Procrastination may wreak havoc on your health. Here's what you may do

Procrastination may wreak havoc on your health. Here's what you may do ...

This story is unlikely to interest the worst procrastinators. It will remind them of what they're trying to avoid, according to psychologist Piers Steel.

Maybe they are dragging their feet getting ready at the gym. Maybe they haven't made any New Year's resolutions. Maybe they're waiting just one more day to study for that exam.

Procrastination is "putting off to later what you know you should be doing right now," according to Steel of the University of Calgary in Canada. All of these tasks seem to wedge themselves into the subconscious, and it might be causing harm to people's health.

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Scientists at Sophiahemmet University in Stockholm linked procrastination to a panoply of poor outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and even crippling arm pain, and their findings were published in the JAMA Network Open on January 4.

The current research is one of the fewest to examine the effects of delaying in the workplace on health. According to Fuschia Sirois, a behavioral scientist at Durham University in England, the findings echo those from earlier studies that were mostly ignored.

Scientists seemed to ignore procrastination as something serious for years, according to Sirois. The new study has the potential to change that. "I'm hoping that it will increase awareness of the physical health consequences of procrastination."

Procrastination is a chicken-and-egg situation.

Johansson says it's difficult to know whether certain health problems cause people to procrastinate — or the other way around. Moreover, you can't just tell a participant to become a procrastinator and wait to see if their health improves.

Procrastination has been linked to a myriad of potential health problems and other undesirable effects, according to a recent investigation.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Disabling arm pain
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Physical inactivity
  • Loneliness
  • Economic difficulties

Many previous studies have relied on self-reported surveys taken at a single time point. However, a snapshot of someone makes it difficult to separate cause and effect. Instead, in the current investigation, around 3,500 students were followed over nine months, so researchers could track whether procrastinating students later developed health conditions.

According to study coauthor Alexander Rozental, these students tend to do worse over time than their prompter peers. They were slightly more stressed, anxious, depressed, and sleep-deprived, among other problems.

Procrastination during bedtime is not a safety net, because the team can't say for sure that procrastination is causing poor health. However, previous research has suggested that procrastinating at bedtime is linked to poor cardiovascular health.

According to Sirois' lab and other studies, stress may be to blame for procrastination's adverse effects. She believes that chronic procrastination may improve health over time.

Chronic procrastinators are expected to account for 20% of adults. “They do it at home, at school, at work, and in their relationships,” says Joseph Ferrari.

Procrastinators may think they are better under pressure, but Ferrari has shown that they worked more slowly and made more errors than non-procrastinators, according to Steel's research.

Researchers have studied procrastinators' personalities for years. Some scientists agree that procrastinators may be impulsive, gruesome, or have trouble regulating their emotions. Ferrari asserts that procrastinators aren't lazy. They're actually "very busy doing other things than what they're supposed to be doing."

Rozental asserts that most research today suggests that procrastination is a behavior pattern.

Procrastination is a behavior, according to the author, and it is something you can change, regardless of whether you are impulsive.

People who have put off a challenging task are content — in the moment.

Sirois believes that procrastinating is a great way to avoid the negative emotions associated with the task. "We're sort of hardwired to avoid anything unpleasant or difficult," she adds. A backdrop of stressful situations, like a worldwide epidemic, can impair people's ability to cope.

Researchers have investigated procrastination treatments that cover everything from the logistical to the psychological. What works best is still under review. Some scientists have reported success with time-management interventions. However, the evidence for that is "all over the map," according to Sirois.

Simple methods may work for some procrastinators. In his clinical practice, Rozental advises students to simply turn off their smartphones. Studies in the library rather than at home can reduce distractions and keep people on task.

Cognitive behavioral therapy may be beneficial to hard-core procrastinators. Rozental rated this type of therapy to be the most beneficial in a 2018 review of procrastination techniques. Still, not many studies have examined treatments, and there is room for improvement, according to the author.

Sirois advocates for an emotion-centered approach. Procrastinators can fall into a shame spiral when they are uneasy about a task, postpone it, are ashamed for putting it off, and then feel worse than they were when they started, according to scientists.

Sirois and colleagues reported on the January Learning and Individual Differences that eight weekly mindfulness sessions reduced procrastination. Students practiced focusing on the body, meditating during unpleasant activities, and discussed the best way to take care of yourself.

"You made a mistake and procrastinated." "It's not the end of the world," she says. "What can you do to move forward?"

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