Procrastination Answers

How can I stop being so lazy?

Thank you for reaching out and for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are experiencing such difficulty in life and having to face some challenges which are feeling very overwhelming to you. There are a lot of people who struggle with laziness. It is common and normal for everyone to have times when they simply just don’t want to do something – or anything. However, when those moments become more frequent, and when they become quite disruptive to our functioning and our lives, then there is potentially a lot more going on. And an important first thing to consider is what is really going on. Look at laziness as a symptom of a larger issue rather than being the actual problem itself. What is causing you to have such a hard time getting anything done? It will be valuable and necessary to take stock in order to discover what is really at the root of this problem. This can entail assessing your physical health, your overall lifestyle, your daily routine, and your psychological well-being?There are a variety of reasons why this might be happening. In some cases, we might feel stuck and bored. When our routine and life becomes monotonous then our brain begins to check out so to speak. We lose the desire the keep engaging as we begin to become overcome with what feels hopelessly boring. We start to lose motivation and become uninterested in doing much of anything. Breaking this pattern can involve adding in some new and novel pleasure each day. We can try adding in some more fun, some more things we will look forward to and be excited about. They don’t have to be big things. Something small will suffice. Often, we can become paralyzed when we have too many choices and too many things vying for our focus. Too many options leads to us doing nothing. We get overly stressed out. We cannot make a decision and so we decide to do nothing. In such cases it could be time to really pull back and begin to simplify things. We can focus on what is really most important and decide on what is a priority.Then, too, there is the concern of burnout. The work we find ourselves doing might sound great and pay well and all the things. However, it could be a less than ideal match for us personally. Not every job is a good match for each person. A poor fit can ultimately take a toll on our mood and energy. Work can also drain us if we have too much to complete or are working too many hours. If we do not have a good work-life balance we will end up struggling. Chronic stress can play a role. There has just been too much to do for far too long. You just become too exhausted. We are designed to be able to handle short bursts of stress. But when the stress becomes chronic and never ending, we are not well equipped to manage this and thus we can become physically and emotionally exhausted. We find we begin to languish. It can sometimes involve a fear of conflict. It is easier to avoid possible conflict and so we do – meaning we pull back and do nothing. It can entail a fear of success or a fear of failure. There is also the possibility of depression. This common condition can result in sadness, but also tends to cause you to lose interest in things you once enjoyed. It can cause you to withdraw from social relationships. You feel tired and fatigued. You do not have an interest in doing anything – be it a hobby, or chores or work. In order to properly overcome the problem, you need to get a better understanding of what precisely is happening for you in particular. As you can see, there are multiple reasons why this could be happening. And each would require a different approach in order to overcome it. A therapist could be a help in terms of working with you to identify what exactly is going on. The therapist can ask you questions and help you figure out what things may need to be addressed. Once you have a deeper understanding of the issue, then the therapist can partner with you to come up with a plan. Together you can devise some strategies that you can implement to help you begin to move forward. Having a support there to be at your side and to guide you can be a great help. Also, it might be helpful to consider whether or not you may have an underlying medical condition. If you are finding you are struggling with a lot of fatigue, or perhaps brain fog, or some other symptoms, it can be helpful to ensure you are not actually dealing with some physical ailment. Additionally, you want to make sure you are taking care of your overall health. This means making sure you are getting enough sleep, that you are eating plenty of nutritious foods, and that you are getting in some movement. In terms of exercise, it can be especially helpful to get outside to ensure you get some sun and fresh air. Taking a casual walk with a friend at a local park might be a great option. You get in some exercise, have some support from a friend, and get some sun.  This alone can be very helpful in boosting mood and energy levels. If this has been an ongoing issue and continues to be problematic then it could be time to seek out some professional support. You do not need to figure this out alone. A professional can help you identify the source of the problem and can help you come up with some solutions.
Answered on 02/03/2023

How to avoid self-sabotage and help to discipline yourself to move forward with goals?

People tend to interrupt their own success for a variety of reasons.  So, the first step in achieving the goals you have set forth is to acknowledge the reason you are engaging in self-sabotage type behaviors.  This is the Self-Awareness aspect of determining where the procrastination or perfectionism behaviors are coming from in terms of childhood difficulties, fear, unhealthy beliefs with work or relationships, or lack of development of coping skills.  Look for the patterns in your life.  Often, it might be easier to emotionally sabotage or avoid rather than it is to reach a goal that you may have been told you would never reach.  If you are aware and conscious of the objects/activities or temptations that lead to self-sabotage, then you can begin to remove them from your life.  A common factor with procrastination behaviors is lack of self-regulation.  This can be because of too much freedom, lofty or unrealistic timeline related goals, or too many distractions.  A giant goal can feel overwhelming, so in order to have consistency with self, it's important to develop smaller and achievable goals that will ultimately lead to the long-term goal/achievement.  This is where "Creating a Plan' comes into place.  It is almost always helpful to write the plan out, so that you have a tangible plan to refer back to in moments of avoidance. Small incremental changes that continue to build upon one another is the path to overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors.  You can begin with a schedule full of things that you are already accomplishing in a day or week, and track them to train the brain towards achievement and success.  Make sure that you have them on a calendar or To-Do list where you can check the boxes once completed.  As the consistency builds, add 1 or 2 more difficult challenges to your routine or towards your goals.  For example, if getting back into physical shape is the long-term goal, the 1st step would be to schedule 15 minutes one day a week to engage in a physical activity.  It is helpful to plan in advance and allot the time on a schedule, sometimes with an alarm as a reminder that it is time to step away from the distractions and to focus on the small task.  Setting a new short-term goal of going to a gym 5 days a week, when you are just starting out, is unrealistic and a set-up for sabotage.  What you'll find is as you schedule and dedicate the 15 minutes instead, you'll want to stay with it and complete a longer duration of minutes.  Add a notation to your calendar/To-Do list that again trains the brain to the reward of not only accomplishing the task, but also doing a tad bit extra.  With the same example, as long as you follow-through on the 15 minutes, you have achieved your goal.  Also, take the time to acknowledge and congratulate yourself for achieving the 15 minutes...extra time or effort is not needed for achievement. The following week, step it up and add two 15-minutes scheduled times to the calendar.  Continue to add and build in a way where you do not overwhelm your system, but that you are slowly building in duration and intensity. This system can be applied to a variety of situations and overall goal setting. It is also important to allow yourself to have setbacks.  If you find yourself frequently starting over, then 1. it is a sign that the short-term goal may be too lofty and 2. a new goal can be set to allow for missteps or "days off".   That's when you refer back to the beginning of this message and repeat the acknowledgement phase and the plan phase.  Acknowledging that you did not complete your short-term goal and that is okay and forgivable, but also then sitting back down to solution focus on modifying the goals into something you feel is more achievable to accomplish as a short-term goal. Both CBT and DBT modalities of therapy or coaching are also helpful.  CBT will help with recognizing and relieving the cognitive distortions.  A CBT trained therapist can help with replacing negative thought patterns and building new achievable healthy goals.  A DBT trained therapist will help with teaching skills for emotional management and working with concerns that involve intense emotions. 
Answered on 02/03/2023

How to find motivation in a place that doesn't belong you?

