Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates

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For Overcoming Procrastination

A Havening Meditation for Connecting to Your Inner Motivation

In this guided meditation, Dr. Kate Truitt helps us connect with our inner motivation to create actionable change. After welcoming in the havening touch and soothing breath, Dr. Kate asks us to look back and find a time where we experienced purpose and motivation. It doesn’t have to be anything large; it could be as simple as acquiring a favorite food.

Once we have established that moment, Dr Kate invites us to bring it front and center and to recognize this energy. Is there a feeling, a color, or any identifiable feature this energy has? She then leads us to lean into this energy and have it sink into our being. This energy has always been within us, and Dr Kate reminds us that we can build a great, enriching relationship with it.

Steps for Navigating Procrastination w/ Neuroplasticity with Dr. Kate Truitt

Do you ever feel shut down in the face of your overwhelming to-do list? Do you ever feel stuck or even paralyzed in your ability to move into action?  If yes, guess what? You’re human. We all struggle with procrastination at some point in our lives. In times of deep stress and/or when we’re navigating burnout moving into action can be even more difficult.

In this short video Dr. Kate will introduce you to an easy brain hack for reducing stress and enhancing agency in order to get things done. Come learn how to take control of your brain through the power of neuroplasticity. A healthy brain is mandatory for living your most successful life.

Managing Burnout Video Series with Dr. Kate Truitt

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Let’s talk Burnout. Join Dr. Kate Truitt in unpacking what Burnout (and is not!), assessing your Burn Out status, and beginning to take actionable steps to build your proactive Burnout protection as well as healing program.

Burnout is an occupational phenomenon defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” is marked by exhaustion or energy depletion; heightened mental distance or negative or cynical feelings related to a job, and “reduced professional efficacy,” according to the World Health Organization.

These are unprecedented times and as pressure in our external environment rise our internal environment is going to change too. Stress, worry, uncertainty, and fear about the world we live in does not stop at the threshold to our homes—it infiltrates. The good news is that when we know what yellow, or even red, flags to look for AND we know how to harness the power of neuroplasticity to create functional change, we can (and will!) set ourselves up for success!  Just because the world feels out of control doesn’t mean we have to too.

Navigating Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

This holiday season many of us will be experiencing the holidays having lost someone we love.  Grief during the holidays often feels more piercing due to the cascade of traditions and memories that come with the holidays. In this video Dr. Kate shares about the experiences of grief, love, and loss and provides healing tools for navigating the holidays with a deep honoring for both loss and life. Dr. Kate Truitt is no stranger to the nature of grief and loss. Dr. Kate’s partner of 10 years unexpectedly died one week before their wedding in 2009. Listen in as she shares fundamental tips that helped her navigate the first Holiday season without her partner and best friend of 10 years.

Finding the Inner Motivation to Overcome Procrastination

By Dr. Kate Truitt

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

—Mark Twain

Many people in these times are experiencing fatigue and burnout—brain fog, executive functioning impairment, and decreased memory capacity rides shotgun into all of those experiences. We see a task in front of us and think, “Yuck! Anything but that!” So, we find something we “would rather be doing” instead.

We’re supposed to be functioning in our daily lives, and many times we’re not because we invite procrastination to get in our way. In those moments when we find ourselves feeling less than motivated we need to help our system up-regulate into an experience of success so we can continue to perform at our best, despite the ongoing challenges around us.

The Role of Dopamine and Prediction Bias

I have some hacks for this, but first it is helpful to know a little bit about dopamine—the molecule that motivates us and helps us keep moving forward. That description of dopamine oversimplified to say the least, so I will provide one that is not, from the book “The Molecule of More” by Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D. and Michael E. Long, which I highly recommend:

“It [dopamine] makes you desire what you don’t yet have and drives you to seek new things. It rewards you when you obey it, and makes you suffer when you don’t. It is the source of creativity and, further along the spectrum, madness; it is the key to addiction and path to recovery; it is the bit of biology that makes an ambitious executive sacrifice everything in pursuit of success, that makes successful actors and entrepreneurs and artists keep working long after they have all the money and fame they ever dreamed of; and that makes a satisfied husband or wife risk everything for the thrill of someone else. It is the source of the undeniable itch that drives scientists to find explanations and philosophers to find order, reason, and meaning.”

Whew! That’s a lot to unpack for one little molecule, so let’s just look at how it works. Dopamine does all of those things above through an experience called “prediction bias.” Simply put, when we do something that we predict will have a particular outcome and we achieve that outcome, our brain releases dopamine to reward us.

