Understanding Why We Procrastinate is the First Step Toward Overcoming it
Dawn Zier, CEO of Nutrisystem
(Fort Washington, PA, Wednesday, September 7, 2016) – It turns out procrastinating isn’t really our fault — scientists have found the urge to avoid unpleasant tasks is actually hard-wired into our brains. The good news is that understanding why we procrastinate is the first step toward overcoming it.
Here’s the science: The urge to procrastinate originates in the most dominant, and most primitive, part of our brain, the limbic system. This system — which is automatic — also attempts to regulate our moods, so when we feel stress, it looks for ways to distract us.
In the case of weight loss, procrastinating goes something like this: We think, “I would really feel better if I lost a few pounds.” The thought brings expectations of suffering and loss of freedom. This, in turn, can lead to painful emotions such as anxiety, depression and fear of failure.
Thankfully, the situation is far from hopeless. We can overcome this “procrastination trap” to weight loss, we just have to learn to trick our brains with a few simple strategies:
Strategy #1: Don’t focus on the entire weight loss journey, which can seem overwhelming. Instead, break the task down into concrete steps.
Strategy #2: Beware the procrastinator’s mantra, “I will do it tomorrow.” It’s stress relieving to tell ourselves that today just isn’t the right day to get started. The problem is the right day never comes.
Strategy #3: This third strategy to combat the initial stressful thought that dieting will be difficult is to just get started. Studies have found once someone actually takes the first step toward a goal, the perception of the task’s difficulty plummets.