At times our lives feel like a roller coaster- we have ups, downs, sharp turns, and lull moments. This usually occurs due to the unpredictability of life. When we feel unmotivated or not connected to our environment, we have to take a closer look at what could be the cause of this. One aspect that may be impacting us is the mindset that we are stuck. Telling ourselves we are stuck is a block that we put up when reality is that it is just a thought. Our thought of being stuck can block our creativity, motivation, energy, etc. This is because we are putting the energy out that something is not as we want it. If we shift our mindset to being more positive, open, and creative then that will move the block and allow us to get back motivation and creativity. Yes, environment can assist with this block due to not enjoying the environment we are in. When we are in an environment, we would not normally choose due to supporting family or loved ones this can cause us to not enjoy the place we are living. By acknowledging that this may not be where we want to be in our lives or not somewhere that reflects who we are how we perceive it can make all the difference. We cannot always control certain aspects or situations; however, we have a choice to how we perceive it as well as react to it. Shifting perspective to seeing both the positive, negative, and reason to why we are where we are currently can allow us to reconnect back into the situation. When our why is due to our loved ones it can sometimes assist us with recognizing that this may not be our choice however, we are being supportive. Another thing you can do with assisting the mindset change is get outside the space. Although you know things in the past that you have enjoyed the same things may not be offered in the current environment. Finding things that you like that are in this environment can allow you to find aspects that make this place a little more tolerable as well as fun. Nature is different here than other states. Finding what you can like or do with the nature that is here without comparing it to the past may assist you with making that connection. Sometimes the way we made connections in the past have to be adapted due to the differences. Another thing to explore is the possibility of depression. Sometimes when we feel that we are not connecting the same as we have in the past depression may be a factor. Talking with a professional can assist with determining if this is a factor as well as give you personalized tips to assist you with removing blocks so that you can feel more connected and creative in the areas that you need.
Answered on 01/26/2023

Now that I'm in college, why do I have a difficult time when I want to study?

Hi thank you so much for reaching out with your question!   It can be so hard to focus on tasks such as studying, particularly if the subject is something you are not all that interested in or if the subject is confusing.  It seems like you want to study but when the time comes, you are overwhelmed and this prevents you from effectively studying.  The first thing to note is that you are not alone in this struggle!   I'm wondering if these things may help: 1.  Since this has been difficult for you since you were a child, I would first encourage you to get evaluated for any type of potential learning challenge.  So many people who are highly intelligent can also have difficulty learning in some way (difficulty reading or writing letters/words/numbers, interpreting what they read, being able to repeat back what they have learned, have difficulty processing, etc).  This can be hidden for years and it would be worth checking out to see if there is an underlying issue there first.  If so, there are numerous tools and approaches that will help once there is a definitive answer about any learning difficulties. 2.  Work on Mindfulness techniques.  Mindfulness can help to slow down your brain and body and to focus on tasks more effectively.  It will be important to practice mindfulness skills even when you are not studying so that your skills can be most effective when you are trying to study.  Then study one subject/assignment at a time, focusing on that specific topic.  Let all other topics, distractions, thoughts, etc sort of float through - acknowledging these things, not judging yourself for having these thoughts, but returning your attention back to that one subject or assignment. 3.  Take advantage of outside resources.  From what it sounds like, you are in college, and colleges have specific study tools set up for student success.  Check out any study groups, form a study group with other classmates, study with a peer, check out any learning labs or tutoring on your campus, and ask a teacher for help during office hours.   4.  Set yourself up for success.  This can be done by actually putting study time on your schedule and then dedicating that time to studying.  If study groups are difficult for you (sometimes they help, sometimes not so much), utilize one of the dedicated study spaces at your campus library or make one of your own at home.  This can be a corner of the room which has no other distractions, or just clearing off your desk.  It can also be taking only your study materials into a study room at the library to limit distractions.  Set a timer for a time span you know you can do (30 mins, 1 hour, etc).  Then take a small break to walk around, get a healthy snack, etc.  Then set a timer again.  Take it in small increments and study over a period of days rather than trying to cram it all in just before something is due.  When your brain is less stressed, you will retain more. 5.  Reward yourself for doing a good job at studying by doing something you enjoy.  It can be a small reward, such as your favorite ice cream or coffee, taking a walk in fresh air, hanging out with friends, playing video games, or reading a book you don't have to read for school.  It can be helpful to set up this reward system prior to beginning studying to keep you motivated. 6.  Lastly, one of the best resources for college studying (or any studying) has been Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book.  You can find videos regarding this as well as the book online or probably in your library.  This book has helped many college students effectively study material in textbooks. I hope these resources and tips have been helpful, and again thank you for reaching out!   I wish you all the best with your studies!   You can do this!   
Answered on 01/05/2023

I don't know who I am, what I want, or what I even like. How can I reconnect to my real self?

Failure? I want to take a moment to say that I think you have a good understanding of yourself. You have insight, and you seem like you are willing to deal with difficult things. I think that you know you know yourself well and then assume that what you know is all there is. Like, if you don't see it, then it might not be accurate. Yes, your self-awareness is high, but there is always a blind spot.  In what you wrote, I see someone who believes he must be something more than he is to be accepted by people. Since going to college, you have met a larger pool of people to compare to, and now you realize you are mediocre. This is how you see yourself in comparison to others. You think that your job is to impress people, and if you can't or don't want to put yourself up to the potential of failing, you stay by yourself. You would rather be alone than fail. You would rather stay quiet than ask for help. You will be shocked if you knew what people thought of you and it wasn't what you thought.  I don't think you are lazy; you don't have the motivation because what motivates you is a fulfillment of self. You have to realize that the people that do and do successfully often do from a place of desire to see something great, not an inadequacy to fulfill with academia or the validation of a degree. Yes, inadequacy and overcompensation can get people far in life, but they are still left with the turmoil of questioning themselves. You have too many options, and you fear making a choice. It seems like you worry about what other people would think of you if you decided whatever, but then you don't know yourself enough to see what you want. What do you want out of all this, to feel better? To have friends? To not have so much pressure just to be you? And lastly, do you even accept yourself, or are you a less than person now that your grades aren't that good and you are seemingly not doing well?  You won't be what you fear because what you fear is a version of yourself is you seeing what you think would be the worst from the outside. In reality, you will subtly sabotage and make every choice along the way to whatever life you are in, good or bad, agreeing to things the entire way. Eventually, you will wake up and see where you are, but until then, you will keep living in avoidance of fear. This avoidance then puts you right where you don't want to be.  It's like the father who is controlling a son who controls his life to not be like his dad has. However, that kid then controls his entire life and others to not be like his controlling father. Then one day, he is sitting in therapy, saying he cannot be like his father because his father was controlling. You have to admit to yourself that the way you think, and the future you fear, are your problems, not lack of motivation or not having as good of grades. If you think that grades or career or what calculated choices you make will make you better or worse, you are too dependent on others to define you.  What do you want? What matters to you? Once you find your "why" you can endure any "how." 
Answered on 01/01/2023

Is therapy for me and how can it help my situation?

