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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
Both diabetes and pre-diabetes can cause fatigue because of complications like inflammation, poor sleep, underactive thyroid, kidney failure, medications, and depression.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I missed your posts Nicholas but glad to hear it was because you were taking time out. I’ve been struggling to ‘work’ published last November and written 20K words since. I feel so guilty, but then I tell myself I’m retired and why and I beating myself up so much. I’ve always held two jobs but for the moment I’m blaming long Covid. Your comments are so true and suffering burnout is no fun at all as I remember well. Nice to see you back 🙂
Thank youso much for your support and understanding, Lucinda! You’re right, sometimes we’re our selves’ harshest critics!
Nobody could ever call you lazy. It’s called life my friend, sometimes it takes over, and sometimes it needs to take precedence. We get there when we get there. 🙂
Thank you so much, Debbie! How’s covid treating you? I hope you’re feeling better!
I wasn’t wondering about your being lazy. More like, what problems might be keeping Nicholas from more posting!
I’ll confess to once being both lazy and a procrastinator. It started in childhood; we’ll skip that. Over time, I conquered both but the procrastinator still lurks in the psyche, ready to take advantage. Forty-five years ago I began practicing the engaged Buddhism of the Soka Gakkai. Since then, I’m no longer lazy but still have to challenge getting things done.
Three surgeries for her in three years and one for me didn’t help. Nor did AFIB. Nor now being 75 with prostate cancer likely. But that won’t keep me from getting a book out this year, finally. That’s after taking a well-deserved vacation in May. Not lazy, just got things to overcome.
I’m impressed with your workload! Very inspiring.
That is so kind of you, John, especially since I just realized I never responded to your kind request for a beta-read! Without making any promises, I’ll do my best to read it, since it’s for May. I’m very impressed that you’ve managed to do so much despite everything that life has thrown at you lately! Get well soon, my friend 🙂
So glad you’re not I’ll, Nicholas. I can understand your feelings. I’ve just let my followers know that I’m taking a month off from blogging. I need to work on my latest novel.
I hope you enjoy more time with your family. That’s important. More than anything else. I look forward to your bimonthly posts.
Thank you so much, Viv! You’re a star 🙂
Good to hear from you, Nicholas.
Thank you, Jennie 🙂
Glad you’re not sick – wouldn’t assume you’re lazy. I’d be more likely to think you had to take care of elderly parents for a while, or recover from a car crash, or have to help a child get through school. Life happens.
As one of the 20% of Americans with a disability or disabling chronic illness (yes, the numbers are that high), I am well aware of what society thinks of those of us who don’t produce. It’s about to get much worse, with millions (lit.) of long-covid survivors.
In my case, the illness is ME/CFS – and the time period is going on 33 years. I’ve done the best I could with what I had left – I write mainstream, and am just about to publish the second novel in a trilogy which will be about as long as GWTW when I get the third volume written (the first two took 15 and 7 years, respectively, so I’m getting faster/better/more practiced).
The only consolation is that the fiction you write when ill, however slowly created, IS different, and the experience of being ill can make your fiction more compassionate, more real, more able to create empathy in readers.
Marketing is harder – but the results are what I’d hoped for, except it has taken me about ten times longer to write.
Being ill is stigmatized. Being chronically ill leads to people wondering why you haven’t gotten better yet (hint: sick people have a harder time advocating for themselves for research attention), as if the word ‘chronic’ were marked ‘archaic’ in dictionaries.
I have no desire to be admired because I persisted – but it does take a lot longer to get a book up to your own standards when you only get an hour or two of functional brainpower every couple of days. As for the work – if it doesn’t succeed on merit, I’m not interested. There is nothing worse for me (each person will have their own take on this) than to be condescended to: “not bad, for a …”
That’s amazing, Alicia! Thank you for sharing your experience here. If you ever feel like writing a guest post, please let me know!
It just means I am more likely to read your posts as I know they are saying something worth reading (unlike some…)
That is so kind of you, Cathy! Thank you, you’ve made my day 😀
Be assured, Nicholas, that I never thought you were lazy, but illness crossed my mind. I’m glad to hear the former is the reason. You are indeed busy, but no explanation is necessary and I’m just glad to learn all is well!
Thank you so much, Noelle! No, thank God all is well health-wise 🙂