Life

What we can all learn from ditching the concept of “laziness”

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Lauren Geall
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A viral tweet has highlighted the issue with calling ourselves lazy – and it’s a reminder of why society’s obsession with productivity can be problematic.

We live in a society that romanticises productivity. For years, hustle culture has dominated our approach to life – whether it’s turning a hobby into a money-making empire or “getting on the grind” on our days off, we’re obsessed with squeezing every moment out of our days. But this glamorisation of hard work has a dark side.

Across the world, levels of burnout are on the rise. For many of us, chronic stress is becoming a very real problem – thanks to the “always on” culture that drives our obsession with work, we’re never switching off. And that’s not the only downside – for people who deal with chronic health conditions, society’s obsession with productivity and demonization of rest only adds to the stigma they face for taking time out to recover from a flare-up or manage their health on a day-to-day basis.

It’s this problem that makes a now viral tweet by Twitter user Brianne Benness @bennessb so important. In the tweet, which has been retweeted over 6,500 times, the writer, editor and speaker explains how her mental health benefitted from reframing the way she talks about fatigue and rest.

“The distinction feels contrived, but my mental health really changed when I stopped asking ‘why am I so lazy’ and started asking ‘why does my body need so much rest right now?’ she writes.

As is to be expected, this tweet seriously resonated with a lot of people.

“Oh YES,” read one reply. “I’m really trying to practice stopping and thinking about the basics: am I rested? Have I eaten? Am I hydrated? Do I feel safe? And work back what’s needing attention.”

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“Yes!” added another. “Also, when I started to not believe that laziness is even a thing and inherently an ableist concept, it makes it way easier to talk myself out of negative self-talk and thought spirals!”

Reframing the way we think about rest – and recognising how we talk to ourselves about our productivity levels – is an important step in putting ourselves and our health first. It’s a massive problem that so many of us find it hard to take a day off work for our physical or mental health – and we need to stop shaming people for needing to take a step back. 

A woman lying on a bed
Taking the time to rest when our body needs it is incredibly important.

As someone who deals with a mental health condition, I know firsthand how important rest can be. As a young person living in London, there’s a certain expectation that I should be on the go all the time, living my “best life” and surviving on very little sleep. But the reality is that lifestyle would be extremely detrimental to my mental health. Shaming myself for not being able to keep up with my friends or live the life social media says I should be isn’t helping anyone – instead, accepting that I need that rest and being aware of when I need to take a break is the best thing I can do for myself.

So next time you go to berate yourself for being lazy or procrastinating a bit too much, take a step back and ask yourself why your body is yearning for rest. It’s about time we changed the narrative around rest and productivity, so that everyone feels able to take the time that they need. 

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Lauren Geall

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