First of all, congratulations on graduating and starting your new career as a teacher. That is a huge accomplishment in a much needed field. Therapy is for everyone and can be beneficial in many situations. Yes, it can help your situation too as long as you're ready and willing to do the required work. What you described in your question sounds like procrastination.  While this skill can be helpful at times, putting things off until the last minute can add unnecessary stress to our days.  Creating a schedule can sometimes help with this. A counselor can help to identify strengths you already possess that will be helpful for you to utilize now. You made it through school and that alone is a challenge. That lets you know you already have the skills needed to manage; you just need to sharpen them more.  Therapy is good for helping you to improve your self awareness and learn more about you and how you function.  There are resources and tools obtainable to help those who struggle with procrastination. Together your therapist and you can tailor a plan that fits your needs.  You can assess how you got through college. For example, how did you get assignments turned in on time? What motivated you to complete school? Then find ways to implement those skills now or develop new skills. For example, if you have two weeks to complete a lesson plan, incorporating 15 minutes of planning per day could help break it down into smaller more manageable tasks.  There could also be other areas in your life that contributes to the habits you mentioned. Therapy can help you to explore those areas and find any correlation to how it affects your response now.  That's one result of therapy, being able to understand why you do the things you do. Once you understand, it sometimes helps with making the necessary changes to improve in areas you want to improve in. Overall therapy can be helpful for you in multiple ways. It's up to you to determine how you want to be helped and what you can do to facilitate that process.  Therapy is what you make it, you get out of it what you put into it. 
Answered on 11/23/2022

How can I be more productive and overcome writers block?

Hi Alz, thank you for your question regarding how you can be productive and overcome writers' block. As a writer that struggles with this myself, I can understand how frustrating this can be. In your question, you also ask about "bitter experiences" in your family and how to move past this, which is likely a separate issue so I will consider that as well. You ask how you can be productive and imply you want to write every day. At the moment, you say you can't write anything. The trick is to build things up slowly, develop your confidence and also your ability to focus. You can try short bursts of stream of consciousness writing - where you write whatever comes into your head for a set period of time. Don't judge it or think about what you're writing - just put your pen to the page, or type away at your computer, letting your mind wander and expressing whatever comes up. This can be a very therapeutic form of meditation and can spark creativity. Another method is to begin a reflective journal. You don't have to write huge amounts. Bullet journals are very popular with busy people. This is where you simply make a few notes, like bullet points, about what is happening for you, thoughts in your head, things you've observed, funny stories, things that have made you think, words you like... even something as simple as going to get a coffee or noticing some trees can turn into a creative paragraph. You may also find it helpful to write down your dreams as this can give interesting ideas and also help you become more self aware. Keep a small notebook with you and jot down ideas or interesting things. This is a great, low-pressure way of sparking creativity which then can turn into a more sustained writing practice. It's also important to consider what may be holding you back from writing. Virginia Woolf said that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction". I don't know if you're a woman or want to write fiction, but what Woolf is essentially saying is that you must be reasonably able to survive without financial instability, and you must have your own space where you can shut yourself off from other problems and responsibilities. She is talking about a life where you develop the ability to handle stress, and the ability to set good boundaries. This plays into the latter part of your question. If you are feeling really stressed, anxious, and down about yourself, writing can be a good escape as it's a creative endeavor that allows you to enter another world. However, if you're writing to try to become famous or make yourself feel better about who you are, you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself and maybe taking some of the joy away from writing. Like all creative projects, writing without joy will just fizzle out, because you won't be able to motivate yourself. Take the pressure off yourself by focusing on the process of writing, on the fun of creating characters and interesting new worlds, rather than focusing on publishing, other people's receptions, or anything external to the story. You say that you've had bitter experiences and people have hurt you. You state that people have taken advantage of you. It's hard to comment on this without knowing more of the specifics, but oftentimes, this can happen if you have low self-worth and you allow yourself to be placed in situations that may be exploitative. It's very important for mental health to develop good boundaries and understand that you don't have to put up with ill treatment. You imply that this is more something that happened in the past and you've been left with bad memories which you want to let go of. It may be worthwhile talking to a therapist who can help you process all this. It seems there is a lot of anger within you for the things that have happened to you in the past, and speaking about it to someone you trust could help dispel some of that and allow you to understand yourself better. If you are finding yourself troubled with repetitive thoughts about past events, allow your mind to move into a place of acceptance rather than anger and bitterness by turning your mind away from thoughts that no longer serve you. You can't change what has happened in the past, but you can learn from it and understand how important it is to stand up for better treatment in the future. I hope this answer is helpful to you and I wish you the best of luck for your future, Eleanor
Answered on 11/22/2022

What do you do if you get so overwhelmed that it makes you freeze completely?

A pleasure to meet you! It takes courage to be here and you just took the first step, so cheers for that! My name is Lorena Klahr and I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in Florida; I work with individuals, couples and families! Hopefully I can help you and guide you with your concern... I hear you saying that you do not know where to start or how to start when you have a lot of things going on! I like to call this procrastination, which means delaying an activity that needs to be completed. Procrastination happens as a way of coping with anxiety or negative thoughts that are difficult to cope with, which is probably what is happening to you. When procrastination happens, this coping mechanism is tied up to another one, for example, what you are mentioning about watching TV.... I want to give you some tips to fight procrastination! Hopefully it will be helpful and you can move forward and change some habits. 1) First and most important you have to consciously fight procrastination and change behaviors (perhaps, not turning on the TV at certain times of the day, try to set up a schedule or routine where you can plan when to watch TV). 2) Break tasks into manageable steps, which means do not leave everything to be completed in the moment but distribute it through the week/ month. Perhaps, grab a piece of paper and write down everything in bullet points that needs to be completed, next to it write if it needs to be done now or if it can wait. 3) Commit to a first tiny step; be conscious and sincere that you need to start somewhere. Create a reward system, example, if I do x then I can watch TV. 4) Give yourself permission to make mistakes, which means, if something does not go as planned, that is okay and part of the process. 5) Make tasks more enjoyable: add music in the back, a coffee, a little sweet, a podcast, something that tides up to what you are doing. 6) Make it hard to procrastinate, which means, do not let impulses come close, make them hard to reach. For example, do not turn the TV on. Remember, write things down and make it easier to remember (now or ideal which means when are you going to do it) and then create a reward system (if I do exercise then I can have a smoothie)... this does not mean that your positive reward system is going to be strict and will always be there, remember, it is for certain occasions where you need a little bit more of a push... time management is crucial and once you understand your time management and how your system works, things will be easier for you :) Hopefully this can guide you and help you get to a better place!  When you finish reading this, right away write things down and start the process! If you are in Florida and want further help feel free to book a session! Looking forward to hearing back from you. Respectfully, Lorena Klahr, LMFT.. Have a good day and take care!
Answered on 11/22/2022

I struggle with procrastination which then leads to anxiety, depression. How do I deal with it?

