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Suppose for a moment that we changed tasks because our second task was indeed more important than the original task we were working on. All we'd need to do then would be to act on the second task until its completion, and then return to our original task. However, that's not how habitual procrastinators act. Instead, after putting aside our original task and then commencing work on our second task, we would then doubt ourselves again with something along the lines of, "How can I work on this when I've got other things that need my attention?" Then, we would repeat that same behavior. It's through this behavioral cycle whereby nothing is accomplished. The solution to this is learning how to prioritize by becoming comfortable with your decisions, and then focusing your attention on just one task until its completion. This will be discussed in detail in Section Two. Another way habitual procrastinators distract themselves is by worrying that were they to find the courage to tackle a difficult task, that would then prove they had the ability to do it all along, which would then instantly obligate them to "do" everything that they had been putting off. It's through this way of thinking that a habitual procrastinator will put himself on trial and then act as his own judge, jury, and prosecutor. If you identify with this aspect of procrastination, remember that all anyone can do is one thing at a time. Even if other people pride themselves on being multi-taskers, while they may have the ability to juggle several tasks for a short while, they can only work on one of them at any one time. Try not to concern yourself with the worry that one day you'll suddenly be cured of procrastination, and then be obligated to work non-stop to clear up many years' worth of unpleasant tasks. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are also milder forms of postpartum depression such as the "baby blues," which occurs in 80 percent of all pregnancies and usually goes away on its own after a week or two. While women who experience baby blues may be at risk of developing more severe postpartum depression in future pregnancies, the symptoms are usually not that severe in themselves so long as they don't last longer than a couple of weeks. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women be screened for symptoms of depression during pregnancy and in the months following birth, this often doesn't happen unless the women themselves report problems. Though universal screening for depression is happening in some places, including parts of Canada, many other jurisdictions have been slow to follow suit. As we come to understand more about prenatal and postpartum depression, better treatment options are becoming available. But not all women suffering from symptoms of depression linked to pregnancy are willing to admit what they are feeling and are delaying treatment as a result. If you are dealing with prenatal/postpartum depression, or if someone close to you is, don't hesitate to discuss these symptoms with a health care professional as soon as possible.

According to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, nearly half of adults in the country believe that, in their lifetime, they have had a diagnosable mental health problem, yet only a third have received a diagnosis; and every week, one in six adults experiences symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression. Don't be afraid to ask friends, family members or colleagues the question But how are you really doing?' And don't accept a one-word answer. <a href=''>On</a> (you'll find it under the US Department of Health and Human Services), there is a lot of advice if you need to start a conversation with a friend or family member about mental health. <a href=''>It</a> suggests ways to bring the subject up, such asI've been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to? It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?' Or I am someone who cares and wants to listen. <a href=''>What</a> do you want me to know about how you are feeling?' The UK gets top ranking in reducing the stigma associated with and increasing awareness of mental illness, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Mental Integration Index. <a href=''>There</a> is still a long way to go in all countries, but the recent campaign launched by the royal family to recruit celebrities and other individuals to make videos discussing depression or anxiety is a step in the right direction. <a href=''>Read</a> more on pp. <a href=''>142-3.</a> <a href=''>Researchers</a> from Yahoo! <a href=''>Labs</a> have developed an algorithm that calculates the most pleasant and enjoyable route from your location to your destination. <a href=''>As</a> an example, the fastest route from the home of Paul Revere to the state capital in Boston will take you through car-lined streets. <a href=''>Adding</a> just two minutes of travel time, you can instead walk through quieter areas and enjoy famous city landmarks. <a href=''>The</a> TV show Lazy Town uses an athletic protagonist who lives on a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables to encourage children to take part in physical activities outdoors and to eat healthily. <a href=''>The</a> hero is contrasted with the show's lazy, junk-food-eating villain and antagonist. <a href=''>In</a> cooperation with a major supermarket chain in Iceland, fruit and vegetables were branded assports candy' (as in the TV show), and this resulted in a 22 per cent increase in sales of fruit and vegetables. When you have your act together, you're setting the example.

You're raising the bar. You're giving others something to admire and look up to. You're a symbol of strength, doing what others wish they could, and controlling yourself in a way they can't. They admire your discipline, strength, focus, and motivation. You're causing them to look at themselves and realize you're doing something beyond what they are. Body builders, CEO's, athletes, and everyone doing something great in life have thousands, and even millions, of social media followers, but how many of those followers are actually operating on their level or using them as an example and blueprint to get there? Not many. They're followers because they like them and look up to them. They possesses behavioral traits and characteristics that make them more likable and that we wish we possessed. Your personality and social skills reflect how much you have your act together. It's automatically and unconsciously detectable. It's hard to be likable when you're physically, mentally, emotionally, habitually, and socially sloppy. It's hard to be likable when your life is a wreck and you're not focused, making an effort, and taking action to improve it. It doesn't make you someone others, naturally, gravitate to. When you open your mouth and start speaking, it's immediately noticeable something is "off" and you have some work to do on your mind. Everyone likes you better when your personality, behavior, and habits communicate you're working every day to improve yourself and become better than you were yesterday. That you're straightforward, focused, driven, and a no nonsense person. That you're not someone just consuming, taking up space, and floating aimlessly like a kite. Your life and habits communicate more about you than your words do. Chronic stress, and the chronic inflammation it produces, also release the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which gears up the stress response, and dynorphin, an opioid peptide (protein) in our bodies that shuts down the dopamine system and leaves us feeling awful, and thus prone to seeking relief from drugs.

