Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing something that needs to be done, and it’s accompanied by feelings of guilt, anxiety, and stress. Procrastination can harm expatriates because it can interfere with their work, relationships, and overall well-being. How to stop procrastination though?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one solution to dealing with it, even for expats who find that their procrastination and the complex feelings that follow feel too challenging to overcome.
How Does Procrastination Affect Expats?
There are several reasons why expats may procrastinate. Some might feel overwhelmed and anxious about expat life’s new experiences and challenges.
This sense of overwhelm that can lead to self-doubt or loss of self-esteem is one reason why expats sometimes put things off, such as looking for a job, meeting new people, or making efforts toward other important things to them.
Additionally, they may struggle with homesickness, loneliness, anxiety, or sadness, resulting in procrastination.
Humans have two main ways of avoiding difficult or painful feelings and thoughts – fight or flight – that can direct a person to stop doing the things they value.
Fighting against unwanted feelings can look like suppression while running away (flight) can manifest as self-distraction. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these natural reactions unless they lead to vicious cycles.
For instance, after a hard day of miscommunication and failing to meet new people, some expats might take the route of beating themselves up about it or make their feelings “unconscious” through distractions – such as drinking or batch eating.
But if they continue to do this each time the going gets tough, they train their minds to avoid pain and discomfort. Avoiding pain doesn’t make it disappear.
How to Stop Procrastination – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Can Help
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT, is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on acceptance and commitment, essential concepts in overcoming and working out how to stop procrastination. It helps individuals accept their thoughts and feelings while also committing to reaching goals and making significant changes with the help of an expat Psychologist.
This can be especially useful for expats who feel overwhelmed by their new surroundings. By accepting that they can’t change everything about their new environment or how well they fit in, expats can focus on what they can control instead of everything that makes life abroad a challenge. And by committing to actions that will help them meet their goals, they can deal with procrastination and its negative consequences.
Some ways that ACT has helped expats reduce the effects of procrastination include mindfulness meditation, self-compassion exercises, and cognitive restructuring techniques (i.e., cognitive defusion). These are all aspects that an expat psychologist trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can teach.
Acceptance and commitment are two core processes of ACT that help one increase their ability to be present and maintain helpful behaviors. Being present is another core element of this mindfulness-based therapy that can help individuals accept all their feelings – pleasant or not – including their feelings surrounding procrastination.
Mindfulness involves being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judging them. When expats are mindful, they can better understand why they are procrastinating and causing them stress.
Should I Seek an Expat Psychologist to Overcome Procrastination?
Some expats find it helpful to seek professional help to deal with procrastination and its consequences. If you struggle with procrastination as an expat are wanting to find out how to stop procrastination, I can help you. I’m an expat psychologist working online specializing in ACT.
Together, we can work on accepting all of your feelings associated with expat life while also committing to actions that will help you meet your goals and live a meaningful and fulfilling life abroad.
Do you want to know more about on how to overcome Limiting Beliefs of life abroad? Check my Workshop here
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Gabriela Encina is an online psychologist specialized in expat women and supports them with the guidance and tools they need to feel confident, make the best decisions for their lives, build and maintain meaningful relationships and prioritize their well-being.
Her approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.