Hello Nora! What a great question! Thank you for asking!  Procrastination is a problem for many people. You are definitely not alone. There are a number of theories about the causes of procrastination. Probably, the most likely answer is that it is the result of a number of things combined with each other. 1. We procrastinate doing a task when the task seem to be too big or overwhelming. For example, I am going to put off cleaning if I believe I have to clean the whole house in one day. My brain is going to say, "That is way too much for me to do. I don't even know where to start!" Then my brain is going to say, "Let's just not do anything!" What is the answer to this problem? Most likely, the answer is to break the task down into little manageable pieces. I might feel much better about cleaning one room than cleaning the whole house. I am more likely to see that one room is do-able. I might be more willing to get started if I realize that I am going to be done in a short period of time -- not the whole day. And one of the payoffs to breaking things down into bite-sized pieces is that a lot of times we will keep going once we start even if we had previously decided to do just one room. Many times, it is just getting going that is so difficult and once we start, we keep going. Energy begets energy as the saying goes. But even if we don't want to keep going after we do the one bite-sized piece, we still have accommplished that one piece.  2. Another theory suggests that we procrastinate on those things that we fear we might not complete satisfactorily. Sometimes we have our own unrealistic standards that we think we need to live up to. Sometimes, it is someone else's unrealistic standards. Either way, if we think we cannot meet those standards, then we might convince ourselves that it is better not to even get started or try to do the task rather than risk the feeling of not having done it "perfectly" (which of course is impossible). The answer to this problem is to really come to understand how we think about ourselves and others. We need to gain some awareness of our core beliefs or what I call our scripts and rules. Are the standards that we have set for ourselves -- or the standards that we believe others have set for us -- reasonable? Could anyone actually meet those standards? It is one thing to strive for excellence but another thing to strive for perfection. The latter is not possible but if we believe it is, then we might feel paralyzed by the fear of not meeting this unreasonable standard, and we might not even start the task. We have to be able to talk to ourselves with compassion and remind ourselves that no one is perfect and it is okay to do the best we can on this task or project. 3. Another theory suggests that we do not like to feel whatever feelings are connected to this project. Perhaps the project seems boring or frightening or anxiety-provoking. If we are not willing to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings that go along with this particular task, then we might put it off as long as possible. A homework assignment might sound boring and so we wait until the last minute because we don't want to feel bored. Maybe we need to create a presentation but the idea of the presentation raises our anxiety. Maybe we don't tolerate the feeling of anxiety very well and so we put off putting the presentation together because we don't want to feel anxious. The key to this particular problem is learning to identify and tolerate our feelings. Feelings are normal human reactions to situations. They might be uncomfortable but there is a reason for our feelings. They are like little messengers that are telling us something -- maybe a warning, a need for something, some kind of message. So, the key is to learn to listen to our feelings, understand what they are telling us, and increase our ability and willingness to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. If I can learn to tolerate the anxiety that goes along with creating a presentation, I am more likely to dive in (maybe break that presentation down into pieces that I do a little at a time) and get it done rather than putting it off. 4. Another theory suggests that we do not have very good time management skills. Perhaps we are not that great at planning and organizing. So, rather than setting aside a designated time to get the task done, we just don't even think about it until it is almost due and then we panic. So the answer to this dilemma is to keep a calendar that is big enough to write down when you are going to do certain things on certain days. So if I have a big project that is due in a week, I might break it down into four parts and designate a block of time to four separate days in the upcoming week. I will write that on my calendar so I don't forget. I also have to be willing to commit to doing what I wrote on the calendar. 5. Then there is the theory that we are just too distractable. We can't stay focused on one thing so it just doesn't get done. We are not really procrastinating. We are just not getting the task done. The key to solving this problem is going to use the tip from number 4 -- blocking off a period of time and writing it on the calendar -- plus another tip which is turning off all of the potential distractions when it comes time to work on the task. Put the phone in another room so we are not tempted to look at it. Turn off the television. Create a space that is quiet and is not going to be distracting. These are just a few ideas that might help you understand why you procrastinate and what to do about it. I have a library of handouts, podcasts, and YouTube videos that I like to share with people on specific topics and procrastination is definitely one of those topics. I hope you have found this information to be helpful! Judi
Answered on 11/15/2022

How to stop procrastinating?

