Procrastination is a sign of health problems | metropolis

Leaving the dishes for later, postponing the start of school for an important test, or putting off important activities for later are common habits of procrastinators. A new study, published this month in the journal JAMA Network Open, shows how avoiding appointments can be a sign of poor health.

The Swedish researchers conducted the study by tracking the lifestyles of 2,587 students at eight Stockholm universities over the course of nine months. They aimed to clarify whether procrastination can cause mental and/or physical impacts.

Using a procrastination scale, the scientists divided the participants into two groups for comparison: those more likely to put off tasks and those less likely to do so. At the end of the nine months, they completed a questionnaire in which various health criteria were measured.

Higher levels of procrastination were associated with worse mental health, with stronger symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress; as well as a higher incidence of disabling pain in the shoulders or arms – or both –, poorer quality of sleep, loneliness and financial hardship.

“Although no specific health outcomes were strongly associated with procrastination, the findings suggest it may be important for a broad range of health outcomes, including mental health issues, disabling pain, and an unhealthy lifestyle,” says one of the authors of the study, Eva Skillgate, in an article published on the website The Conversation.

The scientist says that other factors not considered in the analysis can explain the associations between procrastination and damage to health and acknowledges the limitations of the study, such as the short period of time elapsed and the recurrence of the application of the questionnaires.

“By having students answer questionnaires at different times, we could be sure that high levels of procrastination were present before measuring their health,” says Eva.

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Studies with clinical trials have already shown that cognitive behavioral bias therapy helps people avoid procrastination. Strategies like dividing long-term goals into short-term goals; stay focused on one activity at a time; and managing the distractions that the world offers, such as cell phone use, can be very helpful in this process.

β€œIt takes some effort, it’s not something a person can do trying to meet a specific deadline. But even small changes can have a big effect. Why not start today by leaving your mobile phone in another room when you have to concentrate on a task?” suggests the teacher.

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