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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Anxiety is a type of mental condition characterized by a constant and excessive worry that something bad might happen. According to researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), it is also a widespread feeling of discomfort brought about by a frequent feeling of apprehension that can trigger disordersPeter Dazeley/Getty Images
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Brazil is the most anxious country in the world and has recorded even more cases of the condition during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to adults, anxiety can also occur in children for various reasons, such as parents’ divorce, tests or problems at school, for example.Elva Etienne/Getty Images
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Although it is considered relatively common, since it can affect anyone for any reason, anxiety becomes a real problem when everything becomes an exaggerated cause for concern and the patient starts having seizures.Tara Moore/Getty Images
An anxiety crisis is a situation that causes a great feeling of anguish, nervousness and insecurity, as if something very bad and completely out of control were about to happen at any moment. Getty Images
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The crisis usually arises due to specific stressful situations that generate triggers, such as having to give a presentation, having a short deadline to turn in a job, being in a place you don’t want or having suffered a loss, for exampleTara Moore/Getty Images
Among the symptoms of an anxiety crisis are: rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tingling in the body, feeling light-headed, chest pain, nausea, excessive sweating, tremors, among others.Holly Wilmeth/Getty Images
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These symptoms occur due to the increase of the hormone adrenaline in the bloodstream, something normal when the person faces an important moment. However, if symptoms become constant, it could signal generalized anxiety disorder.Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images
What to do during an anxiety attack depends on the severity and frequency of the symptoms and, therefore, the ideal is always to receive specialized advice from a psychiatrist or psychologist. MICROGENIC IMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
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Nonetheless, performing breathing exercises, ingesting calming teas, trying to talk to someone you trust, resting, turning off your mind, doing physical activities you enjoy, or trying to keep your thoughts on something that brings you comfort are some tips. which can help you alleviate the problem.Jamie Grill/Getty Images
When anxiety attacks first occur, or if you’re not sure what’s going on, it’s important to go to the hospital to make sure it’s not another, more serious problem, such as a heart attack.Scientific Photo Library/Getty Images
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In any case, if the seizures are frequent, a specialist should be sought to identify the cause and initiate treatment.Fiordalis/Getty Images
Anxiety can trigger problems that, depending on the symptoms, can be classified as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia, panic syndrome, among others. These problems can impact a patient’s personal and professional life, so the sooner it is diagnosed, the fewer problems you will have to deal with.kupicoo/Getty Images
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.
“It 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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