calm

Does Your Anxiety Make You Procrastinate or Pre-crastinate?

Are you being productive or is it a case of pre-crastination?

Are you being productive or is it a case of pre-crastination?

By Kristy Gargano, LSW

When I was in high school, I was a procrastinator. Sometimes it was so bad that I wouldn’t do assignments at all. At that time I just thought it was “normal” teenage stuff; lack of motivation…blah blah blah. Maybe that was only part of it.

I think my struggle in high school impacted me so much that when I found myself in college a bit later than my peers, the exact opposite happened. I found myself getting assignments, big and small, done as early as possible. Not only that, but I was a perfectionist (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still working on this). Even through grad school in my late 20’s I struggled with not slowing down. I wanted assignments done, because anything left undone for too long had me feeling so uncomfortable that the anxiety would sometimes be unbearable.

While all my procrastinator people out there might see “getting things done quickly” as a good thing, it is still anxiety driven, and can have negative ramifications.

But “What is PRE-crastination” you ask? Pre-crastination was a term that David Rosenbaum, Lanyun Gong, and Cory Adam Potts at Penn State came up when conducting a study on how humans and animals perform tasks. If you do a quick Google search of pre-crastination, you’ll find articles right away, but I’ll let you look more into this on your own. Simply put, procrastination is putting things off and pre-crastination is getting things done very quickly.

Although pre-crastination sounds ideal, it has its pitfalls.

When you get a disgruntled text from a friend or family member, do you respond to it right away?

Responding to someone hastily can lead to more problems by not pausing to think of the outcome. Getting things done too quickly may also lead to putting in more effort than necessary. If left with too much time to complete a school assignment or work project, you might spend more hours working on the task, possibly even finishing it and then going back later to modify an already great outcome.

Whether you are a procrastinator or a pre-crastinator, the goal is to pace yourself with tasks in order to manage anxiety and not get too overwhelmed.

5 practical ways to manage anxiety

(with tasks and projects)

  1. Know your anxiety triggers: First and foremost, know when your anxiety is in the driver seat. Anxiety is intended to protect us, and keep us alert, but when it comes to getting tasks done, anxiety is our nemesis.

  2. Manage anxiety: deep breathing to lower your heart rate, listen to calming music, do a body scan meditation to get that tension in check.

  3. Create a task list: Break big tasks into smaller ones and put a reasonable limit on how much time is spent on each task (procrastinators may put in less time and pre-crastinators more time, so keep this in mind). This will help you pace yourself and act as a reminder that the task will end, especially if it’s something less than enjoyable.

  4. When possible, find a work environment that is relaxed and less distracting: I don’t know about you, but when my house is a mess, so is my brain. I can be realllllly good at the “I should really clean before doing a, b and c”. Finding a space free of clutter, or even leaving the house will help stay focused on the task.

  5. Schedule, schedule, schedule! : If your schedule is a very busy one, this makes getting tasks done a bit easier, at least in my mind, because your time has already been limited for you. With too much down time, it can be easier to put things off until the last minute, OR use all the time in the world to get something done. Again, set a reasonable schedule for your week. You might find yourself more productive than you thought! If you’re a pre-crastinator, schedule time to do something relaxing, because it can be terribly hard to slow down. Perhaps just sit and enjoy some tea or coffee.

If you need the support of a compassionate counselor who knows how to manage anxiety in, call Kristy today at 630-480-0060 x 706 or fill out the “Get In Touch” form on our contact page.

Mindfulness: More than a buzzword; More than just sitting with your eyes closed.

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Curious about the true definition of mindfulness? Racing thoughts, trouble relaxing, worry filling your mind? Read more to find out how mindfulness can help you in everyday life.

(A 2 Part Series)

By KRISTY GARGANO, LSW

You’re standing in line at the store. You’re already in a hurry because you need to get to work on time for a meeting. You realize the person in front of you is not only buying items, but also has several returns, and this is   the only lane open… Your head is racing with thoughts about yelling at the cashier to hurry up, and then about how you’re already on thin ice with your boss, and you become increasingly agitated. Caught up in your thoughts, you haven’t realized how tight your chest feels, and the fact that you’re taking short, shallow breaths. Instead of finding ways to calm yourself, you begin to sigh audibly so that the person in front of you, and the cashier might hear you. This, of course, doesn’t speed up the process.

Once you’ve left the store, you race to work, and there’s not one moment given to yourself to check in and slow down. The experience at the store sets the tone for your entire day, and you end up labeling it “a very bad day”. Can you relate to this experience at all? I know I can. And if you could see me, you’d see my hand raised with admission. In this scenario, were you being mindful? No. Was your mind full? Most definitely. I’m sure each one of you reading this can think of a different situation where you were stressed, anxious, or *insert strong emotion here*, and were so caught up in the negativity of the situation that it spilled over into other parts of your day. Can I tell you a secret? It happens to most of us, if not all. The most challenging part, I think, is what happens after we realize how we reacted or responded to situations. Typically, self-judgement sets in, and it takes us even further away from a mindful state.

What is mindfulness?

So, what is mindfulness? Jon Kabat-Zinn explains it as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. Looking back at the above scenario, if you are thinking about what already happened, or what’s to come, you are stuck in the past or thinking ahead to the future, not the present moment.

  • Ruminating about the past leads to → Depression

  • Overthinking and worrying about the future leads to → Anxiety

  • Focusing on the here and now leads to → Awareness, contentment, stillness, being able to settle into whatever is happening in the moment, and much more.

You may be considering, “But Kristy, thinking about the past and future is unavoidable”, and to some degree you are right! We need time to reflect back and plan for our futures. It’s when the past and future get in the way of our living in the here and now that we notice trouble. Don’t worry, this happens to all of us. It is the very second we notice our mind has wandered that we are being mindful. That is what it means to practice mindfulness. The more we bring awareness to our wandering mind in a gentle and kind way, the more we gain control of it. Practicing mindfulness is not a one-and-done kind of deal. That’s why many people call it a “practice”, because it takes repetitive application, and it becomes easier and easier to recognize when you are not being mindful the more you apply it.

Why Mindfulness is Trending

Mindfulness has grown in popularity over the years because, when practiced consistently, it gives results. Mindfulness practices, some of which I will cover more in the coming blog post, have evidence-based research backing its ability to decrease depression, anxiety, and pain, among other things. I have personally found mindfulness has helped me feel more grounded, more aware of the little joys in life, and most importantly, how my body communicates with me in subtle ways that I never noticed before.

If you need the support of a compassionate counselor for racing thoughts, anxiety, worry, or life stress, call Kristy today at 630-480-0060 x 706 or fill out the “Get In Touch” form on our contact page.