A study conducted with students revealed an exacerbation of depression and physical pain in people most prone to this type of behavior
An environment with more freedom to establish and organize routines can be a dream for many people, but it can be a nightmare for habitual procrastinators. Procrastination, the act of putting off or delaying tasks, in university settings, for example, can reach levels that are detrimental to learning. Putting off tasks to the limit can have other negative effects, leading to higher stress levels, unhealthy lifestyles, and postponement of routine appointments and medical follow-ups.
Although procrastination and illness may be related, it’s hard to say who causes what. Procrastination is a factor of physical and mental health problems or vice versa, poor physical and mental health leads to scenarios that lead to procrastination. A study of university students in Sweden seeks to shed light on this issue. The work, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, recruited volunteers with strong procrastination tendencies and followed their health for nine months.
A questionnaire was applied in which a measure of procrastination was created and health indicators of students who have a greater tendency to this type of behavior were compared with those who have a lower tendency to adopt these habits. The results showed that among the biggest procrastinators, there were stronger symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress at the end of the follow-up period. Among these, there were also more reports of disabling pain in the shoulders and/or arms, poorer sleep quality, greater feelings of loneliness, and more financial difficulties. When other indicators, such as age, gender, parental education, and previous physical or mental problems, are included, the association between illness and procrastination remained stronger among those who were more likely to engage in the behavior.
The cited data are not definitive, and do not indicate a greater propensity to illness when people are prone to procrastination, but they do indicate that procrastination is a factor that interferes with the worsening of conditions in some health indicators, including deteriorating mental health, suffering from disabilities, and adopting an unhealthy lifestyle.
The study began with the follow-up of 3,525 students, of whom 2,587 remained until the end of data collection. The questionnaire detected stages of procrastination from the beginning of the experiment and the questionnaires were administered continuously for nine months to detect differences in health and procrastination.