Are you procrastinating your life away? Are you forever putting things off until tomorrow? If you are, then you won’t be surprised to hear that you are probably underachieving in your life. However, the research also tells us that if you chronically procrastinate you are more likely to experience stress and other health problems. How does that work?
To understand this we must first explore the mechanics of procrastination. Basically, we put off doing things because we have negative feelings about them. So, when we look at the ironing that needs doing we feel a sense of boredom or tedium. When we look at a report that needs to be written we can feel overwhelmed or anxious. At that moment a part of our brain says, “Let’s do that tomorrow”. And so we then turn our attention to something less taxing and probably more fun. We put things off because we don’t FEEL like doing them right now. It’s all about our feelings.
Now, when we have a deadline looming we feel a growing sense of anxiety. This fear eventually trumps our negative feelings about doing the task and so we give in and do it. This battle of feelings is never a calm process. But here’s the rub – many of the things we need to do to take care of ourselves, things like exercising and controlling our food and alcohol, don’t have deadlines. We can keep putting them off forever. And so this is why procrastination is not good for our health.
Dealing with procrastination involves shifting our focus from, “What do I feel like doing?” to “What needs to be done?” Developing the ability to have negative feelings about a task but to ‘do it anyway’ is an skill well worth developing.
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