The other day I was talking to my friend, Charlotte, and she brought up a fascinating concept I hadn’t given much thought to: rest and laziness are different.
As a newlywed I have had to navigate the waters of living with my husband, running a household together, sharing responsibilities, and figuring out what free time looks like, on top of taking on more responsibilities at my job, balancing 2 family dynamics, and somehow having time for friends. Some days I just want to turn my brain off and watch mindless TV until it's time to fall asleep. I allow myself this small comfort because of all the sacrifices I have made at the altar of “busyness”, I have earned some “rest”. But as I looked into “rest” and “laziness” more, I realized that I wasn’t resting, I was being lazy.
Rest and laziness are related concepts, but they have distinct differences in terms of intention, attitude, and outcome.
Rest: Rest is a deliberate and purposeful activity that involves taking a break or relaxing after expending physical or mental energy. It is often essential for recharging, rejuvenating, and maintaining overall well-being. Rest is usually taken with the intention of regaining energy, focus, and productivity.
Laziness: Laziness, on the other hand, typically implies a lack of intention or effort. It involves avoiding or neglecting necessary tasks or activities out of a desire to avoid work or exertion. Laziness is often associated with procrastination and a reluctance to fulfill responsibilities.
Rest: Rest is a positive and healthy practice that recognizes the importance of self-care and work-life balance. It is seen as a responsible way to maintain physical and mental health.
Laziness: Laziness is generally viewed as a negative attitude characterized by a lack of motivation, discipline, and responsibility. It often leads to negative consequences, such as unmet obligations and missed opportunities.
Rest: Rest often leads to improved well-being, increased productivity, and a better overall quality of life. It allows individuals to recharge and approach their tasks and responsibilities with renewed energy and focus.
Laziness: Laziness can lead to negative outcomes, such as missed deadlines, poor performance, and a sense of guilt or regret. It can hinder personal and professional growth and impact relationships and responsibilities.
Timing and Balance:
Rest: Rest is typically scheduled and balanced with periods of activity. It is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle and contributes to long-term well-being.
Laziness: Laziness is often characterized by excessive or prolonged inactivity or avoidance of responsibilities. It lacks balance and can be detrimental if it becomes a chronic behavior.
In summary, rest is a deliberate and essential practice for maintaining physical and mental health, while laziness is characterized by a lack of motivation and a tendency to avoid work or responsibilities.
Rest is intentional and restorative, laziness is an attempt to run away from and ignore what's going on in your life. As I thought about it, I had never really seen a healthy version of rest, I honestly don’t even know if I could tell you right now what a healthy rest routine looks like for me. But I do know, I’m going to make one. When I am escaping my life and not taking care of my mental health, it doesn’t just affect me, it affects the people I love the most. Especially my husband. When I am running away I don’t show up emotionally, I shut down and I definitely don’t own my mistakes in order to grow from them.
If rest is a concept you struggle with, like me, I encourage you, read on and commit to make a plan to rest when you are tempted to run.
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. This includes setting specific working hours and sticking to them. Avoid checking work-related emails or messages during your off-hours.
Practice Appreciation: Cultivate a mindset of appreciation by regularly reflecting on the things you're thankful for. Look for things in others that you are grateful for, AND THEN TELL THEM! This can shift your focus away from stressors and help you appreciate the positive aspects of your life.
Connect Socially: Spend time with your spouse, with friends and loved ones. Social connections can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging, which can be protective against burnout.
Take Regular Breaks: Incorporate short breaks into your workday to recharge. Even a 5-10 minute break to stretch, breathe deeply, or take a short walk can help clear your mind and reduce stress.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness has been researched and found to be an excellent way for you stay present and reduce stress. These practices encourage relaxation and self-awareness, which can prevent burnout.
Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is not only good for your body but also for your mental health. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Aim for a mix of aerobic and strength-training exercises.
Get Quality Sleep: Ensure you're getting enough restorative sleep each night. Lack of sleep can contribute to burnout and negatively impact your mental health. Follow the healthy sleep practices mentioned in the previous response.
Limit Information Overload: Constant exposure to news and digital information can be overwhelming. Set limits on how much news you consume and consider taking regular digital detoxes to reduce stress and anxiety. Maybe consider a day to get off social media, or better yet not check your phone at all!
Delegate and Seek Support: Don't hesitate to delegate tasks when possible, whether at work or in your personal life. Seek support from colleagues, friends, or family when you need it. You don't have to do everything on your own.
Learn to Say No: It's essential to recognize your limits and not overcommit. Saying no to additional responsibilities or obligations when you're already stretched thin is a healthy practice.
Seek Professional Help: If you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or on the verge of burnout, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can provide guidance, support, and strategies to address your specific needs.
Remember that practicing rest is not a sign of weakness but a proactive step towards maintaining your well-being. Regularly incorporating these strategies into your life can help you learn how to rest rather than run away.