One of the biggest things that I have found that adds to my stress is procrastination. I feel as though I have really mastered that skill over my years on earth thus far, perhaps I really honed this skill at university (all that exam cramming).
My biggest 'aha' moment was simply being aware of my tendency to avoid tasks that I do not enjoy but need to do.
In the past I would find myself making excuses for why I couldn't do the task or not do the task right now. I would put it off and focus on other less important things leaving the task I didn't want to do behind.
See the problem with this avoidant behaviour is that that task was still in the back of my mind when I was avoiding it. It was almost as though it was taunting me saying 'You can avoid me, but you will have to come back to me eventually'. This made me feel stressed and anxious.
When we procrastinate we build something up in our head often to seem worse than it actually is. We run through how we are going to feel doing it and why we don't want to do that particular task. This just further adds to our stress and overwhelm and can often end in us feeling down right anxious. You know that feeling in the bottom of your stomach or that tight feeling in your chest? In this case you are creating that by running through worst case scenarios and all the negative feelings attached to this task.
How I moved past procrastination by using mindfulness is by asking myself some questions to really understand why I am avoiding that particular task.
The questions are:
Why am I really avoiding this task?
Is there a particular outcome of completing the task that I am concerned about?
How am I feeling in my body, what emotions am I experiencing?
Is avoiding the task adding to my stress and how?
How will I feel when I have completed the task? (visualise this)
Let's break down my university exam scenario as an example using the above questions:
I was avoiding the task because I was stressed about the exam itself and not getting the result I had hoped for. I was feeling stressed, worried and up tight, this manifested in my body by a tight feeling in my chest and a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach. In actual fact me avoiding exam preparation was adding to my stress because it meant that I was less prepared for my exam and could have led to me getting a poor result which is what I was worried about in the first place.
The first step is being aware when you are procrastinating and why to then be able to call yourself out on these avoidant behaviours. The next and most powerful step of the process is to visualise and really feel how relieved you will feel when that task is complete, what possibilities will that open up for you?
I hope this helps.
Until next time.
Love and Light.