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Doing These 7 Things Does Not Mean You're 'Lazy'

If you live with certain health conditions, you’ve likely shamed yourself at some point for your need for self-care. Or perhaps you’ve been unfairly criticized by a family member, co-worker or employer. But taking care of yourself isn’t laziness. Here are seven things that might seem lazy, but actually aren’t.

1. Resting isn’t lazy.

Whether you are having a weekend “couch day,” or taking a nap in your car on a lunch break, there is nothing wrong with resting. In fact, regular rest has benefits. Maybe you have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression or some other invisible illness. No matter the reason, you are a human, and your batteries regularly need recharging. In a recent article for Berkeley’s “Greater Good Magazine,” Dr. Alex Pang writes:

“When we treat rest as work’s equal partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and a springboard for new ideas, and learn ways to take rest more effectively, we elevate it into something valuable that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.”

In other words, resting isn’t lazy: it can actually make you more productive.

2. Taking a “mental health” day from work.

As I write this article, I’m on a mental health day from work. After years of feeling healthy and strong, I hit a brick wall a few days ago and had a little meltdown. I’d been on the same prescriptions for years, but my brain let me know it was time for something new. It took my body a few days to adjust to the new medicine, and I knew there was no way I could function in such a mentally taxing job today. So, I called in sick.

I reminded myself that mental illness is a real illness. And if I’d just been run over by a truck, no one would question me for needing some time to recover. Well, friend, when your mental health is screaming at you, it can feel like you’ve been run over by a truck. So, give yourself permission to take a mental health day when you need it. There is no shame in being kind to yourself.

3. Not going to that party/event/get together.

Perhaps you have social anxiety or ADD. Or maybe, like me, you’re introverted-ish. Whatever the case, if your brain needs a little extra time to process thoughts before speaking, it can often be very difficult to participate in conversations where a gazillion different ideas and statements are being made at the same time. When we’re placed in a large group of people, especially if they are people we don’t know, we can wear out quickly. Large group settings tend to include lots of small-talk, which isn’t something we introverts enjoy and for some people doesn’t come naturally. All that effort to talk about the weather or a stranger’s pictures of their new dog can make us feel exhausted fast. It’s OK. You are OK. You have permission to decline the invitation. Setting boundaries isn’t easy, but some of the healthiest people in my life have the most boundaries.

4. Requesting accommodations.

For this one, I asked my friend Trey Gordon to respond. Trey is fully Deaf, totally not lazy, a recent MPA graduate and co-founder of Adjacent Space, a non-profit in Birmingham, Alabama, that believes “accessibility is not a charity, it is a right.” Here’s what Trey told me:

Imagine the world being ready and accommodating for you because the world is designed for the majority, not minority. The majority looks like: straight, hearing, able-bodied, cisgendered and sighted. We (minority) are forced to live on the terms that were set forth by the majority. Accommodations are a way where we can be seen as equals. We’re finally humanized, although for a brief time. Complaining about someone getting “special treatment” for getting equal access (again, for a limited time) like everyone has (and they have access all the time, anytime they want) is lazy.

5. Ordering take-out.

For the past few weeks, my wife’s depression has felt a bit more pronounced. Add a little global pandemic on top of it, uncertainty about the future of her job and the fact that she’s constantly working toward that Mom of the Year award, and Lindsey is having a hard time right now. Last night, neither of us had the motivation to cook dinner. But Lindsey feels guilty if she doesn’t cook a made-from-scratch dinner for our children. After a few gentle nudges, Lindsey finally gave herself permission to grab some tacos from a local restaurant. The food was delicious and the kids were thrilled! Ordering take-out doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you human. 

6. Asking for help.

When you’re having a tough time, one of the worst things you could do is to push away those who care about you. Remember, these are your safe people. They aren’t spectators, they’re here to catch you if you let go of the rope. So, tell your inner circle what you need. Is it someone to snuggle with you on the couch and binge-watch your favorite show? Is it someone to wash your hair, paint your nails, bathe your dog or check the mail? Say that. These are the folks who will spend the night, force-feed you breakfast and not preach at you. We all need a little help sometimes, so don’t be afraid to ask.

7. Applying for FMLA protection at your job.

Several years ago, while recovering from a suicide attempt, I was feeling deep shame over my need for additional time off and the ability to take extra breaks during my workday. It’s precisely why the Family and Medical Leave Act was created. FMLA “entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” So, no matter what health condition you’re living with, it isn’t lazy to apply for FMLA — it’s your right.

What would you add? Let Steve know in the comments below.

Find more from Steve on his site, Catching Your Breath.

Getty image via happyphoton

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