Everyone needs downtime, rest, and recuperation from time to time. After a hard day’s work, you probably want to relax and unwind. After strenuous physical activity, you may need to recuperate. After a period of stress or anxiety, you may seek out long-term rest. Such downtime offers an appropriate counter-balance to hard work or challenge.
Sometimes downtime can even be a productive and valuable use of time. Space to think, clear your mind, calm your heart, and leave room for inspiration and serendipity may very well be the best way to spend your time.
On the other hand, we all know what it’s like to give in to laziness. Some people really struggle with shame and guilt about their laziness and find it difficult to break away from it.
I asked psychotherapist Brooke Sprowl about the tendency to be lazy and how to best manage it.
The Epoch Times: Everyone needs a break from time to time. What do you think is the difference between well-structured downtime and laziness?
Brooke Sprowl: Well-structured downtime is when you build times into your day and week to rest, after having accomplished a certain amount of work. By contrast, when we indulge in downtime regardless of our obligations and productivity, this can perpetuate bad habits and inactivity.
The Epoch Times: What are some consequences of laziness that you’ve seen people struggle with?
Ms. Sprowl: Especially with the younger generations, there’s a strong desire to find a sense of meaning and purpose in their work and not just to view things from a utilitarian perspective. Often, this idealistic desire for finding their life’s calling is not coupled with the psychological resilience to take risks and get out of their comfort zones. In turn, they often become resigned, withdrawn, and passive, failing to pursue anything at all.
The Epoch Times: How can one recognize laziness in oneself?
Ms. Sprowl: If your rest is not actually restorative, meaning the more you rest, the more you need to rest, you’re probably in a vicious cycle of inactivity. You may even be dealing with a clinical mental health issue such as anxiety or depression that is making it difficult to get things done.
I believe that when people are in good mental and physical health, and allow themselves to rest and restore, they will ultimately be productive. If you’re allowing yourself to rest and you’re still not getting the energy to get things done that may mean you need to re-examine some things in your life that are chronically draining your energy. This could be a bad relationship, an unfulfilling job, or an unhealthy approach to dealing with your feelings or anxiety.
If you’re always drained and never have the energy to get things done no matter how hard you try, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to find a therapist that can help you sort out what’s getting in the way of your motivation and passion.
The Epoch Times: What are some practical ways to stop giving in to laziness?
Ms. Sprowl: Schedule both structured time and downtime. For example, pre-schedule certain hours in the day for work and some for rest. Take one day off per week where you just get to do whatever you want so that you can recharge and go full-force the rest of the week.
Create accountability. Scheduling work sessions with friends can help motivate people and keep them accountable to follow through with their goals.
Partialize. Break tasks down into a manageable size and approach them over time. For example, if you want to clean out your home but it feels too overwhelming, break it down into smaller tasks that feel more manageable.
For some people that might mean just cleaning out one room per day, for others it might mean just cleaning one drawer per day. Basically, choose the greatest amount you can do without it feeling overwhelming and do that every day until the task is complete.