Household stress comes from many sources. One contributor can be disorganization. Having a home in physical chaos not only causes confusion, it can also create a constant nagging sensation of unfinished business. Which, of course, stresses us out even more. A 1927 study by Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik showed that when work was interrupted before completion, the details were more readily recalled from memory. This ‘Zeigarnik Effect’, may possibly be due to the brain keeping all of that tasks related information ready, expecting the work to be completed. So if a daily walk through your home, office, or life churns stressful feelings of unfinished business and loss of control over life, then how chronic stress be avoided?
The effects of chronic stress not only wear on us emotionally, they can actually change our brain. Dr. Kerry Ressler, chief scientific officer at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School addressed these findings in his 2018 article https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress. In there he concludes that there is evidence that chronic stress can rewire your brain; building up the part which is designed to handle thoughts associated with removing threats, while reducing the size of the brain tasked with more complex thoughts and higher-order thinking. Ugh. Who wants that?!
Here are some steps which we can take today to relieve some of this stress:
- Grab a sheet of paper and look around the room you’re in. Write down something that needs closure. Perhaps it’s cleaning the windows, filing some papers away, cleaning up a bookshelf, whatever. The size of the task doesn’t matter, except it may be best to start small.
- Write down this one task on your sheet of paper. Now write down how long it should take to complete if you really focus all of your attention on getting it done.
- Write down what reward you’ll give yourself for completing the task.
- Decide if you can do it now or write down when you’re going to do it.
- Tell others of your intention. This may seem silly, but having the social expectation will help reinforce its completion. And who knows, maybe they’ll decide to help. But you might have to share the reward!
- If completing the task later, set a reminder on your phone, calendar, mirror, wherever necessary.
- When working the task, don’t let anything distract you from its completion. Put on some of your favorite music and use a favorite candle or essential oil to make the process more enjoyable
- When finished, write DONE in big letters on the tasks sheet of paper and hang it for all to see (especially you). Give yourself the reward you’ve earned. And let those you told about the task know that you’ve finished.
- Wasn’t that fun!
- Go back to step 1 and repeat….
This all may sound a bit extreme, but you are actually using an arsenal of tricks to rewire your neural pathways and cement a new habit into your life. Give it a shot, it may actually be fun.
I’m always interest in feedback. What other tips, tricks, and techniques do you use to make a task seem more enjoyable?
Find more steps for organizing your life at www.StepsForToday.com.
As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…