Do you procrastinate? If you feel stressed around all you have to do or are someone who tends to put things off, I’ve got a mentor tip for you. It’s to create what I call an “ick list,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
listen to the pep talk here:
I created this technique when I had a lot of adulting to do that I kept putting off. The ick list is for the tasks that aren’t fun, pile up, and stress you out over time. I see this kind of stress show up for college students or anyone going back to school. You kind of just want to veg and enjoy the rest of your summer, but you also have a lot to do to get ready for the new school year.
Whenever there’s a transition involved, I always feel like it takes a little more energy to do your regular stuff. I believe this for two reasons: one because you burn extra energy in transition. For example, if you’re a freshman going into college you may feel like you’re using a lot of energy in the anticipation of what’s next. There is a lot of mental energy that goes into anything that involves planning or change.
Secondly, I think that sometimes procrastination can be a nervous system defense mechanism. It can be related to fear and it’s a pattern that we can shift.
This is where the “ick list” comes in. I get out of piece of paper and I write out, not type out, all the things I have to do that are bringing me stress and anything I’ve been procrastinating on. I basically write down all the tasks that are making me feel icky. After I’ve written everything out, I take a look at the list and I pick out the three things that are bringing me the most stress. When that’s complete you pick one of the three things and just get it done.
There’s a little bit of mentor self-discovery here too. For myself, I learned that what causes me stress is how long something has been on my list not how big the task is. The longer I put it off, the more stress it brings me.
Also, when you start something, you build momentum around it. Once you figure out what task you’re going to get done first it helps build flow for the others. There’s also alchemy in taking something out of your head and putting it on paper. It can kind of neutralize to some of the feelings around all the things you have to do floating in your head. And that is how the ick list works!
Ever try to relax and then tell yourself all the things you should be doing instead? I should be studying. I should be doing my laundry. I should be out with friends. This definitely ruins relaxing and I’ve seen it spike during the pandemic when we don’t have clear boundaries between all of our activities. Today’s pep talk, I share a quick tip for get out of the “shoulds” when it comes to downtime.
stack stress support
productivity pep talk
ritualizing your routine
Stack stress is a term I’ve made up to describe what happens when you have a lot going on at once, put caring yourself allll the way at the bottom of your list, then one tiiiiny thing tips everything over. Sound familiar? I bet it does for many! If you’ve ever cried over feeling overwhelmed this is the episode for you. In today’s pep talk, I share 3 things you can do when you feel the pressure of stack stress.
an easy exercise for shifting stress
all the stress
dr. habib sadeghi’s purge emotional writing
Over the summer, I started having sleep issues. I’d fall asleep fine, but wake up in the middle of the night worried. Forget about being able to go back to bed. I knew I needed to do some waking hours work to process feelings and that’s how I found Dr. Sedeghi’s technique in his book The Clarity Cleanse.
Even though there’s Thanksgiving break coming up, it’s still stress season with finals and end of the year projects looming on top of an already wacky year. This practice, called purge emotional writing, helps you move out of worry and overwhelm and into calm and clarity. Bonus: it only takes 12 minutes.
- Grab a pen and paper
- Set a timer for 12 minutes
- Write anything and everything. Dr. Sedeghi says to write about anything that’s “disturbing your peace.” I just write whatever’s in my head.
- After 12 minutes, stop writing, and do not go back and read what you wrote.
- Burn the paper in a safe outdoor space like a driveway or patio. If you’re a college student or live in an apartment, do not burn your paper! Rip up your writing into a teeny, tiny pieces and throw it away outside not in the house.
A huge part of this exercise is that you do not go back and read what you wrote. You are not trying to ruminate or get into a loop thought. It’s about getting stress out.
Some extra major mentor tips!
- Do this exercise at the same time everyday. I do it right when I wake up. If you wanted to use it before you go to bed that would be good too.
- A timer tip: I play meditation music, ambient sounds, or piano music when I write and set my timer to “stop playing” to signal the end. After 12 minutes instead of a jarring ring or beep, the music just stops playing to let me know it’s time to move on.
- After 12 minutes stop writing. You’ve done it. You’ve completed what you need to complete; then immediately burn or throw out the paper. I LOVE this part. I can say whatever I want and burning it really lets it go for me. It truly gives me freedom to say whatever it is that I need to say.
- **extra credit** I think it would be a really great idea to do a meditation after the writing exercise like this grounding practice or an acceptance meditation.
This ritual is PERFECT during finals or if you’re swamped at work. You just kind of spew out all the things you have to get done. Anything weighing heavy on your heart you just let out on the paper. I’ve been doing it every morning and can attest to it’s magic.
self-care tips for students and recent grads
When you first go away to college, and also this happens in your early 20’s, sometimes you’re painted a picture that these years are going to be the best time of your lives, but, like most situations that involve a lot of growth, it honestly has a lot of ups and downs. One minute you absolutely love it and the next minute you can’t believe you’re squeezed into a shoebox-sized room with a stranger you don’t know as a roommate.
A few years ago, I mentored several girls at different schools who were pre-med at the time. They were totally stressed out by the workload. I thought it was synchronistic to see students dealing with the same issue at once. It made me pay more attention. I remember I was always asking them what they had been doing to have a little fun and the answer was always nothing. When we’re really busy, stressed, or anxious the idea of indulging in something fun can seem unproductive and undeserved, but usually it’s exactly what you need. When I feel my world getting really heavy, I ask myself:
What sounds fun?
I don’t ask it in a sarcastic way where I’m like a vacation sounds fun or a million dollars. I’m really asking, what can I do to take care of myself in this moment? What would be something that could add levity to what I have going on? The goal is to try to get to your know your inner needs!
Almost always when I ask myself that question, it’s usually something really small that I can do to add some relaxation, levity, or joy to whatever it is I’m spinning through at the time. Some of the things that come up for me when I ask myself what sounds fun is to:
- go for a walk
- call a friend
- move my body
- grab a coffee
It’s never something that’s over complicated or too crazy, but here’s where the mentoring comes in: you have to ask yourself the question then ACTUALLY go do the thing. It’s easy to get stuck in whatever’s going on and don’t do the thing that will make us feel better. If what sounds fun is a mentoring session (and trust me they are fun!!), you have to put in the time to actually schedule and go to a session. If what sounds fun is stretching your body then you need to actually get on your yoga mat. You deserve to treat yourself well. You deserve to have fun. We’re here on this planet to be of service and purposeful and you can’t do that if you’re not allowing yourself the joy of being alive. Even if you’re going through a time, you are totally worthy and deserving of moments of joy throughout your day. Fun is a form of self-care. What sounds fun is a way to take care of your inner self. Secret bonus, joy makes tackle your to-do list or get through anything hard a lot easier.
College, Stress, and your Tipping Point. College stress can feel like a game of jenga: one false move and you’re crying in public. Full video here on how to handle stress while at college!
When I went away to college it was the most freedom that I had experienced up to that point. As exciting and new as that was, it was also overwhelming. Students today are more stressed than ever and it’s totally scary to go to college not knowing how to take care of yourself.
Check out today’s video on what it means to take care of yourself.
✨Tried to write a blog, but came out easier as a video! What I’ve been working on lately with my students (and myself): The Subtle Ways to be Sweetly Seen✨