Procrastination is the enemy of peace and mindfulness. Periodt.
Have you ever read an article or listen to a Podcast that spoke of mindfulness and thought to yourself, What!? How does this apply to me? You may be able to relate to the contents or the information that is being presented, but the resolutions do not feel realistic. I can honestly say that often as I am reading these article(s), I am overthinking the “simple” tips and tricks listed to help calm my mind. You may be able to relate?
Mindfulness is defined as the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of where we are now and what we are doing now, and NOT overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
By this definition, to be mindful, one must mentally separate from the world, the job, the children your relationship and even the current crisis that you have fortified in your mind (real or imagined). All while also using your mind to intentionally enjoy the air you breathe and this current moment. Seemed near impossible to me to shut off my thought process to focus on another thought. But again, I am an overthinker.
In my quest to become more mindful, I discovered a great problem. I have too much mental stuff (clutter). Most of which was related to incomplete task. PROCRASTINATION.
Procrastination is the delaying or putting off task or decisions.
Procrastination is a powerful barrier to mindfulness and self-care. Thoughts of things left undone, never engaged, placed on the back burner, ignored or replaced with rationales of why the task is not completed all compete for the space that you need to separate from if you want to achieve the goal of being present in the moment. It is an opportunistic infection. Simply put, as you compartmentalize one thought, the noise of the incomplete task becomes louder and takes up more space.
I have recently discovered for myself, as an overthinker, elimination of unnecessary thoughts is my pathway to mindfulness. I am not talking about just killing a thought. I can’t disconnect completely from life and who I am, but I can be intentional about what I allow to occupy my mental space. How did I arrive here? I evaluated what was taking up mental space and to my surprise, most of it was one long list of to do’s that I mentally stored but never acted on.
I begin to deal with the list one item at a time. Some were as simple as making a phone call that I dreaded or apologizing to someone that I know I wronged (I had rationalized the procrastination that so were they). Other things will take time like researching doctoral programs to complete my terminal degree. Completing list will take time and energy but I discovered that even with the small task checked off, mindfulness has become easier. I still must work at completing the task list but the progression toward mindfulness is more evident. I also discovered that in eliminating the procrastination, I feel more accomplished, I sleep better, and I am more emotionally in control.
So, if you have a tendency toward overthinking or if you just want to be better at the practice of mindfulness, I would suggest that you remove the barrier of procrastination and be intentional about finishing what you start. It will give you a head start on removing unnecessary thoughts from your mental space so that you can be in the moment. There may be some hard work in the beginning, but you will thank you for it in the end. Much Peace
Lena Jackson MPH, MS, RN