Hi Rumi. I am so glad that you have reached out for help. I really appreciate you bringing this great question on the topic of procrastination to the BetterHelp platform. It sounds like you are willing to make some changes for yourself in order to start improving your procrastinating behavior. It is a really good sign that you are reaching out for support at this time. I realize that it may be of great difficulty to have to constantly cope with procrastinating behavior. I hope that you have some faith in yourself that you will be able to make small improvements over time, which will likely lead to attaining bigger goals. I understand what you are saying in that your work tasks tend to pile up. What are some of the challenging aspects of your work? It sounds like you are experiencing an element of burn out as well based on how you had mentioned feeling worn down before you even have a chance to get started on completing your tasks. I have some questions for you to consider as you process your experiences with procrastination: When did you notice that this behavior started for you? Is this something new or something that you have been dealing with for a while now? How are you feeling about your behavior? Do you experience heightened anxiety or stress in the moments of procrastination? What have you been doing to manage your time lately? My advice is to explore some of these questions in therapy, through therapeutic journaling or even when talking with family or a close friend. Is there a person in your life that can help guide you and remind you to stay on track with your goals and deadlines? Utilize your support circle as a means to check in, obtain gentle reminders, encouragement and assistance. Perhaps you will be able to return the favor for the people in your life some day! The first step for you to avoid procrastination could be to begin focusing on time management. What time management skills do you have that you currently are not using? Would you be willing to keep track of due dates, events and assignments in a daily calendar or planner? Are you more of a visual learner or a hands on learner? Consider what your strengths are and focus your energy on learning new ways to improve your time management skills. You can absolutely build upon the talents, strengths and interests that you already have. The fact that you are feeling really stressed out about the procrastination is concerning to hear. I imagine that the stressful feelings must be an added layer to this experience. What can you due to manage your feelings of stress? What has worked for you in the past? I would like to encourage you to practice stress reduction skills on a daily or weekly basis. I can share with you a list of stress management strategies for your review: In addition to practicing stress management techniques, I would like to encourage you to participate in therapeutic writing or drawing directives. As a provisionally licensed art therapist, I always recommend art making as fuel for healing. Creating art, in its many forms, may allow for you to express the feelings and emotions that you have been experiencing. It is important that you have a strategy for emotional expression that you feel comfortable with doing. An art therapy approach for procrastination could be drawing a map or a timeline that depicts your daily or weekly to do list. I would also encourage you to explore more about your technique of procrastination. What has this behavior been doing for you? What are you trying to communicate to yourself, or perhaps to others, by procrastinating? Draw a picture of what procrastination means to you. Set a timer as a means to start practicing setting time limits for yourself. Time limits can also enhance and cultivate spontaneity, which in turn can reduce feelings of anxiety. Slow down your thoughts and close your eyes as you envision a calm, peaceful place. I will share it with you an activity on developing your inner peaceful place. Here is the link: In addition, I recommend making a list, such as a to-do list. You may want to keep track of your to do-list on post it notes, in a small notebook or even on a white board. It can be such a great feeling to visually see yourself physically cross off the items on your list as you complete them. Try to set multiple deadlines for yourself and your plan for accomplishments. If you missed the first one, you will have a second deadline as a back up plan. At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual counseling sessions. I realize that you have already recognized that you may be experiencing a loss of self control. Attending therapy appointments on a consistent basis may give you the foundation and encouragement that you need to regain a sense of control. Also, the therapist that you are matched with will likely help you in learning new skills. This is a great way for you to practice taking accountability and managing your time. In addition to individual sessions, you may benefit from attending a group or a groupinar. Surrounding yourself with other people who have had similar experiences, behaviors and symptoms may be beneficial for you to hear other people's perspectives on this topic. Thank you again, Rumi, for reaching out for support at this time. I want to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a great day!
Answered on 11/09/2022

How can I lessen my use of social media, Internet, YouTube etc and focus more on my studies?

Hi there, I do understand that you are finding quite challenging to keep yourself engaged with the activities you need to do. Internet, with the thousand distractions it might bring, is coming in the way of your studies. First and foremost, let me say that this is a very common issue that many people nowadays are facing. It is just very complicated to manage your time, especially because it does not seem as much time consuming as it actually is afterwards. So, there are different reasons that might push you in this sort of behavioral pattern, but all of them lead to the same two root causes:  - It could be because of procrastination.  - Your brain is constantly looking for highly rewarding activities. Let's look into them one at the time. So, procrastination is not the art of being lazy, as many would suggest and as it was seen in the past years. It is all about coping strategies. We procrastinate because we fear something. Then the way we procrastinate can vary. Anyways it has to do with emotional stress and with sense of pressure. Taking care of emotions and stressors in your life can be game changing. Many times, when my clients face challenges like this one, I invite them to ask the following question: "What is it that I am afraid of"? This very simple question can open to very deep reflections. I see that you mention that before the pandemic you did not have such issue. The pandemic did not only affect  the way our education is delivered, it affected our social life as much as our own vision of the world and the future, giving them a way grimmer look. On top of that, I see that you have recently started university. First and foremost: Well done for that. Being in university is a great experience, that can bring a lot of satisfaction, but it can quite quickly become a source of intense stress and pressure and paradoxically increase the number of meaningless activities we engage with. The way you actually wrote that message, and the choice of words and phrases that you have made, give me the impression that you are indeed a high achiever, but as well that you are quite hard on yourself. This can be detrimental to your own confidence and self-esteem. Again here, two elements that are at the core of the reasons we find in procrastination. Moving on to a more neuropsychological reason, as we said, your brain might be interested in highly rewarding activities. This is one of the most common elements of engaging with activities like web browsing and spending a lot of time watching online material. Our brain has a specific pathway, which involves dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which is technically known as the reward pathway. It basically creates an element of dependence around activities that make us release high levels of dopamine. The bad thing about this though, is that dopamine is not a compounding substance, so that I watch videos and get 7 dopamine and then do homework and get an extra 3 so that all together I have 10 dopamine. The dopamine receptors work slightly differently: if you watch videos and get 7, an activity that gives you a release of 3 will not look appealing anymore because in order to get that 3 you have to drop the 7. Your brain, as the clever machine that it is, will never take such an inconvenient choice. But unfortunately, your brain is not aware of the society and the rules around you. It will not know that doing your homework can lead to a way bigger reward and sense of satisfaction than those videos. It just thinks about maximum reward in the present moment. So, now that we have a basic understanding of the root cause, let's make a clarification. These two causes are most of the time related, triggering each other as they please. What this means in regard to your question is that the best way to control such behaviors and feel more engaged with your life, you need two things: Being more aware of your inner world, and create a structure around your life where you regulate accordingly the pleasant activities you engage with. Increasing awareness is in general always good practice. In your case, being more connected with your inner world can be optimal to raise up again your motivation levels and desire to commit. That will be a key element in order to stick to the structure we mentioned above. Your brain would not like the changes that you need to take, and will try to fight them with all its resources. That's why people many times try to bring structure but fail in maintaining it. You need to have a strong motivation in order to commit to such structural changes. That motivation comes from accepting one's fears and recalling to all the inner resources that one has inside. Remember that we work as a whole. Bringing just structure without keeping care of your inner world will quickly lead you to burnout. So, you want to approach this challenge in an holistic way and treat yourself kindly while working with your emotional world, and use the same kindness when dealing with your engagement around structure. Building structure is something easier said than done. It needs to be flexible and require to allocate space to self care (which will turn into maintenance of your structure). These are my suggestions. I hope you find them useful and if you feel in need to explore more such topics, please feel free to get in touch.
Answered on 10/28/2022

