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Stress Management: Procrastination vs. Action Now for Joy and Stress Reduction

Ilenya Marrin

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Stress management can include some tricky challenges.

Sometimes you have to look in the hidden corners of your life to discover and clear out sneaky, unexpected stressors!

Procrastination: Living in Your Laters

One of the sneakier sources of stress is procrastination - what I sometimes call “living in your laters. "

Here's how it works.

Let's say you have a task to do. Perhaps you're not quite sure how to do the task, or you don't have enough time right now, or you just don't want to tackle it yet. Maybe you start a task but don't finish it, and it is just sitting there indefinitely, half done. You tell yourself, “Later. "

Or you have a decision to make, but you aren't clear on what would be the best choice, or you aren't ready to handle the consequences of your decision.

For instance, you're trying to decide whether to get a divorce. Emotionally, you want out. But you realize that if you decide to go for it, many factors in your life will change and you're not sure if you are financially or emotionally equipped to handle those right now. You tell yourself, " I can't think about this now. I'll think about it later. "

Unfinished Business

Either way, you end up carrying around some unfinished business.

How stressful is that? Do an experiment for yourself. Pick up a single sheet of paper and hold it with your arm outstretched at shoulder height for one minute. That's not too difficult for most of you.

Now imagine that your instructions are to continue holding that piece of paper indefinitely.

Hmmmm. After just a few minutes, your arm is tired. After an hour, you might be shaky and feeling sick, or anxious or angry. “How did I get myself into this mess anyway?"

If forced to continue holding that single piece of paper for a few days, you could become seriously ill. That's stress at work on the physical level.

Stress Burden of Laters

Each piece of unfinished business that you carry in your consciousness is a weight on your psyche, pulling on your energy. One delayed task seems like nothing - for a little while. But the more unfinished business, the more “laters" you try to carry, the heavier your stress burden.

Emotionally charged laters are much heavier than simple logical laters. You'll experience a lot more stress burden from “Should I get a divorce?" than from “Should I buy a Honda or a Toyota?" If you put off decisions and positive action, “Should I be stricter about homework?" can become heavier with every poor report card your kid brings home.

After a while, your laters can come crashing down on your head. Your spouse is having an affair. Your kid fails fifth grade. Your stress level seems overwhelming, all because you put off making decisions and taking action.

What's the Solution?

Make a habit of taking action and making decisions now. Each now moment is an action opportunity.

Mental Jump Start

If you want a mental jump start, tell yourself, “Do it now. " Make this simple statement your affirmation and repeat it at least 100 times a day for the next month to reinforce your new intention.

As you handle the routine tasks like paying bills and clearing clutter as they come up, you won't be adding to your stress burden. If you make the daily decisions in a timely way, based on the best information that you have, you will free up your mind and your energy to relax and enjoy your life, your family, your friends.

Do It Now

Each time you do it now, you pick up and put down one piece of paper. That's a task or decision you handle and quickly release. There is no ongoing stress. You'll find joy and confidence bubbling up inside as your practice your new habit.

You'll be creating inner freedom and reducing stress with each task that you complete and each small decision that you handle now. Routinely deciding and promptly acting is a way of loving yourself into a less stressful lifestyle.

Then, when bigger projects and decisions demand your attention, you will have the do-it-now strength you need. You'll have a valuable tool for handling stressful tasks and dilemmas. You'll have reduced your level of ongoing daily stress. When major stressors loom, you'll have a leg up on your personal program for stress management.

For more stress management tips to help you live with greater inner peace, I invite you to sign up for my free Simple Stress Solutions newsletter, at If you're really ready to create a less stressful lifestyle, check out my e-book, The Power of Personal Peace: Reducing Stress by Loving Yourself from the Inside Out, at


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