Woman sitting with feet on desk and paper airplane in hand procrastinating.

Procrastination Can Impact Your Health

Why do we procrastinate?

Let’s start with a simple definition of procrastination. Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. We tend to procrastinate when we are met with stress or overwhelm. So we are already faced with stress and overwhelm yet we increase those feelings, putting more and more pressure on ourselves, as we continue to NOT do what needs to be done. Doesn’t sound very healthy to me!

Levels of Procrastination

Procrastination comes in all different shapes and sizes. Sometimes putting off doing something doesn’t really have much impact, like dusting the house or reorganizing a cabinet or closet. If it gets done it’s great and it will make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished, but if it doesn’t get done there are not huge consequences. These are the items you can do “when you get to it”.

The next level of procrastination involves doing those ongoing tasks that seem to never have an end but eventually have to get done. Two examples of this would be doing the laundry or getting to the grocery store. It may not have an immediate impact on you or others but at some point you will have to get the tasks completed because you won’t have clean clothes or food. This gives it a bit more urgency as you start to run out of resources.

Meeting deadlines is probably where procrastination happens the most, you know when something needs to get done but you keep putting it off knowing that you “still have time”. This is often associated with your job and getting the information to those who need it in a timely manner, if you don’t meet those deadlines it may impact your employment. There are also deadlines that are not job related such as filing your taxes, if you don’t file by the deadline there are financial consequences. As a deadline approaches you may feel more stress about completing the task, this type of procrastination usually happens with a difficult task or something you do not like to do.

I am not here to solve your procrastination issues. I will say that putting systems in place may help you stay better organized thus not procrastinate as much. Try making a list of what needs to be done and then breaking each item down into small steps that can be done in a few minutes. Instead of looking at the whole task, which may take hours, this may help you avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and help you accomplish the task at hand. I am no expert at solutions, I am a procrastinator myself and have to learn about setting up systems that work for me.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to your health

It’s time to give you some tough love.  We need to talk about how procrastination can impact your health, and I’m talking about more than the unhealthy stress procrastination causes. I’m referring to when you put off doing things that directly impact your health. Think of your body as your car, you have routine maintenance done on your car like an oil change. If you ignore the sticker or lights that says you need an oil change, the problem is not going to go away but you could end up with a car that can no longer be driven. The same can happen to you if you procrastinate about being healthy.

Have you made your annual healthcare appointments? Have you started eating healthier? Have you started exercising regularly? Why not? My mantra, be healthy BEFORE you NEED to be healthy is exactly what I’m referring to!

It is important that you make time to take care of yourself. Wanting to be healthy is much easier than being told you have to make changes because you are not healthy. I get it, we all want to enjoy ourselves, not be restricted when it comes to foods we enjoy or putting our feet up and relaxing when we just don’t feel like doing anything. We all deserve to do that, on occasion, but only after we have taken the steps to ensure we don’t have something bad bubbling under the surface. If you continue to procrastinate about getting your annual physical you may miss a sign that you need to make some changes. It’s better to learn now that you may be heading towards a health risk than you ignore it and wait until it is too late. Here’s a perfect example: early detection of cancer is key, the longer we put off our mammograms, colonoscopies, or our annual physical, the more likely we are to miss something that could save our lives.

I hope this article is the kick in the pants you need to get your annual appointments made, sign up for your exercise classes, and to make a meal plan that will help you be healthier. While there are no guarantees in life, being healthy BEFORE you NEED to be healthy could make a difference if you do become ill. Stop procrastinating, especially when it comes to your health!

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