Procrastination May Potentially Harm Your Health — Here's Why

A new study by JAMA Network Open revealed on January 4 that procrastination can eventually lead to poorer health, including feelings of anxiety, unhealthy sleep schedules, and even pain.

Procrastination is the action of delaying your schedule and things you need to get done. If your final essay is due on Monday night and you wait until Monday morning to start typing, you may not exactly end up with a quality essay you desire.

What did the research find?

When life gets busy, it’s easy to find yourself procrastinating and delaying your schedule to take a step back. When that ritual gets to a habit, however, it can lead to constant procrastination.

The study consisted of 3,524 college students from Sweden and found that procrastination can lead to an array of poor results, including mental and physical complications.

"I was surprised when I saw that one," said Stockholm’s Sophiahemmet University clinical psychologist Fred Johansson. Over a span of nine months, students were followed up by the researchers to see if those who procrastinated got health problems.

Overall, students who procrastinate were more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep-deprivation.

"People who score higher on procrastination to begin with … are at greater risk of developing both physical and psychological problems later on," continued study co-author Alexander Rozental. "There is a relationship between procrastination at one time point and having these negative outcomes at the later point."

As the study was observational, researchers cannot scientifically prove that procrastination was the sole reason for their health issues. However, previous studies also revealed that procrastination can cause health issues.

Although procrastination isn’t deemed as a serious issue, the study flipped that idea and said it could eventually lead to a bigger research. Johansson said it’s hard to completely decipher if procrastination can bring health complications, or if those with health problems procrastinate.

How was the study conducted?

With over 3,500 participants, they were all asked to rate their procrastination level using a Swedish version of the Pure Procrastination Scale.

Students were to rate themselves from a scale of one to five, with one being "very rarely or does not represent me" and five being "very often or always represents me." The study consisted of five items, totaling 25 points.

They were also assessed for 16 self-reported health results during the duration, including mental health complications, pain, lifestyle routine, psychosocial factors, and general health.

The observational study concluded that procrastination does indeed lead to poorer health, including pain, unhealthy life routines, and more. Although procrastinating can be tempting, especially in college, it is important to find your routine and try sticking to it.


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