How do I push myself to keep a mindset for weightloss

Lillian, it is good that you know your problem at hand, 'Not meeting up your plans.' Only by knowing this, is the starting point of your problem solved.  First, you need to develop a reminding sign, this could be: nodding your head, raising your hand, stamping your foot or thumbs up. Once you realize that you are sabotaging yourself or giving excuses, just use your sign 'nodding your head,' this will automatically remind you that you are sabotaging or giving unnecessary excuses, then there, get on doing the important thing or planned activity for the time. That conscience you have that tells you to say,' I need ways to push past it' is the adult or parent part of yourself, this is the part in you that has all the best advice to teach and encourage you do the right things. So you can use the sign together with this conscience to overcome your habit of giving excuses and sabotaging your plans, you will always get and do the best for your life.  The use of what I called conscience is in other words called, 'Self-talk,' Every person has 3 aspects within them, Adult, Parent, and Child which develops as we grow up. We experience them as our self talk, the thoughts, that we engage in, and we experience them through the job they perform. Adult: The adult is our reasoning part, which gathers information, enables us to manage our life, to make realistic assessments and to be assertive. To do this, it needs sound information available. Parent: When working well, the parent is our teaching part. Modeled on our experiences of our parents or care givers. It monitors our actions, protecting us from harm, teaches us about life and acknowledge our efforts without criticism or judging. Child: The child's job is to be spontaneous, curious, creative and fun. Enables us to experiment, innovate and play. Together these three parts are intended to function as a balanced team, meeting the challenges of life. However, if the person experienced traumatic events or inadaquate parenting in their childhood, the inner messages or thoughts will be damaged, preventing the team from functioning correctly.  - The good news is that this comes as a result of learning the behaviour from others, the person can learn again the different way to correct the damage caused, and this is where counselling will be the best thing to engage in.
Answered on 10/23/2022

How do I escape this comfort zone and gain love and confidence in myself?

Here's the thing, there is no such thing as the "perfect time". The only time is NOW :) When we "wait for the right moment", we miss out on opportunities to grow and learn. Perfectionism may be caused by a fear of judgment or disapproval from others. Our early childhood experiences, such as having parents with unrealistically high expectations, may play a role. Perfectionism is especially prevalent in those who experienced childhood trauma, particularly if a child's parents or caregivers withheld love or affection, did not allow children to make mistakes, or if parents never spoke about their own mistakes or normalized them as a process of learning, reflecting, and growing. Often a lot of shame comes up around this.  In the above instance, children are likely to develop the belief that they must work hard by 'proving themselves' or their self-worth to gain love and approval, or that making a mistake means rejection and disapproval from caregivers.   The core belief of "it has to be perfect or I'm not good enough, I failed, I'm going to be judged, etc". This story based in the past keeps us stuck there, and unable to be present. We may be frozen with fear, questioning the "what if's" if we're always waiting for the "perfect time". Procrastination is often a symptom of perfectionism. Because perfectionists fear being unable to complete a task perfectly, they put it off as long as possible, and sometimes do not even start or finish things. This stems from the fear that not meeting the goal means that there is something bad, wrong or unworthy inside, and thus is a cycle.    There are various ways in which perfectionism can lead to procrastination. For example, it can increase the negative emotions that people experience when they make mistakes, which leads people to delay their work as a way to delay the associated negative emotions. It can create unnecessary and anxiety.    Therefore, this is not really a subject related to self discipline, but more so confidence, accountability, willingness to learn, and a sense of worthiness. Feeling safe in our body to do something that makes us temporarily uncomfortable. When we allow ourselves to let go of needing to control the outcome, we can just take the first step. The first step is the biggest step. Inheriting a beginner's mindset while allowing yourself room to learn and grow is key. Offer yourself empathy and compassion as you step into this space. 
(LCSW-C, Certified, Integrative, Mental, Health, Medicine, Provider, Trauma-Informed, Yoga, Teacher)
Answered on 09/27/2022

How to be consistent in reaching goals

We set different types of goals for ourselves to move forward and feel accomplished. Personal growth can include goals towards health, inter-personal relationships, financial, career, and family. It can be overwhelming to take on goals, whether they are small or large.  I assist many individuals who experience anxiety and stress and are not getting sleep (poor quality and not enough restful sleep). We work on setting small goals. Progressing from poor sleep 7 days a week to enough sleep 1-2 days a week is the first step we look at for goal setting. Sometimes we need assistance to develop skills to improve focus and concentration. It can be helpful to work with an objective individual to provide support and help with accountability and encouragement when it's most needed. Have you tried breaking down the goal into smaller steps, an easy to follow "map" of how to get there? A to do list with actionable items you can check off to lead you closer to your goal. The list can include a daily checklist, a weekly list, and a longer term month or year planning list. How have you successfully accomplished goals previously? What lessons can you take from those times to help you succeed in your endeavors? Are you setting realistic goals for yourself? Identify how additional supports and resources can make it easier to complete your goals. How has putting off accomplishing these goals affected your daily life and your long term plans? What are some consequences of not completing these goals?  What are the benefits you will gain from accomplishing these goals? A visual representation of what it means to achieve these goals can be a good motivator. A drawing, vision board, a small daily reward system are encouraging ways to keep moving yourself forward and help measure growth and achievement.  Dedicate some time each day to help you get closer to your goals. When you see you are able to accomplish these smaller steps, you may gain confidence and resilience needed to get closer to reaching your goals.  There are times in our lives when it can be beneficial to meet with a licensed mental health counselor to help with these types of stressors.  
Answered on 09/25/2022

Implementing good habits

Dear Butter, 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! Best, Julie 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    
Answered on 07/19/2022

What methods can I use to rewire my brain to think differently, prevent unwanted/negative thoughts?

