Are you a ditherer or a doer?

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We’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time – whether it’s due to can’t-be-botheredness or any number of silly distractions that win the battle for our attention when they REALLY could wait.

Other times, the reason for our procrastination can be an underlying problem such as fear of failure – or even fear of success. Procrastination can fill our bodies with anxiety hormones and lead to heightened stress and poor sleep long-term. So, is it better to be a doer?

New research has introduced the idea of pre-crastination. Pre-crastinators are amazing types that hate to delay deadlines and instead hurry to get them done and dusted as soon as possible. They like to chalk tricky tasks off their to-do list to offload the task from their minds. Even if it takes a lot more effort to do so.

“Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do, we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our phones, but also in our heads,” said David Rosenbaum, a psychological scientist at Pennsylvania State University, who carried out the research. “Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in the working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks.”

Whether you’re a putting it off or a must do now kind of person, you can still be prone to stress-related symptoms.

Me? I’m going to start work on developing my pre-crastinator instincts pronto…

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Could Christmas make you ill?

Christmas

Tis the season to eat plenty, drink until we’re merry and ease off on our usual healthy habits. Sleep – pah! Yet, this breakdown in our usual routines – less sleep, more party foods, stacks of booze, plus the pressure to be the perfect host and gift giver – can create a very real risk of the festive season making us ill, according to new research.

“At Christmas, when we’re trying to do everything, or get everything finished at work before the break, there can be a dip in desirable events and a rise in negative mood, caused by the varying pressures we all find ourselves under, such as financial worries, time constraints and a lack of support from friends or family,” says Dr Anna Phillips, a reader in behavioural medicine at the University of Birmingham.

When these kind of worries build up, Dr Phillips warns they can quite literally make us ill, as the stress affects the balance of the body’s hormones. This is due to a link between stress and a deficiency in secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections at the mucous membranes of the mouth, airwaves and digestive tract. If we become deficient in this vital antibody, we are at greater risk of infection and generally feeling ugh.

So, what can we do to lower our risk of getting ill over Christmas?

“People need to look after themselves,” says Dr Phillips. “Ensure you have plenty of good quality support from friends and family, and ensure you continue to maintain some healthy behaviours – get some exercise and plenty of sleep. Listen to your body’s slow down signals and obey them. Most of all, make a holiday exactly that; a relaxing break.”

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What regularly slips your mind?

Thinking

For me, it’s where on earth have I left my house keys. I’m always invariably on the last minute to catch a bus, train or get to an appointment and have just realised my keys aren’t where I thought they would be. Cue mild panic: I usually find them a few minutes later in quite a sensible place. My trouble is I’ve absent-mindedly put them down while doing something else at the same time. Multi-tasking has a lot to answer for…

So, the reason for my forgetfulness introduction? New research by the Post-it brand (those providers of bright, sticky notes that are memory-jogging wonders) has revealed the average person forgets four facts, items or events every day. The study of 2,000 people found our constant busyness leads to some scatter-brained moments. It even suggests we can forget as many as 1,460 things over a year – yikes!

The brand has compiled a ‘forgotten fifty’ list of the top 50 things that slip our minds. The top five all have that air of familiarity about them, though my worst offenders are numbers one, two, five and 28.

1. Forget what you went into a room for
2. Misplacing keys
3. Forgetting items while food shopping
4. Forgetting people’s names when introducing them
5. Forgetting where you left your pen
28. Forgetting train or bus times

Our hectic lives can leave us forgetting things here and there, and this is all perfectly normal. When you add this to the fact we naturally become a little more forgetful as we become older – it’s easy to see how and why things can slip our minds.

However, if you are at all worried about your memory loss, don’t keep it to yourself: talk to someone.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net