Procrastination is a nasty habit that can keep you from filing on deadline, preparing well for a meeting. Waiting until the last minute to accomplish your task can also lead to unnecessary stress.
The most recent study on the subject has discovered that procrastination can even be bad for cardiovascular health. Psychologist Fuschia Sirois of Bishop University studied a group of 800 people and found a correlation between procrastination and hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
“This study is the first to test and find that trait procrastination may be a vulnerability factor for those living with a chronic and life-threatening health condition,” she wrote in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine.
Trait procrastination affects roughly 20 percent of the population, and it’s different from just enjoying the occasional diversion. Chronic procrastinators consistently put things off and avoid work for a number of reasons, some are simple and others are complex, all in the effort to avoid stress. The thing is, they have even more stress in the long run.
According to Sirois study, there are two ways that trait procrastination negatively affects human health. First, chronic procrastinators tend to avoid self-care measures like doctor visits, and maintaining a healthy diet or fitness regimen. The second effect is that these delays are additional sources of undue stress that can take a toll on a person’s wellbeing.
Researchers have found that people procrastinate for a number of reasons, but emotional regulation is a primary factor. They want to escape stress and feel good, so the procrastinator does this by avoiding the task altogether. Sirois calls this “behavioral disengagement.”
There are often feelings of anxiety, shame, or guilt associated with procrastination, and this leads to the second coping mechanism defined by Sirois research. Self-blame further compounds stress, and leaves people vulnerable to health conditions like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
We have known for a long time that procrastination has a negative impact on the quality of our work. In a 1997 study that surveyed college students, it was found that those who procrastinated not only finished their work later, but also submitted lower quality work than those who went to work right away.
There’s no question that procrastination can be debilitating. Think of all the benefits to getting work started right away. In doing so, one avoids the stress that comes with procrastinating and will have healthier wellbeing overall.
Completing work on time and not waiting for the last minute will also make you feel in control, and give you a sense of strength and peace of mind. You can get those tasks out of the way, allowing you to focus on other responsbilities.
For those struggling with procrastination, we can offer a number of actionable tips for you to put into practise. Hopefully these will help you defeat the procrastination demon.
- Break large tasks into smaller, easier to digest steps so the task doesn’t seem as daunting.
- Place deadlines on yourself as progress markers. While they are not as effective as deadlines imposed by your boss, research has proven this to work.
- Forgive yourself. This is the opposite of the self-blame coping mechanism that Sirois identified. If you procrastinate, don’t beat yourself up about it and you will be less likely to delay your work again.
Procrastination is a killer, not only of time but of health as well. Don’t let it win!
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons
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