Understanding Work Anxiety: Procrastination as a Common Symptom


Misconception of laziness for procrastination at work belies its prevalent manifestation as the commonplace anxiety expression.

When threats are perceived by the system in the workplace, procrastination is usually a common outcome due to its critical role that it plays in how we respond to stress in our nervous system.

This article discusses the relationship between anxiety, nervous system and procrastination thus helping to uncover what lies beneath this disabling habit and how to overcome it.

The Influence of Nervous System

Cathy Ranieri, a psychotherapist based in Chicago states that people don’t consider enough about how our nervous system works on a daily basis – especially at work.

The nervous system assesses such overwhelming feelings or anxiousness about jobs as possible threats which lead to various reactions from individuals.

Freeze response is responsible for most cases of procrastination associated with energy preservation since they are living under constant threat.

Procrastination as an Avoidance Mechanism

Procrastination is an untreated anxiety symptom serving as a way of coping through avoidance.

Experts claim that although it may seem like you chose this approach knowing full well that it’s counterproductive, it can eventually worsen anxiety.

According to Jordan White who is a licensed clinical social worker, procrastination occurs when anxiety triggers flight response making people stay away from tasks due to their deep-rooted concerns including fear of failure or incompetence.

The Vicious Cycle

Putting off tasks might seem like a good idea for a while, but the momentary relief can soon give way to heightened stress as deadlines loom and workloads pile up. Involuntary procrastination arises out of the perception of an anticipated danger.

The effect is not limited only to delay in productivity. When people continue putting off things, anxiety increases resulting into what we call freeze.

This state is characterized by reduced motivation, increased tiredness, and loss of hope. The combined effect lowers overall productivity and worsens the difficulties encountered in managing occupational demands.

Addressing Procrastination Anxiety

Experts have suggested several strategies for breaking free from the cycle of procrastinating and worrying at work:

1. Create a Schedule

A weekly schedule helps individuals manage time and avoid putting off tasks. For instance, Jordan White says that with a schedule one will not have room to procrastinate which is a more structured way of doing tasks.

2. Take Strategic Breaks

Stepping away from something and coming back later with fresh eyes can make it less overwhelming.

Taking breaks when they are most needed helps people regain their focus so that they can approach tasks with renewed vigor thus minimizing the likelihood of procrastination.

3. Start with Small Tasks

Dividing bigger projects into smaller ones makes it possible for people to achieve ‘small victories and gain momentum.

Besides, this shifts the nervous system toward parasympathetic dominance, resulting in ease and competence.

4. Tackle the Most Challenging Task First

Another way is by facing the hardest job first thereby denying individuals any chance to postpone it.

Accomplishing the most dreaded work at the beginning may lead to a sense of achievement making other activities appear easier.

5. Be Kind to Yourself

Thinking harshly about oneself like saying “I’m lazy” or “I’m worthless” enhances threat state instead of decreasing it.

It is important to practice self-compassion whereby individuals should talk kindly to themselves rather than criticizing themselves harshly for their conditions as well as foster supportive internal conversations.

It is important to understand the connection between work anxiety, the nervous system, and procrastination in order to interrupt this avoidant pattern.

By putting in place preventive measures, individuals can reclaim their productivity levels, decrease their stress levels while at the same time fostering a healthy workplace atmosphere.

The initial step towards creating a more sympathetic and practical way of addressing workplace problems is to diagnose procrastination as a sign rather than an act of volition.

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/procrastination-work-reason-anxiety_l_642ef16ae4b05cef00c7feee

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  • Understanding Work Anxiety: Procrastination as a Common Symptom