Embrace Your Dread: A Happiness Tip

dreadDread means to anticipate with apprehension or fear. When we are tasked with doing something essential yet undesirable, it can cause a feeling of dread. Frequently, we will procrastinate these tasks. Leaving them undone usually increases the dread we feel.

Tasks that we dread don’t have to be particularly horrible. It could be as simple as cleaning the cat box or cooking dinner. Of course, they could be larger and more significant like ending a bad relationship or firing an employee.

Everyone is different. What one person dreads could be a non-issue for someone else, so it’s important that you refrain from judging yourself or others.

How to Embrace Your Dread

1. Figure out what is bothering you.

Sometimes, this is very easy because the thing that you’re dreading is very obvious. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s very difficult to decide exactly what is causing your dread. In the adult world, there are so many potentially undesirable things that must be done that it’s easy to be confused about what exactly is your #1.

To help sort your thoughts, ask yourself this question. If I didn’t ever have to do this one thing, how would I feel? If your answer is that you’d feel relieved, you have probably found your answer.

2. Schedule a time.

If your dreaded activity is not already scheduled for you, schedule it. Sometimes just having a firm commitment that you will do this thing on this day will help to relieve some of your anxiety about the situation.

If you get to schedule the activity yourself, schedule it for today or tomorrow. When you have anxiety about something, the sooner you address it, the sooner it will leave you.

However, let’s say you’re dreading something that has already been scheduled for you, something a month from today. From now until then, practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing and meditation to help you relax. Try to do as much work toward completion of your dreaded activity as you can.

If you find that you’re not able to sleep at night because of your feelings, deep breathing and meditation can help. You can also try this sleeping tip from my son.

3. Get your tools ready.

What do you need to help you successfully complete this task? Have things you may need nearby so that if you get to a tricky spot, you’ve got tools to help. This will help you follow through, and it will be less likely for you to quit.

4. Start.

No matter what activity you’re dreading, it won’t go away until you’ve done it. So, in this way, simply starting to do it is a huge success. You should feel a sense of great accomplishment by beginning the activity that you dread.

5. Keep going.

Sure, this might seem like a silly step to include. You’ve started your dreaded project, so you might as well finish it, right? Well, if you’re like me, it doesn’t always go that way. I can start a project, have it half finished, and come up with a reason for why I should bail entirely and stop what I’m doing immediately.

The trick is that you keep going. When that voice in your head speaks up about all of the much better things you could be doing right now, it’s important to silence that voice and remind yourself that you are committed to this task. All of those fun things are still going to be around when you get done, so just take a deep breath and proceed.

Remind yourself that you will feel so much better when this thing you dread is finished. Keep positive thoughts and inspiring quotes in your head. Listen to music (if appropriate) while you do this important activity.

6. Finish.

Again, this may seem silly. However, if you are skilled enough to stop at a random point in the beginning of your project, you are skilled enough to stop at a point toward the end. Let me assure you, I have done this, too.

Just ask my husband about when I managed to put primer on our porch spindles in the time that it took him to prime and paint our entire house. By hand. Suffice to say, I’m really good at picking a random stopping point and throwing in the brush.

So, keep pushing yourself to actually finish. And, when you do finish, allow yourself all of the feelings of pride and accomplishment that come along with completion. Plus, you had the added challenge of doing something that you didn’t really want to do.

No matter what you were dreading, you have taken that challenge, looked into its eyes, and defeated it.

7. Analyze.

Now, that you’re done, you probably realize that it wasn’t so bad after all. You also may realize that there may come a time in the future when you will need to do this task again. Since you already have this success under your belt, this challenge will be easier to conquer next time.

Whenever a sense of dread arises, don’t be afraid to follow these steps and face your challenge head-on!

How do you confront your dread? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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