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The way to clear your background stress

Today’s tip: Take an hour to do a sweep of your “open loops.”

Procrastination can feel like a treat sometimes: Renew the car registration that expires next month? Aren’t we all too busy and stressed out and focused on other, more dire things? Put it off. You deserve the break.

The thing is, you don’t actually do yourself any favors by letting those small, two-minute tasks collect dust on your mental to-do list. “Our brains tend to focus on incomplete or interrupted tasks,” editor Amy Shearn explains. Having too many so-called “open loops,” she writes, only creates more stress, lingering in the background of your brain and draining your mental energy.

Those open loops can be small annoying tasks (that library book you just realized is probably overdue!) or larger unresolved issues (that conversation about the holidays you know you have to have with your family). Individually, none of them seems like a huge deal, but as soon as you close them, you’ll find yourself a little bit more relaxed.

✍️ We want to hear from you. Send us an email at and tell us an open loop you just closed that relieved way more stress than you expected. We may feature some of our favorite answers on ’s Instagram.

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