Let’s say you have been writing a book and have committed yourself to writing two pages every day. Every day when you complete those two pages, your brain rewards you with dopamine for meeting your goal.

There are two sides to prediction bias, as the authors emphasized in the quote above.  For example, if you decide you are going to get over our dread and open the laptop to tackle your emails and start going through them, you get dopamine. Likewise, if you open the laptop and are still overwhelmed by the number of messages, you might say “oh, I am going to go over to Instagram for a while to see what’s going on,” then end up there for an hour or two. Again, you get a shot of dopamine. Your brain will reward you for that behavior as well.

If you decide to tackle the all-day job of cleaning out the garage that you’ve been dreading for months, your brain rewards you with dopamine; if you decide instead that you are going to sit on the sofa all day binge-watching Netflix your brain will still give you dopamine. It is rewarding you for procrastinating.

“Productive Procrastination” Gets in the Way

Above I used cleaning out the garage as a positive, productive example of how we are rewarded through prediction bias, but finally cleaning out that garage might itself be procrastination, depending on what else is out there on your to-do list that it is keeping you from. If your boss is waiting for you to finish the end-of-month sales report this afternoon, and you choose to head for the garage instead, you might be engaging in “productive procrastination,” something many of us are familiar with, especially when we are working from home.

I am definitely guilty of being the person who is going to do three loads of laundry, walk the dog, do the dishes and then wipe down all the counters, because once all of those things are done, I have the felt sense that I am going to be “more productive.” That is the definition of productive procrastination especially. All of those things that I might have put aside before as I whooshed out the door in the morning because I’m going to the office now become a primary area of focus for me as I work from home.

Productive procrastination seems productive, so it can feel good, but if you are putting off tasks that need to be done to do other tasks, it could be building your stress level, and if that continues to build you could be heading for burnout. If you find yourself engaging in productive procrastination, don’t beat yourself up about it, because there are simple steps you can take to stop the cycle.

When we are telecommuting or are self-employed, it is especially important to be mindful of productive procrastination and make sure to give our brain and body a structure to follow. One of the most effective ways you can do that, if you haven’t already, is by creating a distinct room or area of your home to serve as your consistent home office, because your brain associates locations with different mental states. Then, combine that physical space with establishing “work” and “off” hours and stick to them as religiously as you can (the “off” hours being equally important as “work” hours, but in different ways).

Finally, create ongoing awareness among others in your home of those physical and temporal boundaries. By doing this you are enlisting their help. If you are prone to productive procrastination, it is critical to success for you to have a set daily structure for your space and time.

Speaking of temporal boundaries, if you find yourself engaging in productive procrastination, give yourself a time limit for it. We have a timekeeper in our brains that knows we can do a certain activity for X amount of time, and then it is time to shift.

Bringing a Little Success Into Your Day

One little brain hack I like to recommend when you find yourself procrastinating is to set yourself up for what I call “Successive Successes,” which are small goals you set for yourself throughout the day. As you accomplish them your brain is continually high-fiving you with dopamine, and over time your brain begins to become more motivated and engaged.

It doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as small as saying, “Today when I get up I’m going to make my bed” or “After I finish lunch I am going to do the dishes.” Even completing those simple tasks will earn you a dose of dopamine from your brain. Remember, though, to give yourself a time limit for them and stick to it.

When you find yourself feeling a little “off” from the task you want to be accomplishing or even seriously dreading it, it may be time to bring in a little CPR for the Amygdala for a little reset. The first meditation in the sidebar of this article titled, “A Havening Meditation to Connect to Your Inner Motivation” will help support your system in moving into a deep state of focus and concentration which are key to overcoming procrastination.

Focus and concentration are muscles, and they have muscle memory. When our brains are not acting normally, we need to practice concentration as well as regulating our system so when we are getting these dopamine dumps for things we don’t want to be rewarded for the havening touch aspect of CPR for the Amygdala helps us by releasing the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, along with the hormone oxytocin, which acts like a neurotransmitter. They are known as the “here and now” molecules of our system. While dopamine can be characterized as “I want I want I want,” serotonin, GABA and oxytocin all serve to calm us calm us and make us grounded and more present in the moment.

Remember, our brains are supposed to be moving in and out of different brainwave states as we navigate our days, but that doesn’t mean we want to be in a continual state of distraction. A healthily functioning brain is continually self-regulating and moving us into and out of different data points. Sometimes it just needs a little help. Through shifting our state into motivated engagement, we are welcoming a brainwave state of interest and curiosity, and then we can apply that state of mind to a task that we would rather not participate in.

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