How Do We Skip Over Dread and Do What We Want?

I have a dilemma that has puzzled me for years.

Why do I dread the things I honestly know are good for me – even some of the things I enjoy? One of my best examples includes exercise. As a runner, I need to get in at least 3 – 4 runs each week to keep up my endurance and strength. I love the feeling of gliding along the country roads at one with nature. Plus, I never regret a run once I’m finished. Yet, somehow, I flip through a range of excuses before ultimately heading out for a run.

Patrick Blevins, retired homesteader, loves working on his farm tackling projects. Yet he reports similar feelings of dread before going out to cut wood or clear some land. So, what gives? Do you experience dread for things you want to do?

Dread can be described as a sense of unease or apprehension before an activity or event. It can be triggered by uncertainty, doubt, or even fear. There are some very good reasons we feel dread before we do something. It could be dangerous or involve the possibility of discomfort. I admit, running isn’t constantly pleasant.

If you know you need to take part in an activity and honestly like it or the result it brings, that dread comes from a place other than the need to keep yourself safe. Apparently, the reason for this apprehensiveness is quite simple. Once you understand this tidbit, you can more confidently by-pass the hiccup in your momentum.

 

It all starts in our brain. When you are in a relaxed state, you enjoy some particularly pleasant chemicals known as dopamine and serotonin that make you comfortable, if not downright happy. Nothing wrong there. But the drawback of sitting around binge watching your favorite series or engrossed in a captivating book comes when we need to leave that state of contentment. Denying those enjoyable signals to our noggin is unquestionably hard. Pulling on our workout clothes or getting out the cleaners and rubber gloves requires you to leave that ahh behind.

Once you get going with your exercise routine or the task ahead, you can roll with it until you get that swarm of new endorphins suggesting the goal is accomplished.

With that in mind, here are some tips to keep in mind when you want to avoid dread.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. So does a person.

Plan to jog your sense of movement if you are relaxing before beginning that new activity. Get up and walk around, stretch, and move until you are taking up that activity. This is called behavioral momentum. Start with something small that gets your body and mind revved up before committing to the full task.

Also, our brains may enjoy relaxing, but crave stimulation. Focus on the sensation of activating your muscles and gliding along the country road if you run or picture that sparkling kitchen after cleaning it.

If we don’t implore ourselves to get off the sofa, over time the dendrites in our brain will have fewer connections, eventually shrinking and disappearing in areas. That’s why we can begin to gravitate to sedentary lifestyles so easily and give up on those lofty exercise goals we made a few weeks back. It’s honestly hard to battle sore muscles and the litany of excuses rotating through our heads.

So many people say getting dressed for the workout is the hardest part. That first step really is a bear. Don’t beat yourself up. We all experience this and if we keep in mind the little trick our mind is playing on us, we can keep moving toward what we really want to do.

Before you know it, that stack of wood is piled neatly in the rack, the run turned out to be the one you’ll never forget, and the kitchen will sparkle – at least for a while.

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