Hello! Thank you for your questions. It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into what doesn't seem to be working very well in your life and how you would like things to be different. Your first concern is about reducing the frequency of unwanted thoughts. There are lots of different kinds of approaches for addressing this problem depending on what type of thoughts you're having and how they are interfering in your daily life. There are three general strategies I would recommend to start with. 1. In my experience, we often find ourselves pushing against unwanted thoughts and feelings and trying to force them to go away. This usually causes those unwanted thoughts to grow and become harder to deal with instead of making them smaller. On top of that, we then begin to have unwanted thoughts about the unwanted thoughts! Instead of continuing to try to fight these thoughts, I think it is more helpful to learn to "unhook" from them, allowing them to come and go. Once we have unhooked ourselves, we are free to focus on whatever it is we want to be doing instead of wrestling with those thoughts. Here is a short video describing what I mean: So, what would this look like in real life? Imagine yourself studying for an exam. As you are studying, you think, "I'm going to fail this exam." Instead of getting stuck on that thought and starting to panic or become distracted from your work, you might create a little separation between yourself and that thought by saying, "I am having the thought that I am going to fail this exam." This labels the thought as "only" a thought, rather than as a true fact and can help remind you that you exist separately from your thoughts. Then you might say, "Even though I have had this thought, I am going to keep studying," and return your attention to whatever you were trying to focus on.  Of course, this is much easier said than done. It usually takes a lot of practice to be able to do this consistently, especially with really noisy or powerful thoughts. Practicing mindfulness can help you learn to control and shift your attention more easily. There are many online resources and apps for a smartphone which might be helpful to explore. Here is a guide to get you started:   2. A second strategy for reducing unwanted thoughts is to notice specifically what your unwanted thoughts tend to be about and what effect they tend to have on you. For example, a person might notice themselves thinking, "I'm never going to get this job. There's no point in trying," every time they sit down to do a job application. That person might take a step back and notice that when they have that kind of thought, their next step is usually to give up on the application and go do something else. They might wonder, how does that help me? Giving up on the application doesn't get that person any closer to a better job, but it does prevent them from having to sit with feeling so down about themselves or from actually being rejected for a post. This person can reduce unwanted thoughts about failure by confronting the underlying reasons for their thinking - in this case, maybe thinking they can't handle feeling bad or being rejected. The reason for a pattern of thinking might not always be immediately obvious, but we don't do anything for no reason. Allowing yourself to be curious about why you think the way you do and how that pattern serves you in some way may help you to change it. 3. A third strategy for reducing the frequency of unwanted thoughts is to practice interrupting them and replacing them with more helpful thinking. Most of the time, unwanted thoughts are either completely not true or they are exaggerated versions of what is factual. For example, the thought "I never do anything right" is probably not supported by factual information. A truer version of that thought might be "I sometimes fail," or "I sometimes make mistakes." There is no need to overcorrect and say, "I always do things right," because that would also be an exaggeration. What we could do is notice that "I sometimes make mistakes" also implies "I sometimes get things right," which is both encouraging and probably supported by evidence.  For another example, let's imagine ourselves thinking, "I hate myself." That might feel true in the moment. It might even really be true. It wouldn't help to contradict that thought by saying, "I love myself," because that wouldn't feel sincere. Instead, we might try focusing on a part of ourselves that isn't completely detestable or an action we can take. For example, we might say, "I am kind to my friends," or, "I can keep going, even when I feel this way." It may take a few tries before you find the approach which works best for you. Your second concern is about acquiring unwanted behaviors such as procrastination. The good news is that picking up habits isn't as simple as "monkey see, monkey do." If that were true, you'd be able to ditch a bad habit by watching someone do the opposite and convincing yourself to do that instead! There are two things I recommend as a starting point for what you have described: 1. Just like with unwanted thoughts, it is important to understand how an unwanted behavior is benefiting you, however indirectly. Nothing happens for no reason, and every problem begins as a solution to some other problem. Common reasons for procrastination include fear about success, fear about failure, lack of interest or enjoyment of the activity in question, and avoidance of boredom or discomfort while doing an activity. Addressing the reason(s) for the unwanted behavior eliminates the need for the unwanted behavior, and it can be replaced with something more effective. 2. Reward is more motivating than punishment. Our response to our own unwanted behaviors is often to punish ourselves with self-criticism and shame, but this rarely leads to long-term change. If we are training a dog, it isn't very helpful to shout at it for jumping up on people. It is more effective to teach the dog what we want it to do instead and reward it for the desired behavior. Humans are just like any other animal in that we learn this way, too. It might be helpful to learn more about reinforcement (things which make a behavior more likely to happen) so that you can apply them with yourself. I recommend Karen Pryor's (short) book, Don't Shoot the Dog! as a starting point.  Your third concern is about changing your current mindset to be more like a previous one. Without knowing exactly what you're talking about or what has happened to change your mindset, it is hard to give specific advice. What I can say is similar to what I outlined above for unwanted thoughts and behaviors: understanding the reasons for your current mindset will be key to changing it. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate. Let's imagine an outgoing person with many friends. Over the course of a couple of years, this person experiences some hurts and disappointments in friendships and dates someone who betrays them. They begin to think that others will always let them down and they become more guarded with the people in their life. They withdraw from their friends and stop returning calls, so their friends stop calling. This person now thinks of themselves as totally alone and adopts a mindset that they're better off without any friends. From the outside, we can see that this mindset, for all of its drawbacks, started as a way to protect this person from the pain of betrayal and disappointment.  For a second example, let's imagine a person who believes that anything they want will come to them and expects others to do things for them. And why shouldn't they? Perhaps this person has grown up in an environment where they haven't had to put in very much effort to get what they want. As a result, perhaps this person thinks that things will "work themselves out" and therefore doesn't put much work into problem-solving. In conflicts, they expect others to apologize and make things right. This kind of entitled mindset has many disadvantages, but it protects the person who holds it from having to take any accountability for their own life or do the difficult work of self-reflection and improvement. It is important to remember that a problematic mindset or pattern of thinking formed over the course of a few years is not going to disappear in an afternoon. It takes time and a lot of effort to change situations like these, and it can be frustrating and discouraging, especially if we're trying to do it all alone. You say that these struggles have been happening for the last two to three years, which makes me wonder if there might be some other factors like stress, anxiety, or depression going on. If you can, I would recommend that you speak with a counselor or therapist to help you better understand what's happening and how to move forward. You mention your academic life; it might be worth finding out if your school offers any resources for counseling or similar student support. If not, perhaps an internet-based therapy service like BetterHelp or another platform could help. Thank you again for your questions. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you good luck. Warmly, Kate
Answered on 07/05/2022

What steps do I take to stop procrastinating and get my life together?

