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The Crucial Differences Between Self Care and Being Lazy

Self-care and being lazy are surprisingly tied together. I mean, if you just spend the afternoon relaxing and taking a long bath, is that being lazy? The answer is yes…maybe.

difference between self care and being lazy

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Understanding LAZINESS: It kept our ancestors alive

Both self care and laziness involve conserving energy. They are both things that we do in order to reduce the amount of effort and energy we have to give.

So what’s the difference between them?

The difference is the reason why we are choosing to conserve energy.

Psychology Today reminds us that just like anxiety,  being lazy gave our ancestors an advantage and helped them survive.

“Our nomadic ancestors had to conserve energy to compete for scarce resources and to fight or flee enemies and predators. Expending effort on anything other than short-term advantage could jeopardize their very survival. In any case, in the absence of conveniences such as antibiotics, banks, roads, or refrigeration, it made little sense to think long term. Desire led to action, and action led to immediate gratification, without much need for proposing, planning, preparing, and so forth.” – Psychology Today

So, as members of the human race, we have evolved to see the value in being lazy and conserving energy. So what’s the catch?

Well, back in the cave man days, not getting eaten by a lion was your life goal. Your life was going extremely well if you had enough food to get you to the age of twenty five.

In those days, we needed to conserve energy so that if we ran out of food or had to run from a tiger, we stood a fighting chance.

But alas, the world has changed and we no longer need to merely survive. Can you imagine someone who only ate food, slept and drank water? Well, they wouldn’t be living their best life, that’s for sure!

This is where self care comes in. It’s about conserving energy in a way that allows us to thrive rather than survive. 

Self Care Is For Recharging

Laziness means that we are avoiding tasks that we want to or should be doing. Self Care is about recharging so that we have the energy to do those tasks efficiently.

Self care is about taking the time to rest and give your body the care it needs in order to:

  • Be more productive
  • Achieve goals in a shorter amount of time
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Increase happiness and life fulfillment.

Do you see how all those results are actually the opposite of laziness? Laziness means we are less productive, we don’t get things done and don’t reach our goals.

Pssst…You might be interested in my FREE 10 Day Self Care Challenge. Click here to learn more.

Laziness is a judgment

Everyone’s idea of “laziness” is different. You can’t tell if someone is being lazy just by observing what they are doing. The reason that someone is acting in a certain way is the difference between self care and being lazy.

Let’s imagine someone spent the whole day in pajamas watching Netflix on the couch. Is that laziness or self care?

There’s no way of knowing. It depends on the person and their circumstances.

If the person has stable mental health, is 30 years old, has no job and is being financially supported by her parents then yes, I would say that’s being lazy.

On the other hand, if the person works 12 hour shifts during the week, works out every weekday morning, has 3 kids and is watching Netflix because the kids are Grandma’s for the weekend, I would say this person is practicing self-care.

So who gets to be the judge for whether it’s self-care or being lazy? You.

It depends on your goals

You know your body more than anyone else in the whole world. Self-care is about listening to your body and the only person that can do that effectively is you.

Now I believe that self-care is not selfish and when you are practicing self-care it should be guilt-free. This can be hard to do when you have big goals and are trying to be everything to everyone. The perfect mom, the perfect wife or girlfriend, or the perfect employee.

Your goals are going to impact whether you are practicing self-care or being lazy and the bigger your goals, the more important it is to practice self care. 

If you want to do everything, then conserving energy whenever you can is essential. Otherwise, you are going to burn out.

Now that you know all of this, it is in your best interest to structure your goals so that they benefit you the most. If your current goal list looks something like this:

  • Get promoted by the end of the year
  • Become head coach for your son’s baseball team
  • Organize the mom’s book club and plan events
  • Run the summer-time marathon

Then you should consider a goal list that looks something like this:

-Increase productivity by delegating tasks and asking for help

-Live the rest of the year stress and anxiety free

-Accomplish fewer tasks at 100% rather than many tasks at 50%

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Another way to determine whether or not you’re being lazy is the frequency at which you do certain activities. For example, do you watch Netflix for an hour after dinner has been made and cleaned up or do you binge watch shows all weekend?

Now, binging watching Netflix shows all weekend can still be self care, depending on your circumstances but self care practices should be kept down to the minimum amount of time required to recharge your body and mind. 

Think of it like sleep. If you spent a whole week on only 4 hours of sleep every night, you might want to spend the Friday sleeping for 10 hours or so to catch up on all the sleep you missed throughout the week. But if you spend every night sleeping for 10 hours, you are wasting 2 hours every single day because your body only needs 8 to function efficiently.

This same principle applies to self care and it is why I structured my self care morning routine to actually save me time rather than waste time in the morning.

Delegation and Asking For Help

When I was working a high stress job as a production manager for a film company, I almost never asked for help. I thought that asking for help would make me appear weak or lazy.

After 5 years of working this high stress job, I came home crying and realized I needed to quit, like today. I think I waited about a week and then officially told my boss I was quitting.

The surprising thing about that was that I didn’t even consider myself “burned out” until after I left the company. Once I realized that that’s exactly what it was, I learned a huge lesson. Burn out happens without any warning.

This is why delegating tasks and asking for help is not laziness or weakness. It is self care working its magic.

Remember, laziness might help you survive but self care will help you thrive. 

Prioritizing SELF CARE

Putting things off so that you can get more important things done first is not laziness. It is an extremely smart and efficient way to accomplish goals and get tasks completed.

Let’s say you’ve been dealing with your son’s fever for the whole day and he’s finally sleeping. Because you’ve been so busy, the dishes have piled up and so has the laundry. Instead of tackling those tasks, you decide to take a break and sip some tea on patio.

This is not laziness it is prioritizing your self care. Self care is part of the “to-do” list just like everything else.

The balancing act

Too much of a good thing is always bad. Even too much water can kill you.

Self care is something we need to prioritize and take part in on a regular basis, but too much of it can easily fall into the laziness category.

At the end of the day, your life is yours and you get to choose what goals and tasks you want to accomplish. Some people are perfectly happy working a simple, low earning job and others have higher goals such as wanting to own a business.

There is no wrong answer in the above situations.

Self care is crucial to your mental stability and life happiness but knowing when it has crossed over into laziness is only something you can determine. There’s no wrong answer as long as you are happy!

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Lana Otoya

1 thought on “The Crucial Differences Between Self Care and Being Lazy”

  1. Thank you so much for this! For me, having confirmation and an understanding of the difference between self care and being lazy is very comforting. There is something specific in this article that I would like to offer my opinion on. I am referencing where you said, in reference to self-care, “It’s about conserving energy in a way that allows us to thrive rather than survive.” I think that, for example, when it comes chronic illness, self care allows one to thrive to help them be able to survive. It’s just something that stood out to me and I figured I would mention that.

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