You Need a Break. So Take One.
by Dr. Sue Varma
I see you there, methodically navigating your to-do list, orchestrating triumphs over each challenge. Yet, unbeknownst to you, your mental and physical well-being may be yearning for a bit of downtime. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is a formidable adversary to our natural killer (NK) cells – innate immune system components that play a pivotal role in identifying and eliminating cells infected by viruses or transformed into cancer cells.
Ongoing stress makes us increasingly susceptible to the anti-power duo of cortisol and adrenaline. Instead of friendly sidekicks, these two wreak havoc in our bodies, causing problems like heart issues and sleep troubles. It’s like letting chaos crash our well-being party. All this to say, maybe it’s time to cut our bodies some slack and perhaps indulge in a day of leisure.
Benefits of a Lazy Day
I know you’re a go-getter, so the idea of taking a day off to just do nothing might make you a little anxious. Let’s visualize how this will go: you wake up naturally, no alarm. There’s nothing on the agenda but nothing. No shame or regret – your only job for the day is to lounge like royalty, wrapped in the warmth of guilt-free idleness.
You’re not being selfish; this day of lazing about is a gift to your body. As you recline, cheesy romance novel in hand, your blood pressure takes a leisurely dip, offering a serene respite to your cardiovascular system. It’s a spa day for your arteries, a chance for them to unwind and regain their composure.
As you bask in this tranquil state, your hormones follow suit, finding a natural rhythm of balance, giving cortisol a break, and letting other hormones maintain a steady equilibrium. This state of pre-scheduled serenity might even contribute to an unexpected bonus – the potential to add more years to your life.
Since mental health is my wheelhouse, I’d be remiss if I didn’t dive into the benefits of occasional laziness on your mental and emotional health. Giving your to-do list the day off allows room for your mind to wander unapologetically, serving as a catalyst for unlocking creative potential. You may notice that ideas begin to flow more organically. Problems that may have felt impossible to solve may not feel quite as overwhelming when your adrenal system isn’t already on high alert. The mind, free from the pressures of haste, gains the clarity to navigate complexities with ease, not anxiety.
Strategies for “Healthy Laziness”
How do we master the fine art of “healthy laziness”?
It’s like yoga for the soul but without the sweat. When you anticipate a stress storm on the horizon, go ahead and proactively schedule a lazy day – consider it a mental health holiday.
If you’re worried about not being productive enough in your laziness (old habits die hard), consider adding in a worry diary. Jot down those nagging thoughts, let them dance for a while, then kindly ask them to exit stage left.
I draw the line at multitasking, though. When you rest, do it right. Give your smartwatch and social media the day off, too. No half-hearted scrolling through emails – go big or go home. And don’t forget the Lazy Test – if your lazy activity doesn’t leave you feeling rejuvenated, it’s time to rethink your approach.
Changing the Mindset Around Laziness
The word “lazy” often carries a negative connotation, but it’s time to shift that mindset. Ask yourself if the old notion of laziness still makes sense for you. Does being productive 100% of the time make you feel good? Drop the self-criticism. Resting isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a power move.
There you have it, my fellow aficionados of all things chill – the not-so-secret sauce to a balanced mind and body. So, let’s toast to laziness, the unsung hero of mental and physical well-being. Embrace the art of doing absolutely nothing, guilt-free. Your mind, body, and that to-do list will thank you.