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This often occurs when the tasks that you are doing are very simple in nature, like getting rid of things that you know have little value, such as expired coupons and unsolicited junk mail. This is because after you've used the method numerous times, you won't need to think to yourself, What do I do now? or, What do I do next? Here's the thing about excuses (and believe me, over the last ten years I have heard every one of them from people of all ages, genders, nationalities, and cultural and/or socioeconomic backgrounds): Excuses sound like truth to us. They seem as real as the sun, ocean, and sky. But the real truth is more like oxygen. We need it to survive, but we don't see it. We have to learn about it and change our beliefs to accept what we don't see. To practice self-care, you have to find your truth. Why are you being so thoughtless to the only body you have? Why are you treating yourself so cruelly? Why don't you treat yourself with love? We can all come up with many reasons for resisting self-care. But what happens when you do not take care of yourself? The effects can be quite devastating. Just remember, I am a living witness to what can happen when you resist self-care. And I am also a living witness to what can happen when you embrace self-care. I'd like to address four excuses specifically that I find very prominent among people who do not practice self-care. Even if they are not saying these statements aloud, they are stuck in people's brains. I am too old.

I can't change. My family is just unhealthy. It's in the cards. I don't deserve to take care of myself. This way of challenging your negative thinking and replacing it with positive thoughts is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - an approach that can help you change the way you think and, therefore, the way you behave. CBT suggests that whichever way you interpret a situation you will respond accordingly. If you change the way you think, you will create a change in how you feel, what you do and how you behave. So, for example, rather than think My holiday plans are ruined', you might thinkMy plans are not ruined, I can change my plans.' Thinking in this way makes you feel more hopeful and better able to respond in a positive, helpful way. With CBT you identify, challenge and replace unhelpful, negative thoughts. This enables you to change your behaviour in future. Anything and everything, then, can be explained in a positive or negative way. The trick is to choose the most positive and plausible interpretation and to tell that to yourself. Doing this can then positively influence how you respond to situations. So, it's small steps, and no more than five. One or two steps might relate to the taxes, but no more. There are things beside taxes that need my attention, too, and if all five things are about taxes, it will start to look overwhelming again. I pick one step and focus on that for the moment, on what I need to do now. I forget about the other things I need to do in that project until I get that one done. It's kind of like the Buddhist thing of "living in the moment." One thing at a time. Break tasks into small steps.

Limit the to-do list to five things. Focus on one at a time. You never have more than that one thing that you need to do at any given moment. It's my job to clean up the dog poop in the yard. I perform this moderately unpleasant chore every week. (Everybody has to be good at something.) Actually, more recently I've started performing it about three times a week, and it really isn't that unpleasant anymore. It may take a little more time than before, but not much anyway. I haven't let things pile up. Staying on top of things means not letting them pile up to the point that the prospect of dealing with them seems overwhelming. This can apply to paying bills, or to keeping up with my patient notes, to homework or studying, or dog poop. So we're not letting things build up or hang over our heads. Who wants dog poop hanging over their head? Ugh! It can be helpful to think about the reasons why you are choosing to do things and check on the balance between avoiding pain and moving towards the most enriching things in life. It's a good decision to avoid pain some of the time, but it's wise to balance that with also spending some time moving gently towards your highest values. Soothe the pain with heat or cold. Find a comfortable position and change positions often. Even small adjustments can make a big difference in how your body feels. Try gentle stretches and self-massage of a tense area. Distract yourself (e.g., with a hobby, game, music or book).

Use relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, body scan, meditation). This can help to reset the nervous system and turn down the alarm. Rest (but not too much): short, frequent rest breaks are best. Control your breathing: take slow breaths, and imagine breathing in and out from the painful area. Visualize a safe and soothing scene (e.g., a beach, or getting a massage). Use coping thoughts (e.g., say to yourself "This will pass" and "I can do this"). Talk to someone supportive (e.g., friend, family member or therapist). As previously mentioned, many habitual procrastinators become overwhelmed by their tasks quite easily. In fact, many need only think of the tasks that await them, and they may feel panicky. That, in turn, can result in producing a feeling of panic within you, which may make you feel like giving up on pursuing your tasks. After all, one of the prime reasons why many of us have become habitual procrastinators is because when we feel that panic, we take that feeling as if it were a signal from our bodies telling us to stay away from the things that upset us. So, the last thing we want to do is to set off a false alarm in our faulty nervous systems. Remember too that every time you draw a line through a task, you're silently telling yourself, Yes! I did it! This will give you a sense of accomplishment each and every time you draw a line through a completed task. You might say that do-ing and then putting a line through the corresponding task is like killing two birds with one stone, because you've completed a task, which is fantastic, and you're rewarding yourself for a well-done endeavor. Don't deny yourself that reward: stop all activity for a moment, look at the task that you've just completed, draw that line, and feel good about what you've done. Method's simple formula for overcoming habitual procrastination. The strategies, rules and habits I describe contribute to making my life go better. They are ways of coping with problems, like the dog poop problem.

But they also eliminate some problems entirely so that I don't need to deal with them at all. Like losing the keys. A major tool for dealing with many ADD problems is to break every task into small steps. Then the task doesn't seem so overwhelming or difficult or unpleasant, and it's easier to get myself to start on it. If I don't fall behind and let things pile up then they don't seem so overwhelming either. But if I've let something pile up then small steps is the key to getting started on it. And again, if I can identify something as a problem, like the dog poop task being unpleasant, then I can come up with strategies to cope with it, and my life gets better. Yours can too. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people say they are too old to take care of themselves. They may have been athletic as teenagers but gave up on good eating and exercise as they got older. They placed their family first. They got wrapped up in their career. They don't really care how they look anymore because they are no longer trying to find a significant other. Quite simply, often men and women let themselves go in middle age, and then feel they are too old to make changes in their lifestyles. Here's the kicker: Growing older is a part of life. You've got to start looking beyond your life now and instead see where you will be in the future. We all hope to live long and healthy lives, which requires taking action. Nobody wants to end up in a nursing home, but here's the bitter truth. It is a myth that nursing homes and long-term care facilities are just for old people. I challenge you to go and visit a local nursing home near you.