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Researchers Link Procrastination With Poor Health, Financial Trouble

CC0 / Pixabay / Results showed that higher levels of procrastination were associated with somewhat higher symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress nine months later
Results showed that higher levels of procrastination were associated with somewhat higher symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress nine months later - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2023
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Putting off unpleasant tasks is something most people can relate to. However, this quality may lead to unhealthy behavior (such as poor sleep quality and physical inactivity) and psychosocial health considerations such as loneliness.
A link between procrastination, poor health and other negative outcomes has been found in a new joint study by the Karolinska Institute and Sophiahemmet University in Sweden.
The longitudinal study that followed people over a period of time, taking measurements at various points, linked procrastination with higher levels of stress, unhealthier lifestyles and delays in consulting a doctor about health problems.
All in all, some 3,500 students from eight universities in and around Stockholm filled in a questionnaire every three months for nine months. By getting students to answer questions at various intervals, a reliable link between procrastination and its negative effects was established.
To understand how procrastination relates to later health outcomes, students with a greater tendency to procrastinate (as scored on a procrastination scale at the start of the study) were compared with students with a lower tendency, thus establishing a propensity to procrastinate before gauging one’s health. The results showed that higher levels of procrastination were associated with somewhat higher symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress nine months later.
Habitual procrastinators were also more likely to report disabling pain in the shoulders or arms, worse sleep quality, more loneliness and greater financial difficulties. The association persisted even when the researchers took into consideration other factors such as age, sex, parents’ level of education, and previous physical and psychiatric diagnoses.
Chocolate chip cookies on a bake tray. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2023
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Although no single health outcome was strongly associated with procrastination, the results nevertheless suggested that procrastination may account for a wide range of health outcomes, including mental health problems, disabling pain and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Considering that procrastination is prevalent among university students, these findings may be of importance to enhance the understanding of students' health, the researchers concluded.
On a wider note, putting off unpleasant tasks is something most people can relate to. The general advice includes breaking up long-term goals into short-term goals, reducing distractions (such as switching off mobile phones), and staying focused on a task despite one's initial reluctance.
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