By Carol Phillips
Are you a person who procrastinates in many areas of your life? Do you continuously put off what you know you should be doing? Is the problem of procrastination only in the area of your health? Procrastination is a habit that can be hard to change, but it can be done. If you picture having to make all the changes to your health at once, you are even more likely to procrastinate. Spend some time recognizing the situations in which you procrastinate and think about how delaying action has a negative effect on different areas of your health.
Try to figure out why you procrastinate and then come up with some small changes you can make to get in the habit of prioritizing your health. For example, if you’ve been procrastinating about making a medical appointment, take a moment to figure out if there is a reason why you don’t want to go to the doctor. If you determine that you’re not happy with the doctor you are using, maybe it’s time to choose a new doctor. If you haven’t been making an appointment because you’re nervous about finding out something negative about your health, remember that procrastinating may make the situation worse. Often, when we figure out why we are procrastinating, it’s easier to take action.
In the Association for Psychological Science’s Observer, the article titled “Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination” states, “In research settings, people who procrastinate have higher levels of stress and lower well-being. In the real world, undesired delay is often associated with inadequate retirement savings and missed medical visits.” (www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2013/april-13/why-wait-the-science-behind-procrastination.html)
Procrastination in one area of your life spills over into all others, but the good news is that improving it in any one area also helps you break patterns of procrastination in other areas. For example, no one guarantees that committing to scheduling and keeping doctor visits will help you also become better at saving money for retirement, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.
Positive reinforcement is important with any healthy change, and chronic or even occasional procrastination is no exception. After you have been successful in taking action and not procrastinating, give yourself positive feedback. Also, take note of the different ways you (and others) have benefitted from taking action instead of procrastinating.
Simple tricks to keep you on track can be helpful. These may include putting things you need to do in your calendar or on your “to do” list. Possibly breaking a task into smaller parts can help you get started. Have friends hold you accountable by having them ask for updates. Another idea is to make a deal with yourself that you won’t watch your favorite television show until you have a certain task completed.
Whatever works for you is better than continuing to procrastinate. Your health won’t wait indefinitely. Every time you succeed in not procrastinating, give yourself positive feedback and be conscious of all the benefits of taking action. Mentally rewarding yourself with praise and elevating your consciousness regarding procrastination will help you reduce or eliminate future procrastination.
Start today. The next time you catch yourself procrastinating, encourage yourself to at least do a small part of what you are avoiding. Then, notice how taking action can reduce your stress and positively affect your health. Begin the journey of forming a new habit of not procrastinating.
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. She helps companies significantly reduce costs and increase productivity through a new approach to wellness. Based in Manchester, N.H., she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.