Procrastination: Anxiety’s Best Friend and Worst Enemy
Feelings of being overwhelmed and anxiety go hand in hand.
For many, it makes us freeze instead of taking action (which would be a more effective way for us to deal with all we have to do).
Tackling those dishes or finishing that assignment will help with the anxiety. It will take one more thing off the list, it will give us a feeling of accomplishment, and it will stop us worrying about when and how we will get it done; but because we feel so overwhelmed, we can’t seem to start on the task.
So, we tell ourselves that we are too anxious to add something else and we can start on it later.
Then it gets later and later and we worry about the assignment being late or the fact that company is coming and the kitchen is a mess. Then we rush around trying to clean up an hour before the guest arrive or we pull an all-nighter with the assignment which causes more anxiety.
It becomes a vicious cycle that becomes very hard to break. Procrastination is a friend because it eases the anxiety in the moment and we can do something we enjoy rather than what is overwhelming. Procrastination is an enemy because, while the moment may be better, it only causes more anxiety in the long term.
So, how do we overcome procrastination?
Here are 5 tips to do just that:
1. Try not to let things pile up. This is a hard one because it requires planning and organization but doing the work now will pay off because we will be less likely to feel overwhelmed.
2. Take small steps. The whole task doesn’t have to be done at once. Make small goals and check them off as you achieve them. I mean this literally! Checking off accomplished tasks gives a sense of satisfaction that will help to motivate us to continue with our goals. Tasks should be broken up into steps. For example: You have been putting off doing the laundry. Make a “deal” with yourself that you will do one load in the morning, then fold in the afternoon, put away the clothes in the evening, then do another load tomorrow.
3. Take breaks or “planned procrastinations”. This works well especially if it is a task that is particularly unpleasant or daunting. After each small task is checked off, plan for a short break. Set a timer and stick to that time frame. Depending on how difficult it is to accomplish the task (either due to feeling overwhelmed or just not wanting to do it), make breaks more frequent.
4. Use self-talk to counteract the procrastinator’s best weapon: excuses. “I can do this small thing, then I’ll get a break”, “If I just do this, I know I’ll feel better”, “It’s ok that I really don’t want to do this but I know I can make myself”.
5. Be kind to yourself. Do the best you can and acknowledge your progress no matter how small it may seem.
Whew! I finally got this article done. It feels good!
– Nancy Kearnan, Registered Counsellor
This is great stuff, Nancy! Procrastination is something we can all relate with.
Nancy would love to work with you.
She works with Adults, Kids 2 yrs & older and Youth 13+.
Nancy is a Registered Counsellor who is extremely experienced.
She does excellent work with:
– Grief and Loss
– Self Confidence
– Self Esteem
– Mental Health (Bipolar, OCD)
– Self harm
– Suicide Ideation
Cheers to less procrastination and more action,