man staring out a window

With the compounded demands of work and home heaped on your plate, it can be hard to be patient. But being impatient can make matters worse. Impatience leads to stress, which can cause health problems like anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and high blood pressure. If you have trouble being patient, don't worry--it's a skill that you can learn through practice. Try these nine tips to improve your equanimity.

1. Control your calendar.
When you overbook your day and try to cram 20 hours' worth of activities into eight, you'll find yourself rushing to complete each one and move onto the next. Instead, schedule fewer activities and leave yourself a cushion of time around each event. Then you can take the time you need to complete each item without added pressure.

2. Minimize stressful situations.
While you can't always steer away from stress, in many cases you can choose not to take on an activity that you find stressful. For example, if spending time with a certain person always works your last nerve, rethink whether this is a healthy friendship. If getting groceries at noon puts you in long lines that you don't have time to wait in, reschedule shopping at a less busy time.

3. Slow down.
Impatience is a rushed and frantic state of being that's unpleasant for both you and those around you. Combat your impatient tendencies by consciously making an effort to slow things down. If you find yourself going a mile a minute and snapping at everyone in your path, recognize that you're spiraling into impatience. Take a step back and stop pushing yourself so hard.

4. Take a breath break.
Focus on your breathing. No matter where you are or what you're doing, you can always regain your composure by simply becoming aware of your breath. Pay attention to breathing in and out a few times, more slowly and deeply than you usually do. You'll feel calmer before you know it.

5. Change shoes.
What's behind impatience? Many times, it's other people. Maybe someone else isn't moving the process forward as quickly as you'd like or doesn't understand what you need done. In these cases, it can help to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Does the other person have a lot on their plate? Have they recently gone through a difficult time at work or at home? Most people aren't trying to make your life harder. Cutting them some slack can help curb your frustration.

6. Write down your values.
Remembering what you care about most can help you keep perspective on things that are less important. Writing down your values can help you remember, for example, that helping others is important to you. With that in mind, it's easier to not sweat the small stuff.

7. Remember how you want to be treated.
Can you recall the last time that someone was impatient with you? How did it make you feel? No one likes to be rushed or made to feel bad for going at their own pace. When you feel the urge to express your impatience with someone, whether it's an adult or a child, remember to treat others the way you'd like to be treated.

8. Run, bike, walk, or swim!
Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that improve your mental health. Nothing works better to help soothe impatient feelings than getting your "sweat" on.

9. Think ahead.
Whatever is causing your impatience, ask yourself: will this really matter five years from now or even next week? Many times, the answer is no. Much of what brings feelings of impatience may be things that present themselves as urgent, but are not really important when you stop to think about it.