I have been meaning to write about procrastination for some time now, but haven’t got around to it. So, for those of you that don’t know what procrastination means… Postpone, delay, put off, hesitate, dawdle, protract, dilly-dally, haver, tarry, avoid, duck, elude, dodge, sidestep, evade, shirk, dither, shilly-shally.

OK, enough now. I think you get the message. I was never the sort of child who would do their homework at the start of the holidays. I would inevitably do it just before I was due to go back to school. We are probably all familiar with the creeping sense of dread as a deadline approaches. If we delay long enough, perhaps this will be replaced by a rising panic as we realise just how little time there is left. The prospect of embarrassment or failing finally gets us to start focusing and working on the task at hand. And, ultimately, that’s OK. There are no prizes for doing it early as long as it gets done, right?

Well, this applies to many tasks. But what did you do with the time you procrastinated? If it was something useful or productive then you could argue it’s not procrastination merely prioritisation. Or did you use the time to create a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) bee photo and post it on social media? As Christopher Parker (British Actor) said, “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill”.

This is bad enough, but what about tasks that don’t have a deadline? Things you should do or would like to do, but no one will pick you up on it if you don’t do it. Perhaps learning a skill that will help you change careers or taking up a new hobby. Mark Twain once said, “We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do”.

Now procrastination is not laziness. Procrastination is an active decision in that you choose to do something else instead of the task you should be doing. Laziness, in contrast, implies apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. It normally involves delaying an unpleasant task in favour of one that is more enjoyable or easier.

Giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences for you. Minor cases of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed, effecting our self-esteem. Longer periods can over time lead to demotivation and disillusionment with our work, which can cause burnout, depression and even job loss, in severe cases.

Procrastination is a trap we can all fall into. In fact, according to researcher and speaker Piers Steel (Professor at the Haskayne School of Business), 95% of us procrastinate to some degree. While it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone, it can be sobering to realise just how much it can hold you back.

Now when I get a chance I intend to write a follow up blog post about how to overcome procrastination. But then I did get so many likes for that bee photo, perhaps I will try to surpass that first.

If you procrastinate or struggle to focus on key tasks then Hypnotherapy can help. Hypnotherapy can help with exploring the root cause of a problem, breaking habits, will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.


Blue Monday

The third Monday of January has been designated the saddest day of the year. Known as Blue Monday, in the northern hemisphere at least, this is due to the combination of failed New Year resolutions, Christmas bills falling due, cold weather, gloomy days, long nights and being a long time until the next public holiday. As Doutzen Kroes (Dutch model and actress) said, “I am definitely a summer person. Don’t get me wrong: I love winter when it’s beautiful and sunny – I don’t really care about cold – I just hate the grey”.

Now you might think this is nonsense, but there is some science behind it. Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall derived a formula using various factors to determine this. As an aside, the same formula predicts that the happiest day of the year is usually in late June at the height of summer. Makes sense, I suppose.

Now this is a bit of fun and is not intended to trivialise depression. We all need to be mindful of our mental and physical health and take steps to preserve and improve them. One very real issue with winter is the likelihood of feeling low and out of sorts. In a recent UK survey about winter 77% of people reported that they had lower energy levels and 71% reported a poorer mood. You may have experienced this yourself – the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of seasonal depression with the following symptoms:
• Persistent low mood
• Loss of interest in normal activities
• Irritability
• Feelings of despair and worthlessness
• Lacking energy and feeling sleepy
• Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
• Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
• Lowered immune system

The causes of SAD are not fully understood, but it’s thought to be caused by reduced exposure to sunlight. It is thought that the lack of sunlight stops the brain from producing the right amount of several key substances. These are:
• Melatonin. A hormone that makes you feel sleepy. SAD sufferers produce more than normal levels.
• Serotonin. A hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep. Reduced levels are linked to feelings of depression.
• Vitamin D. This vital vitamin boosts the immune system and ensure healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

So, be mindful of your mental health and mood. Always take the opportunity to get a little sun on your face even if it is winter sun. Consider taking vitamin D supplements.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low mood, depression, anxiety or stress then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for more information.