mindfulness

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.

What Does Mindfulness Do for You?

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The negative impacts of stress seems to be a part of modern life. But does it have to be that way? Read on to learn how the practice of mindfulness can relieve stress and improve your health. Practical tips included!

(Read Part 1 of this series on mindfulness here!)

by Kristy Gargano, LSW

mindfulness expanded

In the book A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein explain, “Today, mindfulness has expanded beyond its spiritual roots and even beyond psychology and mental and emotional well-being. Physicians are prescribing training in mindfulness practice to help people deal with stress, pain, and illness”. The reason health care professionals are prescribing, teaching, and even using mindfulness techniques themselves is because of its evidence-based research on how mindfulness impacts our mind, body and overall health.

how stress affects you

Let’s use stress as an example. Although stress is a normal human response, when confronted with constant stress, such as ongoing health issues, financial issues, or other daily stressors, if we don’t find a way to unwind in a healthy way, we become stuck in that state of stress. We soon struggle to differentiate between life and death situations, such running from a tiger, and everyday issues, such as your boss yelling at you. When these things are happening, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, and our bodies emit stress hormones that prepare us to do things like fighting back or running. Staying stuck in this state can lead to physical symptoms such as

  • headaches

  • muscle tension

  • digestive issues

  • weight gain and more.

The reason this happens is because, when in fight or flight mode, other parts of your body that aren’t necessary for your survival shut down or slow down, like your digestive system. Now insert a daily mindfulness practice, and we can regain control of our minds and bodies. Mindfulness practices will activate our parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for counteracting the effects of the sympathetic nervous system by bringing us back to a calm, regulated state.

Formal vs Informal Mindfulness Practice:

There are two distinct categories of mindfulness that can help you and your body reap the benefits of mindfulness: Formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal mindfulness practice is typically a scheduled practice that consists of some type of medication lasting 10 to 60 minutes, sometimes more. Informal mindful practice is something you can do anytime, anywhere. It is about bringing non-judgmental awareness to the activities in your daily life.

A few formal mindfulness practice are:

  • Body scan

  • Yoga

  • Progressive muscle relaxation


A few informal mindfulness practice are:

  • Enjoying your favorite beverage

  • Art/creative process

  • Washing dishes


The formal and informal practices listed above are just a few that are available. Because of the growing research and popularity, there is a large number of other resources at your fingertips, and it can become overwhelming to navigate. It may be helpful to find a mindfulness-based practitioner to help support you on finding mindfulness practices that works best for you.

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