Maybe tomorrow…the battle to overcome procrastination

In his 2016 “Ted Talk,” Tim Urban presents an interesting journey into a procrastinator’s mind. He explains there are two types of procrastination — deadline-based and non-deadline based.

A deadline-based example is when you’ve known for over three months that you have an article to write for a local newspaper only to find yourself at the computer the night before looking for a topic. While I can tell you firsthand this type of stress can be a bit painful, it turns out that it’s not all that harmful to the body. While three months is a long time to put something off, and this stress can be a burden on your central nervous system (CNS), at least it has an end point. A deadline provides the body with a chance to stand down and lick its wounds after the event has passed.

Non-deadline procrastination is a totally different animal and can be a silent killer, as it provides us with the lion’s share of stress in life. Chronic procrastination can literally age us. Examples include: not going to the gym, putting off spending time with family, not being present for your partner, staying in a dead-end job, not cleaning the house, or maybe ignoring the importance of balancing your budget.

While deadline stress can be a burden on the CNS, its effects are dampened because an end is in sight. Non-deadline stress, however, does not go away. It is life sucking and is largely responsible for the breakdown of your body. In my stress reduction class, I discuss the fact that zebras don’t get ulcers. They also aren’t fat, typically don’t get sick and are rarely tired. You see when the zebra is chased by a lion, it goes into its fight or flight response. The heart rate goes up, sugar stores are released, brain becomes task focused and short-term memory is suppressed. Digestive, reproductive and all “non-essential” functions shut down; all so it can flee. When it survives, it will go under a shady tree, eat some grass, wag its tail and go back to its baseline state. This is good and, as a result, it will recover only to become stronger.

Unfortunately, we are not zebras. We do get ulcers and do stress chronically. We are depressed, fat, sick and tired. As stress replays over and over, the heart is damaged, an abundance of insulin leads to diabetes, our digestion becomes poor and the list goes on. Many of us are living in a state of guilt, ruminating on what we should or shouldn’t be doing. This leads many to self-medicating with food and drugs all in an effort to escape the “dark cloud” of procrastination. The end result? A loss of health and quality of life.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many of the effects of non-deadline procrastination are reversible and really all it takes to move towards being a zebra is asking yourself, “what have I been procrastinating?” The next step is simply doing something to prove to yourself you are worth it. Join a gym, take a walk, say no to dessert; hold the door open for someone, give them a back rub, simply say that you love them. The first step is the hardest, but the benefit is a life worth living. Wouldn’t today be a great day to make a change? Or … maybe tomorrow …

Solley, owner of Solley Health First Chiropractic, has 35 years of experience in a conservative approach to orthopedic conditions through a functional approach to chiropractic care. He is certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners with additional training in orthopedics, sports medicine and functional rehabilitation.

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