There have been far too many times in my life that I have been Mr. Monday. You know, that guy who makes plans to start something new on the upcoming Monday, but that Monday comes and goes and nothing happens.
Iâ€™m just going to eat at this restaurant tonight and starting tomorrow Iâ€™ll start eating good. Iâ€™m just gonna drink this last 2 Liter of soda pop, and then Iâ€™ll start drinking only water. Iâ€™ve got this pain in my side, but itâ€™s not that bad so I donâ€™t need to see a doctor now, maybe later. Starting Monday, Iâ€™m going to exercise take a walk every morning and start my daily exercise.
Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me too.
Hereâ€™s the thing. We all procrastinate to some extent, some more than others. Itâ€™s estimated that 20% of Americans are chronic procrastinators and some say as many as 70% of college students habitually procrastinate (Psychology Today, 2009).
Procrastination is bad for our health. It weakens our immune systems and increases the amount of stress hormones in our bodies. Often times, people procrastinate when they know they have a medical problem, and they delay seeking treatment.
But why? What is the root cause of procrastination?
According to WebMD (2014), the real reasons we procrastinate lie deep within human behavior. We tend to view things in the future as less real or concrete. The later risks of not doing something (or the rewards of getting it done) seem less real, too. Putting things off is a habit. We’re wired to do what’s easy, in this case, delaying doing something we donâ€™t find pleasant.
However, there is hope for chronic procrastinators because procrastination is essentially a learned behavior. Therefore, itâ€™s possible to unlearn this behavior.
Most psychologists agree that overcoming procrastination requires making new habits that consist of a few key concepts; making lists of the things you need to do, setting realistic goals with realistic deadlines, and rewarding yourself when you follow through.
It’s imperative that our patients have to tools to help them
I bring up this topic of procrastination because as nurses and physicians, we often ask our patients to make healthy lifestyle choices and itâ€™s imperative that our patients have the tools to help them accomplish this.
Knowing how to overcome procrastination is crucial for anyone who needs to make immediate changes in their life.
I think most of us can put ourselves in someoneâ€™s shoes that just received some bad news from their doctor. A situation that required this person to face his or her own mortality and make immediate lifestyle changes. Donâ€™t wait for this conversation, if you know something needs to be done, do it! Stop waiting around! Stop procrastinating!
I need to listen to my own advice too. Iâ€™d been meaning to write this blog for the last four days, but I kept putting it off. Itâ€™s actually kind of hilarious to think that I was planning on writing a blog on procrastination, and then I actually procrastinated writing it! LOL.