How Procrastination Damages Us

Procrastination is defined as, “self-regulatory failure to initiate an act despite knowing the negative consequences”. This is something many of us find ourselves doing, sometimes every single day. Why do we do it? What are the factors that cause us to delay the initiation or completion of certain tasks, despite knowing of the negative outcomes if we fail to do so? Why do we wait until the last moment? This series of articles is my attempt to understand this phenomenon a little better.

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Some may even term procrastination as irrational or perhaps self destructive, given that the awareness of negative consequences is a requirement element in the definition of procrastination, and a well-known probable outcome of delaying the intended course of action, and yet the action is delayed.

How does procrastination impact our health? ​1​

Greater Alcohol Consumption

Given procrastination is seen as a problem of self regulation, it has been observed that procrastinators tend to consume more in a single session than they intended or otherwise tend to.

Reduced Immune System Effectiveness

The stress arising from a known issue with procrastination causes immune system dysfunction, causing procrastinators to suffer from an increased frequency of transmissible diseases, including gastrointestinal distress. ​2​

Impact On Relationships

Repeated procrastination can cause the person to be seen as avoiding of responsibility, having a reduced sense of duty, a tendency to neglect or just plain lazy. This impacts teamwork and the health of both personal and professional relationships.

Higher Stress Levels

Procrastination is essentially defined as the delaying of action despite knowing the consequences. Consistent procrastination over time therefore, leads to increased stress levels, because the procrastinator is fully aware of the undesirable outcomes of procrastination as well as aware that the action is likely to be delayed.

Reduced Emotional Heath & Insomnia

Procrastinators tend to begin seeing themselves as less than effective, sometimes inferior to their peers, in addition to considering what others think about them, which includes being lazy, negligent and more, while at the same time knowing those qualities do not really describe them. All of this brings about a sense of inferiority and emotional turbulence initiated by a form of cognitive dissonance.


  1. 1.
    Hasanagic A. The Validity Exploration of General Procrastination Scale (Lay, 1986). epiphany. Published online January 10, 2019:55. doi:10.21533/epiphany.v11i1.283
  2. 2.
    Khullar S. Who Can Benefit From Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. CAL Wellness. Published July 4, 2022. https://calwellness.in/2022/07/04/who-can-benefit-from-mindfulness-based-stress-reduction-mbsr/

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