How to overcome laziness
Is laziness getting in the way of you doing the things you actually want to do? Our guest expert, psychotherapist Tasha Bailey, shares 5 tips to help you overcome laziness.
Life can be demanding, and as human beings, we all need rest. It’s important for both our physical and mental wellbeing that we have slower-paced ‘lazy days’ on a regular basis, because they allow us to recover physically, mentally and socially.
But sometimes, these lazy days can go on for days, weeks or even longer. You may find it hard to get interested in things, or you may feel tired, low or a sense of being disconnected – laziness feels different to different people. And for some of us, these longer periods of laziness can become frustrating and upsetting if they start to stand in the way of the plans and hopes we have for ourselves.
Lazy tendencies may be caused by your lifestyle, personality, a physical problem, or a mental and emotional issue – and it can be a challenge to stop being lazy and return to productivity when you need to.
Here are my favourite tips to help you overcome laziness.
5 tips to help you stop being lazy
1. Work through shame
The word ‘lazy’ in itself can come with a lot of societal judgement and shame. It can cause feelings of shame and self-criticism, and we may end up putting ourselves down for not achieving what we want. This can create a cycle of shame that demotivates us even more.
Self-compassion is one way of decreasing these feelings of shame and encouraging self-confidence. So instead of criticising yourself, try being curious and non-judgemental about laziness and why it’s happening. This is showing compassion to yourself. Regularly reflect or journal about your experience, as this will help shift your negative thoughts over time.
2. Energise your body
Often when we feel lazy, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This is the system in charge of slowing us down for relaxation, rest and recovery. So, stimulating your sympathetic nervous system, which gets you alert and ready for action, allows you to kick-start your energy. Try starting your day with light exercise, a cool shower or standing in the sun.
Also, spend less of your day in the places where you tend to relax, like your bed or sofa. Instead, set up a workspace at home or use a workspace outside your home to remind your body that it’s time to be productive.
3. Start small and easy
We can often become overwhelmed if our ‘to-do list’ is too full of complicated or boring tasks. Start your day with small and easy tasks first – or the tasks that you’re good at. Each task you complete will send a rush of dopamine, the pleasure hormone, through your body.
And when you get to the more difficult tasks, make them more fun by changing your scenery, like playing your favourite music playlist while tackling it or doing it outdoors.
Author and TedX speaker Mel Robbins also suggests using the 5-second rule to turn your thoughts into action. This involves making a move within 5 seconds of setting an intention. So each time you decide on a task, count to 5 and then get started.
4. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself throughout your journey to overcome laziness not only boosts your motivation, but also increases your focus and performance. This reward may be something like buying yourself a gift or visiting your favourite place.
Taking moments to celebrate and review your progress can also be internally rewarding, as it reminds you of your growth and sense of purpose. So set out to have a couple of rewards planned throughout your day.
But avoid using food and breaks as rewards. Eating and resting are basic human needs that should be factored into your day, whether you’re productive or not.
5. Partner up
As human beings, we do best when connected to a community. Find an accountability partner within your circle. It might be someone who’s great with productivity and can help you break some of your goals down.
Or it could be someone who’s also having a difficult time getting things done – this way you can encourage and coach each other. Having someone to check in with also increases your commitment to your goals, as they’ll be able to gently challenge you when you haven’t been working on something.
Set some goals together with potential deadlines and create a safe, non-judgemental space to reflect on it together.
When to see a doctor about laziness
It’s useful to remember that laziness may be a communication from your body and mind. It could be that you no longer feel fulfilled at work, feel a lack of autonomy, or perhaps you’re burnt out.
But if you’re worried that your laziness may have an underlying medical cause, such as a mental health issue or a health condition, speak to a doctor. Also see a doctor as soon as possible if you feel lazy and:
- it’s lasted for weeks or months
- it’s stopping you from doing your normal daily activities
- your mood is low and you’ve lost interest in things that used to make you happy
- you’re cold and tired, and have gained weight for no clear reason
- you’re finding it hard to be productive and concentrate
- have trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- are getting headaches
- have fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- you feel worried after reading this
Call an ambulance or go to an emergency department immediately if:
- you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or others
- you’re hearing voices or seeing things that others can’t hear or see
Read more about the causes of laziness.
Your health questions answered
Is laziness a mental disorder?Answered by: Tasha Bailey
Laziness isn’t classified as a mental disorder. Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s an element of choice when we’re lazy, as we’re essentially choosing not to do things in our life. We all experience it from time to time, but eventually we choose to move out of it. But if your laziness or lack of motivation has been going on for a long time and you’re worried about it, it may be a symptom of a physical problem or a mental health issue like depression or anxiety, so it’s best to see a doctor.
- we all need lazy days of rest and relaxation, but sometimes, laziness may last longer and stand in the way of your plans and hopes
- we all experience lazy tendencies from time to time – practice self-compassion when this happens
- to overcome laziness, energise your body to move it out of a resting state
start with small, easy tasks every morning to give you a sense of accomplishment
- make use of rewards and accountability partners to maintain your focus
contact a doctor if you’re worried you may have a health issue