It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. There’s a lovely breeze. You have nowhere to be. There’s nothing you really have to do. Your home is clean. You have the day off from work. If you have kids or people you take care of, they are all being taken care of by loving wonderful people. You have no clients or bosses to get back to. The day is totally and completely yours.
You decide to go to the beach. You pack sunscreen, lunch, a towel.
You get there and find a spot. You spend most of the day just lying there on the towel. You’re not swimming. You’re not walking along the beach. You’re just lying there, relaxing, doing essentially nothing.
Here’s another scenario:
You’ve had a really busy day at work. You’re exhausted. Your house is a mess. You have no energy to make dinner so you order in pizza. All you want to do in life is eat pizza and watch something relatively mindless on TV.
Question: In either of these scenarios, are you “being lazy”?
Laziness Or Just Relaxing?
You might be reading this and be thinking that only the first scenario is lazy (I have a whole day to myself and I just lie around doing nothing? I should be getting exercise or doing something worthwhile!). Or maybe you think the second scenario is more evidence of laziness (I would get my butt in gear and make dinner and/or not waste time watching TV!). Or maybe both seem really lazy to you.
I would argue that neither is lazy. Here’s why.
The word “lazy” is subjective and guilt-inducing.
“Lazy” is not an objective term. One person’s “dangerously lazy” is another person’s glorious relaxation.
When you believe that you’re lazy, you feel bad for relaxing. Your endless to-do list constantly looms on the horizon. You tell yourself that you shouldn’t be lying around, you should be productive! You compare yourself to people who you think are never lazy.
The guilt this produces is overwhelming.
One of my clients recently noticed that she eats more compulsively whenever she’s feeling guilty about watching TV. When she feels guilt for relaxing, she also feels guilty for eating, and simultaneously uses food to manage her feelings of guilt. (Those of you with disordered eating issues probably relate to this tangled web of feelings about food.)
When she lets herself relax and just enjoy her favorite shows, she eats with less guilt too.
I trust the choice to relax.
Relaxing is truly divine. In my studies of the divine feminine, I’ve begun to see a relationship between the denigration of relaxation and the denigration of pleasure.
When you relax you experience the pleasure of not having to work hard, think hard, etc.
Relaxing is not nothing. Relaxing allows your mind to unwind, allows your muscles to let go. It allows space for silly ideas and great ideas. It allows you to feel your feelings. It allows you notice what feels right and what doesn’t.
There’s a time to be productive and a time to relax. Choosing to relax is a powerful and valid choice.
Managing The “Fat & Lazy” Stereotype
It pains me to even talk about this, but I think we have to do so.
First, let’s acknowledge the truly weird societal assumption that fat people don’t exercise and eat junk food all day and thin people exercise regularly, eat well, and therefore should be congratulated for being thin.
I hate to put it in these terms, but there it is.
So, let’s all get on the same page here. There are fat and thin people who eat well and exercise, just as there are fat and thin people who don’t. And plenty of people of all shapes and sizes who are just living their lives and doing the best they can. Furthermore, there is no moral imperative to eat well or exercise (or tell people that they should or shouldn’t, for that matter).
But there is this stereotype that fat people are lazy. And you may be feeling the need to disprove the stereotype by being active and productive all the time.
All I can say is, you need not worry about what people who view you as a stereotype think about you or your body. First, because it’s just not your job. And second, because it probably won’t work anyway. People who stereotype others aren’t often interested in facts. Being a “good fatty” won’t change their minds.
If you often characterize the choice to relax as laziness, it’s time to stop.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to pay attention to your internal thought process. If you find yourself saying to yourself, “I’m so lazy” or some variant of it, stop yourself and use an affirmation like, “I honor my choice to relax,” “relaxing is good for me,” or “it is safe to relax.” Think this thought repeatedly as a way to overpower your inner critic’s insistence that you’re being lazy.
Taking a few deep breaths and thinking “It is safe to relax” can really do wonders.
So get comfy. And if you feel like it, comment below with your thoughts on relaxing.
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
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