I have found that avoidance often walks hand-in-hand with anxiety; whether it's constant, only in special situations, or anything in between. Avoidance is most commonly referred to as procrastination, but I like to use "procrastination" solely for talking about school, but that's my own preference. To me, avoidance is more than putting off a project or delaying getting chores done. It's this constant nagging thought of wanting to get away from something and distract yourself. It can often feel like you don't have control, whether you're productive or not. For example, when you really want to finish your online class, but you find something that makes you so much happier and distracts you from most likely becoming bored, even though you know that's not true. Or it's the tempting alternative of finding happiness within a song when your tears want to roll down your cheeks so that the sadness doesn't build up to an unhealthy amount inside. While it's great to explain how terrible avoidance can make one feel, my point of this article is to help others who feel like avoidance is holding them back, to regain a bit of control.
1. Aroma Therapy
The first tip I have is to use aromatherapy. Check the labels first before you buy anything so you know that you won't have an allergic reaction. I have found that by spraying and rolling different scents on my wrists or in the air, my brain is more focused on the task at hand. They can also be used to relax or to go to sleep if you have any trouble with that. When I took the AP test in May, the aromas that I used were very helpful in preventing the inevitable stress from consuming my every thought. Instead of trying to pretend that I didn't have to take a test that day, I faced it head-on.
This practice has been around for thousands of years, so it's been wonderfully perfected. There are also many scientific studies proving how this method works and why. If you want to know more about how aromatherapy (essential oil therapy) works, you can find that here.
2. Being Productive
Sometimes, I find that I just can't seem to be productive with the task that I should be getting done, but I have the inspiration to get something else done. Even though it's still avoiding, being successfully productive with one thing leads to a chain reaction of getting other things done. As long as you still get your main assignment done, how harmful can it really be to complete something else?
When I'm in a "slump," I often get inspired to clean/organize my room. By organizing and decorating, my room feels like a more productive space that I can actually breathe in. Once I've finished organizing, I can easily jump into the other task that I still need to get done. At that point, I've started to feel accomplished and boosted my confidence.
What if organization is what you've been avoiding? Well, instead of organizing as I do, you can do anything from painting, writing poetry, finishing easier homework assignments, or anything else you've wanted to finish. Try to limit how many tasks you get done to one or two, or limit the amount of time to an hour and a half, so that you don't justify your avoidance of the main project too much. Remember: the sooner you get the main project done, the sooner you can relax and move on to something else.
3. Make a Schedule
Crossing off different tasks and actually looking at what you need to do can be very satisfying, and limits the amount of avoiding that you can do. Once you've seen what you have to get done in a day or a week, it's much harder to pretend that it doesn't exist. Writing out your different tasks in different colors can also make you more excited to start your work. I own hundreds of pens, and I absolutely love writing down all of the tasks that I have to do, but even that can become more overwhelming than it is helpful.
Apps have proven to be quite helpful and compelling. They help to keep you focused by giving little rewards for how much time you stay on task, or sometimes they just help you plan out exactly what you need to do, and when you need to get it done. Here is an article with recommendations of apps that you can use: click here. There are also several apps to soothe you so the stress does not become overwhelming. There are apps for everyone, no matter what device you want them on, or whether you have an android or an iPhone.
I personally have used a planner app and a focusing app. The planner notified me when things were due, which I found especially helpful because I am not one to actually check my planner throughout the day. The focusing app was called Forest. For android-users, Forest is free, but for iPhone-users, it is not free. However, Flora has the same objective as Forest. In Forest and Flora, you choose apps that you know will distract you, and you allow the app to temporarily watch it to make sure you don't open them. While you work, the app "grows" your chosen plant for a period of time so you can focus. If you open your apps before the plant has "grown," it will "die," and you will have to start all over again if you want a plant to show for the time that you were not distracted by your phone. If you successfully finish and the timer goes off, your plant will be beautiful and fully grown. I found this method to be extremely rewarding; not only was I able to get stuff done, but I could also prove to myself in the future that I can use my time wisely.
5. Other Helpful Tips
While I'm not an expert on how to stop avoiding, I hope some of these tips help. However, it all depends on what works for you. If these don't work, you can try meditation, yoga, or other mindful tasks to help you focus and reduce your stress so that you can be productive. Sometimes, just a quick dance session or being creative can help get the energy out so you can focus on getting your task out of the way.
Good luck in your endeavors of ridding avoidance from your life!