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Procrastination is not a migraineur’s best friend- so why do we do it?

It’s pretty easy for me to make a seemingly infinite list of tasks I’ve not accomplished, promises I’ve not kept.  Bookstore-related duties seem to take the cake, but personal obligations fall by the wayside pretty frequently, too.

Remember how I was in a car accident last summer?  Well, my helpful lawyer has been nudging me for several months now to send him any updates I had regarding my medical care and healing process.  For awhile I held him off, as I continue to have back and neck pain and worry I never will heal from the seemingly innocuous event of having someone slam into my car from behind.  But after 2013 began and six months had passed since the accident, I knew I’d better get some information to my lawyer if I really wanted to work on getting my costs covered.  “Lawyer email!” or “CAR ACCIDENT INFO!” have been two popular items on my weekly to-do lists since early this year.  I would do a million other tasks and try to consciously forget those tasks I wasn’t going to accomplish that week, including getting information to my lawyer.

In the end, it took me about 8 hours total to get all the materials I needed together. All the hospital bills, medical follow-ups, MRI reports, account numbers, self-report on pain & suffering, etc. I’d been too lethargic to organize finally all came together.

And that is how I finally accomplished that one thing that had been on my to-do list for many, many months.  Yikes.

Before sending all the documentation to the lawyer, I gave myself some pep talks that invariably turned into lectures.  “Now, Janet.  You already have a life that’s pretty stressful, and your illnesses are exacerbated by stress.  Plus you were in this car accident in which you were injured.  You shouldn’t let items on your to-do list pile up and stress you out, especially when it’s possible that the resolution of some items could lead to better health for you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I’d tell Preachy Janet. “I’m busy ordering books for next season.” “I have to catch up on this TV show I don’t much like anyhow.” “I’m too busy looking at my high school acquaintance’s sister’s baby’s pictures.”

In short: I couldn’t really motivate myself to do this thing that a, wouldn’t take much time; b, would be a positive move in supporting my mental and physical health; and c, would be a huge weight off my shoulders.  What other payoff do I need dangled in front of me like a carrot in order to get things done?

As with many of my posts, I started writing this one with a focused idea in mind, but I started going off on something else all together.  Now I’m left with this simple question: Why? Why have I been such a procrastinator all my life? Why are even the most pleasurable or potentially rewarding actions ones I postpone again and again? Why do I deliberately delay taking action when I know that that delay will lead to an increase in stress and, therefore, a likely increase in migraine attacks?  Are any of you in my boat?  Or have any of you ever been in this boat but have since learned to get out?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Danielle E.
    6 years ago

    Me too!! We need a psychologist!!

  • Vicki
    6 years ago

    I’ve been one my entire life, I think. Migraines since as early as junior high, at least. I’ve wondered if it was one of those “side effects” you speak of in your other article “Me or the Migraine?”, which I’m definitely an addition to that group.

    My depression came full force around age 29 when I was forced to start dealing with a previous family crisis. But I’ve never been “high on life”. I’ve often wondered if the depression was always there underneath. In my early 20s, when I married my ex-husband, I became quite a sweet tea drinker.

    A year or 2 ago, I found an article online about tannins. Did some heavy thinking and gave up tea and caffeinated pop. That all but cured my chronic daily headaches!! I was thrilled to say the least. Wasn’t too sure if caffeine was really the culprit, but better safe than sorry. So see, the 2 seemingly unrelated items in the previous paragraph do relate!

    Sooooo, my chronic daily headaches combined with depression did not help with my procrastination. Now, that I’ve gotten relief from the daily headaches, and even though the depression is under control (I’m still not high on life, tho the new job as helped!!), I’ve added a 3rd mystery to the pot. The cause for procrastination? Daily headaches? Not and issue now. Depression? Maybe. Lazy? Maybe. Turned in a habit of life-long use? Who knows?

  • sandramhill
    6 years ago

    Yes, yes, yes! right here with you! : (

  • lisamariemary
    6 years ago

    Oh boy, yes! I’m in a MESS of procrastination right now! A lot of it is or could be blamed on depression over my sweet dog passing away in February. But the whole mess really started long before that. It’s just been worse since then. Husband brought home a new kitten so I’m perked up quite a bit, and hoping that I can get my poop together! And yes, I’ve procrastinated all my life.

  • amf194
    6 years ago

    Ah yes, I am a master of procrastination too and I am not sure how to break that cycle. Sometimes I feel like relaxing (ie. watching tv) will be better for my health, but I guess in the long run, the stress of the list of unfinished tasks outweighs any relaxation benefit.

  • Jen
    6 years ago

    Yes-and what is weird is that like you, I will not procrastinate on day-to-day things. For example, I recently graduated from college and I never procrastinated there–always did my work ahead of time, and was a great student. But I’ve known for over a year now that I need to get a new neurologist. I’ve known I need to call the doctor and set up physical therapy. I know I need to talk to my neurologist about that MRI he mentioned months ago…but I don’t. I don’t know why I don’t…I just don’t.

  • theresadz
    6 years ago

    Preaching to the procrastinating choir :). At night after dinner I really should be doing a, b, or c on my to-do list but instead I sit on my i-pad mindlessly watching Netflix and throwing the tennis balls for the dogs when they drop them in my lap. But the inner monologue in my head is “Just one more episode and then I will get up and start that load of dishes.”

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