I am so glad that you found BetterHelp and that you have reached out for support. It sounds like you have a lot going on, and that mainly you would like help to reach your full potential by increasing your self-confidence and getting motivated so that you procrastinate less. The good news is that there are of ways to achieve these goals and I am confident that a therapist here on BetterHelp will be able to help. I also have some recommendations for you to consider while you are waiting to be matched with your therapist.
1) MAKE A SCHEDULE. You may already be doing this, but I strongly suggest that you set yourself a schedule for the day (even days when you are not working and do not have a lot going on). For example, it could look like:
0800 – 0900: Eat breakfast and shower
0900 – 1000: Clean the kitchen and one other room in the home
1000 – 1100: Return text messages and email; Pay bills or other tasks I’m avoiding
[And so on….]
When you make a schedule and then follow it, you may feel a great sense of accomplishment, even though these are just regular tasks.
2) GET BUSIER. Some people are *less* productive when they do not have a lot to do, and *more* productive when they have a lot on their plate. Do you fall into this group? If so, find additional things to do in your spare time to increase your sense of urgency about getting things done.
3) MAKE SMART (S – M – A – R – T) GOALS. Sometimes we make goals for ourself that are far too big and then we feel bad when we can’t achieve them. With your therapist here in BetterHelp, you will be able to track a variety of goals and work together to make progress (usually starting with very small things, and then working up to bigger goals. We use the acronym S – M – A – R – T to help. I’ll give you an example. Let us say that you want to start exercising more regularly. Instead of just saying “I want to be fit,” we would follow the S – M – A – R – T acronym:
S: Specific. For example, what *kind* of exercise?
M: Measurable. For example, is this the kind of thing your can measure (instead of something like “look good” which is very hard to measure).
A: Attainable. For example, making sure that it’s a reasonable goal (like starting with 15 minutes and then working up so you can have a taste of success)
R: Relevant. For example, does this goal actually have anything to do with your overall needs?
T: Time-based. For example, how long and how often would you do the exercise?
Putting all of the S – M – A – R – T together, you may end up with a goal like “I will walk for 20 minutes at least three times a week.”
4) LEARN MORE ABOUT ANXIETY. Sometimes fear can prevent us from trying things. Physical sensations like increased heart rate, sweating, feeling overwhelmed and panicked are signs of your fight or flight response. This is an evolutionary function of our sympathetic nervous system that helps our bodies prepare for dealing with predators (either to fight or flee). In addition, you may feel your muscles tense up and a surge of energy as glucose and adrenaline are released into your bloodstream. The fight or flight response makes a lot of sense if you are dealing with a physical threat, but it does not help us much when our threat is a work deadline, being late for an appointment, meeting a new person, poor internet connection, or other modern stressors. Indeed, too much of the fight or flight response causes stomach upset, muscle tension, bad mood, trouble sleeping, and eventually even lowered immunity (do you ever notice how college students always get sick right after final exams?).
- Disrupt intense fear or the fight or flight response with deep breathing. Learning deep belly breathing (or “diaphragmatic breathing) is a great tool to add to effective stress management. Taking time to breathe deeply for a few minutes is a free and easy to learn method to take you out of the fight or flight zone and into a zone where you can think more clearly and not experience those side effects. You can Google “deep breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” to start learning a technique that really helps most people. You can find mobile apps to help (for example the Breathe2Relax or the Virtual Hope Box app – both are free and evidence-based) or watch videos online that can walk you through it. These are skills that not only help you now, but can assist you throughout your entire life (for example, dealing with road rage, poor customer service, annoying family). You can also disrupt the fight or flight response in the moment with just a minute or two of intense exercise (for example, push-ups, jumping jacks or walking up and down a flight of stairs). This helps use some of the adrenalin and glucose that are released into your blood stream when you have encountered a stressor and leaves you thinking a bit more clearly.
5) AVOID PERFECTIONISM. If you are trying to do things perfectly or get an A+ on every assignment, you may actually be hampering your success. When we want to be perfect, sometimes we are too nervous to get started. Below, I will list a variety of anti-perfectionism affirmations. This may sound silly, but please pick one that is meaningful to you Write it on a sticky note, a note card, or a piece of paper and post it where you will see if while brushing your teeth, working, or driving. You can even make it the image for your phone’s lockscreen. Read it out loud a few times a day, and it will slowly start to sink in. When you feel stressed about being imperfect, repeat the affirmation. You can find many more of these online (just search for anti-perfectionist affirmations), but here are several I have collected:
- Nobody is expecting me to be perfect.
- Only God is perfect.
- The most important thing is family, and my family loves me.
- My worth is not based on my achievements.
- It is healthy to relax and have fun.
- Everyone needs to rest, including me.
- I am enough
- I cannot worry about things I cannot control.
- My health is more important than my performance/accomplishments.
- I will give myself grace when I make a mistake.
- Mistakes are growth opportunities.
- I value learning more than being right.
- Everyone makes mistakes.
- I choose to enjoy the process, not just focus on the outcome.
- Excellence is not the same as perfection.
- I am more than my appearance (or grades or salary or any external marker of success).
- I am doing my best and that is all I can ask of myself.
- I do not have to be perfect for people to like/accept/love me.
- Relationships need authentic connection, not perfection.
- Perfection is unrealistic.
- I accept others just as they are.
- My best effort is not the same as perfection.
- There's more than one "right" way to do something.
- When things do not go as planned, I will adjust my expectations.
- I do not have to do it all.
- Having fun is not a reward you have to earn.
- Slowing down helps me recharge and be thoughtful about my commitments and expectations.
- Good enough really is good enough.
- Done is better than perfect.
- Progress, not perfection.
- I am imperfect and I am still enough.
Again, I am so glad you have reached out to us at BetterHelp. I see good things in your future!
Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.