Deadlines and to-do lists are common when you’re planning a wedding, but so are the occasional feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out. We all face crunch times, along with the temptation to put off essential tasks. While procrastination can become a serious problem for any nearly-wed, you may need more than just useful organization and planning advice to help you overcome it. When evaluating this issue, it’s important to understand the deeper reasons behind these tendencies.
Is Procrastination All in Our Minds?
Researchers keep trying to unpack the mysteries of the human mind. As such, it’s not surprising to discover multiple theories that attempt to explain our motivations. People often believe that procrastination is a willpower issue, but scientists propose other explanations. BBC News journalist Nazima Pathan discusses a recent study suggesting that it’s rooted in emotional causes. Procrastinators in the study had larger amygdala and poorer neural connections between these and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex regions of their brains. Simply put, they struggled to filter out unpleasant emotions and worried more about the negative consequences of their actions.
A larger amygdala is only one possible cause of procrastination habits, but this discovery could have wider implications. Psychology Today columnist Christopher Bergland cites a 2017 University of California study revealing that individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder possessed larger amygdala and had more grey matter volume on the right side. While it’s unclear how these physical brain characteristics and PTSD are related, it does point to possible issues with emotional regulation, fear responses, and heightened attempts to avoid negative outcomes.
Fear, Stress, and Anxiety as Key Factors
Physical brain structures may only partially explain procrastination. It’s vital to examine the emotions and mental processes that can accompany it. Thrive Global points to the relationship between procrastination and perfectionism. For perfectionists, procrastination may stem from anxiety caused by the unreasonable expectations they set for themselves and their perceived failure in meeting them. The more anxious they feel, the more they may put off projects and tasks. It becomes a continuing vicious cycle that eventually impacts their daily lives.
At the same time, perfectionism isn’t the sole cause of anxiety. An August 2017 U.S. News article alludes to mental health challenges such as depression and OCD, while Verywell Mind contributors Arlin Cuncic and Katharina Star describe procrastination in light of social anxiety and panic disorders. Poor self-esteem and a negative self-concept can also result in fears of failure and negative outcomes, and procrastination may be an attempt to temporarily alleviate these fears.
A Temporary Setback or Part of a Larger Issue?
Feeling overwhelmed or anxious are common human experiences. The Knot talks about how stress can interfere with wedding planning and manifest as self-doubt and anxiety. Wedding Wire’s Lauren Rodrigue also acknowledges that some tasks may seem downright unpleasant and scary, which can cause you to delay in finishing them.
The key is recognizing whether delaying your tasks is a short-term issue or part of long-term behavioral patterns. Those dealing with chronic procrastination may need to take a closer look at their situations and seek professional assistance. While serious mental and emotional issues can certainly get in the way, some individuals’ brains are wired differently than what is considered typical. Neurodivergent people may be more acutely impacted by external pressures, feeling overwhelmed, and anxiety, all of which can interfere with executive functioning and planning.
No One-Size-Fits-All Solutions
Typical suggestions for procrastinators usually include breaking up difficult tasks, limiting distractions, and setting deadlines. These helpful strategies often make their way into wedding planning advice. At the same time, it’s also critical to understand why procrastination occurs in the first place. Without delving into the root causes, it can continue to affect both your wedding plans and your relationship.