Mental Health Problems and Procrastination: Self-Help Tips

In this blog I discuss the impact of Procrastination on our Mental Health. I also share some self-help tips on how to manage it.

Procrastination is putting off something(s) intentionally. To explain succinctly I will use synonyms: Delaying tactics, stalling, dilly-dallying, postponing, adjournment, delaying, dithering, deferral, and prolongation. You get the drift.

Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder – Mason Cooley

When overwhelmed, we will often find it difficult to accomplish tasks. We will also find it challenging to cope with relationships (intimate and friendships). Consequently, this can intensify the emotional problems making completing tasks even more challenging.

It is very common to find life very frustrating and sometimes disappointing. This happens especially if it turns out to be different from what you expected. This leads to feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. When experiencing these negative feelings, Procrastination can start to creep in. This can then negatively impact your mental health.

When we feel disappointed or sad it is very common to express that in self-defeating and damaging ways. For example avoidance of both social and academic responsibilities, not completing work, and not doing it poorly. This then becomes a means of communicating our frustrations. It can also be harmful as it masks our real feelings. The thing about procrastination is that it may seem that more procrastination is the solution to procrastination. This then leads to a cycle and taking a toll on your mental health. For a more detailed breakdown of what Procrastination is read Understanding Procrastination.

Procrastination and Anxiety

For most the root of procrastination is not laziness, it’s anxiety.

Anxiety is closely linked to Procrastination. Below is an example of the cycle of how procrastination happens.

  1. You look at a task that needs completing and equate it to your self-worth.
  2. You start thinking I can never do this task well enough.
  3. You then make the task seem very difficult to undertake.
  4. Anxiety then blocks you from starting to do any work.
  5. Procrastination then rescues you from the anxiety (by deferring the task).
  6. You then introduce a threat to help you complete the task. Deadlines are a good threat we use to help us overcome procrastination. Deadlines bring about the fear of failing, disappointing family, fear of being thrown off the program.

Procrastination and Perfectionism

Perfectionism is being unwilling to settle for anything less than the best. Unbeknown to them, perfectionists often procrastinate. In the quest to show how good or talented they are, they often set themselves up to fail. This is done by faultfinding and overestimating how quickly a task can be completed. There are 2 types of perfectionists

  1. Some perfectionists set high standards for themselves and believe their works should live up to these. Often this is linked to self-esteem and self-sense of identity. Those in this group often want perfection before working for it. They can’t accept the time it takes to complete the task. This is usually impossible because of the high standards they set themselves.
  • Some perfectionists are very concerned about fault-finding. These perfectionists are often high achievers and are often flexible enough to know that they will sometimes fail. To succeed they know they will need to improve on their efforts.

Procrastination and Self-Confidence

Procrastinators often have low self-esteem and low self-confidence. The chances are If you don’t feel good about yourself you may feel that others are cleverer and better than you. This will leave you feeling inferior and therefore not able to show off your perceived inferior work because you think it’s not good enough. Self-criticism can cause you to freeze and not do any work due to the fear of being judged.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step. Martin Luther King Jr

If you start feeling mentally fragile, there are several options depending on what you feel is most appropriate for you.

Talk to a friend who you trust and who is understanding

Talk to a supportive family member

Speak to a counselor – see the well-being department




Click Here for more self-Help Tips on Procrastination.

Learn more about Procrastination Here

For more resources about Understanding Procrastination Here

Last thoughts

The good news is that for many, a little procrastination isn’t harmful. For example spending 20 mins on social media or putting off doing some tasks for a few days. Having said that, procrastination can create huge problems for some at home, work or university. To put it blatantly procrastination can impact on every area of your life if not nipped in the bud.

Although there are strong links between Procrastination and poor mental health outcomes, it is difficult to say which one causes the other. It’s a chicken and the egg scenario.

More Tips on Procrastination and Mental Health

What is Anxiety

Managing Procrastination


12 thoughts on “Mental Health Problems and Procrastination: Self-Help Tips”

  1. I definitely struggle with procrastination. The only thing I’ve found that really helps is using the Forest app as a productivity timer. It blocks you from using your phone for a set amount of time and it’s definitely helped me see what I can accomplish in 10 minutes or so!
    Saph x

  2. Great take on procrastination and its links to anxiety and perfectionism. Sometimes procrastination is also a cry for help from our nervous system to intercalate logic-based tasks with more creative ones.

  3. This is such an important aspect of mental health/illness to discuss. Often I put off things because my anxiety tells me that I am sure to fail. I have to push beyond that and learn to be okay with things not being perfect. Great post!

  4. This is a very enlightening blog. I never associated procrastination with anxiety, but I now understand the relationship. Thanks for sharing.

  5. My procrastination has been with me a long time, and I can certainly see how my low self-esteem is a factor in this. But I think the biggest factor would be my depression, the worse that is, the worse my procrastination gets. I’m currently trying to find the right antidepressant to manage that better

  6. This was very interesting! I always related my procrastination to my low moods but I can see how it ties to anxiety too as well as low self-esteem, thank you for sharing!

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