than. We had to wait for more.

During high school, we had our essay homework. I remember times that I waited to access a magazine or newspaper from the library. I was filling out forms and waiting to access information for a few days. Today, I can write this blog page and can research from home. The information is just one click ahead. And, I do not even wait for minutes or hours to be just online!

When I get hungry, I can order food and do not wait even for 30 minutes to eat. Or mostly, I do not need to go and wait for a long queue to make a bank transaction. I can do online, from web or mobile.

I am lucky to experience this fast and furious change in the last two decades. Although accessing everything faster decreased our tolerance to wait, I learned to wait when I was a kid or a teenager. I know that we still wait for certain things, but we would have waited more two decades ago. We should be thankful rather than being inappreciative.

What Will You Do Now?

I am in a long, uncertain waiting process that has a massive impact on my life. I look forward to it, and I wish for the best. I have already been feeling okay, but, believe it or not, reading and writing about the waiting process made me feel a lot better. Even though I know what is right, reading about it, trying to analyze it has given me a more educated approach to my case.

While waiting, if you want to invest in yourself and learn something I have a few posts about education for project management, information technology, and language learning. Maybe you will find something interesting. 🙂

So what will you do now? What will be your strategies to cope with your waiting journey? If you wish, you can comment and share your plans. 🙂

Good luck with your journey!