Drug abuse and dependence produce an increased reactivity to stress, which puts the user at high risk to relapse in order to abate feelings of heightened and persistent dysphoria. In the third stage of addiction, stress reactivity is high; drugs are principally employed for relief, not pleasure. (That is, unless you like Freud's definition of pleasure, which was the relief of pain.) Research into the brain's reward and stress systems--on how drug abuse attenuates the release of dopamine and makes life absent of feeling or deeply unpleasant from stress--is basic science meant to gain knowledge and direction for the field of substance and behavioral addictions. However, because of the brain's immense complexity, cognitive neuroscience research may prove more immediately useful. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and mindfulness techniques are showing considerable success in the lab and in translational and services research. Both these techniques can strengthen cortical executive functions and quiet the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. CBT has already proven useful in relapse prevention because it can blunt a person's reverberations to cues, to reduce conditioned responses such as those produced by contact with friends who are using, social events where alcohol and drugs are readily accessible, and the insistent media fascination with drugs. Program research has been active for many years on the use of medication-assisted treatment. Work has been especially prominent for nicotine and alcohol addictions, two of the principal causes of preventable morbidity and mortality in the United States and many other countries. Research into the use of opioid replacement medications (such as methadone and, more recently, buprenorphine, known as opioid agonists and discussed earlier) has shown that long-term gains can be achieved in opioid-dependent individuals. The work of my former colleague Dr. Roger Weiss, at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, exemplifies these efforts. A three-and-a-half-year follow-up study of opioid-dependent individuals, the longest to date, demonstrated "marked improvements" in their use of illicit opioids and other substances when they were treated with opioid replacement agents. About 50 percent of study participants abstained from illicit opioid use in the months prior to the eighteen-month follow-up, and the rate increased to 60 percent by the end of the study. Participants also reported general improvements in their health and subjective pain. Many procrastinators are capable of tremendous activity when special circumstances are involved. "I'll just die if Mom and Dad see my place like this. I only have two days to whip this place into shape," says Judith. True to her word, two days later her apartment is not only shipshape, but it can also withstand her mother's infamous white-glove test. Judith's parents leave a few days later, and ever so slowly, the neatness she created begins to unravel.

"That which I can create, I too can destroy," Judith half-jokingly says to herself. Oddly enough, while she doesn't really want the neatness of her place to come apart, "it just does." Judith doesn't see herself as a procrastinator, but as someone who "gets back at her responsibilities." Instead of seeing housecleaning as something that can be done periodically, the only way she knows how to go about it is by launching all-out assaults. Judith expends a great deal of energy over a very short timeframe, so much so that she not only exhausts herself, but she also builds up resentments against housecleaning, or whatever other task she deals with in this sort of manner. She puts an end to any future housecleaning unless, once again, special circumstances dictate that it must be done. What Judith fails to see is that it's far easier to do a little cleaning every now and then, than it is to accomplish several years' worth of cleaning in the space of only a few days. Although it's admirable that she's able to work straight through until her apartment is clean enough, her life would probably be easier if she knew how to "do" in smaller chunks. In addition, while she worries about her mother's "white glove test," she doesn't have the courage to tell her mother that her apartment needs only to be clean enough for Judith alone. If you find that you deal with tasks in the same fashion as Judith, you may wish to endeavor on learning how to become satisfied in doing small amounts of work over a longer period of time. While many people experience the "blues" during the autumn and winter months, the different ways that our bodies change from one season to the next can be profound. Even though you might not be aware of it, your mood and behavior often change depending on where you are living as well as the amount of sunlight you take in on a daily basis. For example, many people living in northern countries often report feeling much more depressed and apathetic during winter months, something that is much less common in people living in more southern climates. Back in the 1980s, medical researcher Norman E. Rosenthal and his colleagues at the NIMH first identified a condition he referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In his 1993 book, Seasons of the Mind, Dr. Rosenthal suggested that the seasonal changes in depression experienced by him and many others were likely linked to not getting enough sunlight in winter months. Symptoms of SAD are very similar to those of other mood disorders: sadness, lethargy, appetite and sleep changes, and a difficulty waking up in the morning. Women and children are far more likely to experience these symptoms and, as expected, they are much more common in northern latitudes than in places closer to the equator. People with SAD also report sleeping more hours during winter months than they do during the summer (as much as two or three hours longer in many cases). Also, for reasons that are still unclear, SAD symptoms are most apparent around the age of twenty- seven and decrease over time as people grow older. Though not formally listed in the DSM as a distinct mood disorder, people are considered to be suffering from SAD if their depression has a clear seasonal pattern (more severe at some times of the year than others) and last for two years or more.