We’ve all been told at one time or another that procrastination is a bad habit and creates more pressure for us to get things done on time. While it is easy to get caught up in something much more exciting than writing a 30-page term paper, the consequences of putting off the task may contribute to more than just increase pressure to get it done on time; it may be putting your health at risk. According to the Association for Psychological Science, “a recent study indicates that chronic procrastination may make people more vulnerable to serious health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.”
No matter the age, race, education level, or individual personality factors, researchers found that the correlation between hypertension and cardiovascular disease is prevalent among procrastinators. While procrastination itself may not directly cause these two health conditions, it does contribute to other factors that can have an effect on your health.
The number one factor resulting from procrastination is stress. Putting off a task until the last minute increases pressure to get the job done on time, and ultimately, increases the stress you feel. Most often, we procrastinate on the tasks that are most stressful in an effort to cope with the stress, which only further increases the stress we feel. This causes us to lengthen the time we feel stressed and leaves us with even less time to finish the task at hand.
The additional stress can lead to negative psychological impacts and causes us to become more vulnerable to illness. Chronic procrastination has also been previously linked to stress-related health problems like headaches, insomnia, digestive issues, and colds and cases of flu. As you might have guessed, when we procrastinate, we are more likely to avoid regular exercise and going to the doctors, further increasing the likelihood of getting sick.
Psychological scientist Fuschia Sirois conducted the study of trait procrastination and discovered that procrastinators tend to develop two coping strategies: behavioral disengagement and self-blame. These two strategies may further lead to heightened stress and contribution to poor health.
This coping strategy is used by chronic procrastinators as a means of distancing themselves from a given problem. This is by no means a healthy coping mechanism and does not allow procrastinators to effectively manage stress.
Procrastinators know it isn’t in their best interest to procrastinate and realize that it is a bad habit. In turn, they feel bad about themselves and elevate their stress levels.
While procrastination is not directly linked to hypertension and heart problems, it contributes to stress and creates a domino effect of health issues that can result in further issues down the road.