Having gone from posting once every other day to twice a month, you may be excused for wondering if I’m turning increasingly lazy or if something worse has happened. Thankfully, all is well but I do confess to being somewhat exhausted. Between writing and editing some 40K words each month for various clients plus our second book with Rayne Hall (this one chock-full of tips for writing a series) and trying to enjoy some precious family time with Electra and the wee one, days can be a blur of chaotic activity. Some things, including, unfortunately, this blog, have suffered as a result. I thank you for your patience with me and for sticking around!

All this has got me thinking about my fear of being considered lazy. Most people might consider laziness an insulting term. Modern society, particularly in the U.S., places a high value on hard work and industry. If you don’t live up to that standard, you could be branded as lazy and be made to feel unproductive and less worthy than others.

As unfair as it is, the stigma of laziness is damaging for several reasons, especially if you have an underlying illness that limits your productivity. When other people perceive you as lazy, it can harm your mental and physical health. There are, in fact, many reasons you may be less productive than you would like. Consider, for example, how many illnesses you’re unaware of could hold you back and stigmatize you.

Girl relaxing in the office | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

The Gray Area

The strong value many of us place on hard work and productivity means that being less productive is highly stigmatized. If you don’t work extra hours, sleep less in order to work more, or take on extra tasks and duties at home, you may be considered less valuable. The so-called laziness myth is a symptom of a workaholic culture.

This stigma is bad for anyone, but it’s especially harmful to anyone who actually has an underlying illness or condition that limits their activity or drive to get things done. How can you explore the idea that you might be sick if society keeps telling you you’re just lazy? Here are just some of the conditions and symptoms that can get you branded as lazy:

Chronic Fatigue 

If you’re constantly tired, it’s difficult to be productive. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a real, complex illness. You may also experience chronic fatigue because of poor sleep, vitamin deficiencies, or emotional burnout from working too much.

Chronic Inflammation 

Recent research found that chronic inflammation in the body may affect motivation in the brain. Factors that increase inflammation include a poor diet, high blood sugar, stress, and too little physical activity.

Anemia 

Anemia is a physical condition caused by too few red blood cells. There are different types and causes, such as iron deficiency, but they all cause fatigue and low energy. Treatments for anemia are available and simple.

Thyroid Disease 

The thyroid gland in the neck produces hormones to regulate energy. An underactive thyroid causes extreme fatigue, making it difficult to do anything. A diagnosis followed by treatment can help.

Diabetes 

Both diabetes and pre-diabetes can cause fatigue because of complications like inflammation, poor sleep, underactive thyroid, kidney failure, medications, and depression. 

Digital Fatigue 

Digital fatigue is the discomfort you feel after using devices and screens for long periods. There are mental health components to this as well as physical. 

Eye strain, for instance, can make you tired. I, for one, saw a great improvement once I started wearing glasses to work. Not only did my headaches improve but my eyes feel far less tired at the end of the day. So, if you’re finding it hard to work, you may not be lazy but need the right glasses to counteract this. Browse affordable progressive glasses to avoid the energy drain that comes from staring at screens and blue light all day.  

Discouraging Stigma

If you feel tired and unable to be as productive as you like, see your doctor. You could have an underlying condition. Illness that saps energy should not be stigmatized. A notable way to combat stigma is to be open. Stigma is often the result of ignorance. Educate people about your condition and what it does to your energy and motivation.

Whether or not you have a condition that drains your energy, being labeled as lazy shouldn’t make you feel worse. Some people feel the drive to work more than others. This does not make them better people. In fact, many people who work long hours could benefit from more lazy time.

Cultural Conditioning

Our culture emphasizes work and being industrious, but often to the detriment of physical and mental health. Laziness should not be considered a bad attribute. It’s a necessary break from work that allows you time to rest and think creatively. Doing nothing is a time to relax, think through problems, and plan. Instead of aiming for constant busyness, try occasionally embracing the inactivity that is in your DNA. 

Researchers believe that laziness is built into our evolution as a species. Our ancestors needed to conserve energy whenever they could to be prepared to fight or run away from danger at a moment’s notice.  

De-Stigmatize Laziness

The next time you get down on yourself for not being productive enough, consider the reason. Maybe you have a vitamin deficiency. You could be struggling with depression. Your computer eye strain could be wearing you out. Or, you might simply need a break. People need downtime, and no one should be looked down on for it!