Stressors in life can take a big toll on our lives. Especially when we have a lot on our plate and have different roles that we partake. Having a full-time job is a lot to manage. When you add being a parent, it just makes the load a bit more heavy to manage. Many times, the amount of support that we have from others can help reduce the stress. But if we don't have a lot of help, the level of responsibility can feel a lot heavier. Procrastination is often the result of feeling overwhelmed due to many stressors present in our lives. Avoiding tasks or pushing them aside is oftentimes the result of wanting to escape so many tasks. The reason that people procrastinate varies from person to person. Some people just need a break as they feel exhausted and push things until the last minute. Other people worry a great deal about accomplishing a task effectively that it leads to completing it at a later time than anticipated. Thus, we can see how procrastination can happen to some people.  Unfortunately, leaving things until the very end, causes more feelings of anxiety, guilt, and frustration. And it doesn't really get the work done in the most effective way. It can also take a toll on us as we may beat ourselves up or wonder why we couldn't get to the task sooner. We may feel emotionally and physically drained for leaving these tasks until the last minute.  So why does procrastination keep happening to some of us? Avoidance is a coping mechanism that we do as a way to defend ourselves. For example, if we feel overwhelmed to the point where we cannot think about the tasks at hand that we need to complete, we may just push everything aside to take a mental break. Whether it is something that is conscious or not, it happens sometimes. Thus, it is important we try to identify it in the moment when it happens.  In addition, sometimes fear of failure can get in the way of getting started on some tasks. For instance, imagine completing a project at work that took a lot of time. Let's say that you spent all of your day completing and paid extra attention to the details. When you submit the project to your boss, she is upset because of it was done "all wrong." We may feel invalidated or question or ability to work. And sometimes situations like this can cause us to feel unworthy or capable of completing future tasks.  So how do we stop it or move forward? It can take some time. Breaking any habits that we have been doing for awhile can take some time. But even acknowledging it and identifying it in the moment can make all the difference. Once we catch ourselves engaging in habits that we don't want to partake in, we can take the necessary steps to avoid it from happening again. So of course, time management, thought reframing, and breaking down big tasks can help a great deal. In terms of time management, you have a lot on your plate. But there is only one of you to go around. There may be some tasks that you need to complete yourself, but that doesn't mean that you have to complete them all. Sometimes that may mean having a conversation with your boss about delegating tasks or finding help if it feels like it is too much. And if support is lacking at work, is this the job that you want to continue if your needs are not going to be met. Just something to think about. And when you complete big tasks, remember to reward yourself. Self-care is also an important part of your emotional well-being. Reframing how we think about situations can also take some time. If we are struggling with our self-esteem, believing in our ability to complete tasks effectively can be a bit of a process. Many times through self-help books or therapy, we can learn to better deal with these situations. Putting ourselves down or sitting with thoughts that make us feel bad about ourselves doesn't help us accomplish our goals. Instead, it pauses our ability to move forward and that can be problematic if we are on deadlines. If a thought about unworthiness comes up, it is important to try to reframe it in a way that motivates us rather than discourage us. Breaking down bigger tasks can really help us feel less overwhelmed. For instance, the thought of cleaning up a very messy room can be quite overwhelming. We may not know where to start or how to organize anything. And this can discourage us from moving forward or wanting to even start. We can start by 1) organizing items, such as clothing, accessories, trinkets, and so forth. Once we have divided up tasks, we may want to 2) put them in containers. We may then want to 3) label them and 4) then put them away. Easier said than done. And depending on the messiness of the room, it may take a long time to get this completed. So even if it took a week to complete all the tasks, we can cross of every item off the list as we go through the process.  So yes, it will take a lot of reframing and restructuring the way that we do things. It is important to recognize that if we feel like what we are doing now isn't working, then leaving it as it is will likely not result in change unfortunately. So adding structure and holding ourselves accountable to completing tasks another way can make all the difference. And how you choose to go about this journey is completely up to you. But if you feel stuck or want additional support, feel free to seek out counseling or therapy services to get more guidance on this topic. Best of luck to you with everything.
Answered on 04/29/2022

Are attachment issues real?

Attachment describes how two people develop the relationship and how it impacts the bond between them over time. Usually, when we think of attachment issues, we think about parent-child issues. However, attachment issues are real and can affect relationships, romantic, platonic, parent-child, and professional-related. The primary factor with attachment is the person's ability to connect and form meaningful relationships with others. Studies have shown that attachment issues stem from emotional instability, primarily the feeling of fear. Fear is the driving force that causes attachment issues in romantic, platonic, parent-child, and professional related relationships.  ROMANTIC Romantic relationships are the most exciting and scary relationships of all time. When we open ourselves up to a romantic relationship, we agree to give our fragile and sensitive hearts to another person, metaphorically speaking. Many believe that the heart is the core of our entire state of being, so if someone decides to harm or destroy someone's heart, in theory, that person will die. The fear of theoretical death often stops someone from being in a romantic relationship or not giving the romantic partner their heart. Walls are built around the heart and even the person for protection, and it becomes challenging, if not impossible, to create that bond that will develop the relationship. The relationship has attachment issues.   PLATONIC Platonic relationships, or friendships, are the roots that keep us grounded in life. The fear of friendships stems from the fear of trusting and being vulnerable with another person. Friends are the people who know all the skeletons and have been there through the good and bad times. The fear of someone else having that much knowledge about us is scary. Being dependent on someone else to be the root that helps us hold things together can feel overwhelming, especially if we fear they will leave us or divulge what they know about us. Again, walls are built, and limited information is given in the friendship, and the relationship never develops.  PARENT-CHILD Parent-child relationships are the most common suffering from attachment issues. This is usually caused by a neglectful or abusive parent or a child being adopted. In either scenario, the child fears trusting that the parent will be there for them or do what is best for them. Trusting someone to provide all basic life necessities and more is the highest level of trust that you can give. When this trust is broken, the fear of an unsafe livelihood becomes the only constant we feel and know. Metal walls with barbed wire fences become a security blanket, and the development of any future relationships becomes questionable.  PROFESSIONAL RELATED In our professional world, we have to build relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and associates. There has to be a trust that everyone is working towards a common goal. The fear of sabotage, job loss, or inadequacy can prevent the development of these relationships. Attachment issues can disrupt the entire workplace. 
Answered on 04/28/2021

How mindfulness helps students?

Mindfulness has many great components that would help a student in their studies.  Many of the problems that students face when it comes to items like studying, completing assignments in a timely fashion, and handing high world work can be improved by applying mindfulness skills. Let us take a look at each problem area a study may face: Study: what are the barriers that students typically face with trying to study?  Most common issues include items like distractibility, difficulty with concentration, and feeling overwhelmed.  A common principle of mindfulness that would help is the practice of being present-centered.  Despite this sounds easy in theory; it takes much practice to be competent in this area but is highly effective once conditioned to focus on living in the moment.  This will help to minimize distractibility and improve concentration.  Deep breathing is a common practice of mindfulness, which will help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, and it also brings a sense of calmness to help support better concentration. Completing assignments: It is commonly known that students tend to procrastinate quite a bit, which affects their ability to complete the assignments and can also lead to some self-deprecating feelings and unnecessary/unrealistic expectations.  Teaching the practice of non-judgment will help alleviate unnecessary self-deprecating thoughts, making it more challenging to focus on completing assignments.  It is hard to focus on work if your thoughts are being consumed with automatic negative thoughts.  If students can implement more non-judgmental practices, they will be less likely to procrastinate. They won’t be avoiding the internal shame they feel with not meeting an unrealistic standard they have set for themselves.  Handing in quality work: Another concept is “one mindfully,” which is where you focus on one task at a time, and you fully engage in the one task.  We live in a world where it is socially acceptable, even at times encouraged to multi-task.  However, studies have shown that multitasking hurts the quality of work you complete.  So, teaching your students the importance of doing something one-mindfully will support better quality work.  Although it may be challenging to convince your students to disconnect from distractions like technology and social media, it will be worth the effort if they can embrace the concept of one mindfully. Trying to implement these types of mindfulness practice with students will help your students greatly in the long run, not only with their assignments and their education overall but also with the lifelong journey into adulthood and independence.  These teachings are life skills; they will carry them beyond coursework and grades. 
Answered on 04/28/2021