Is Being Lazy Good For You? 7 Health Benefits To Taking It Easy
It's a cruel fact of present-day society that some of the best activities imaginable — napping on the sofa, finishing a box set in a day, reading a nice book with a cat on your knee who occasionally paws the pages — are considered lazy or unworthwhile. But hold up, is that really the truth? Because I've uncovered scientifically-backed evidence that suggests otherwise. So, is being lazy good for you?
Actually, according to the experts, laziness might in fact be good for your health. Who could ever have imagined that spending a little time away from the desk, or muting your emails for a few hours, or finally allowing yourself to relax might actually benefit your brain and body? Well, you'd better believe it.
However, too many of us consider laziness a fatal flaw, with the UK officially being a nation of over-workers. According to the Independent, "British employees work more than 10 hours overtime every week on average, clocking up 469 hours of extra work a year" — and almost six out of 10 won't get paid for those extra hours. Plus, more than half of British workers don't take their full lunch break, the Metro reports.
A change in attitude to work and relaxation is more than overdue. So here's a list of seven significant health benefits to dialling it down once in a while, because above all, health comes first.
1. You're Less Prone To Burnout
Academic Dr. Isabelle Moreau told the Independent, "We should go for slow work as we go for slow food: quality over quantity, with spare time left to rest and think, not just to produce," adding, "boredom and laziness should be used as a means to regain control over one’s own body and one’s own time."
You see, taking a step back from work can allow you to see yourself as something other than a production machine, and enable you to recognise when you might be on the verge of overworking yourself. Don't punish yourself for a little time spent away from your desk — it's actually pretty essential for your health.
2. Your Blood Pressure Is Lower
Are you committed to your daily afternoon nap on the sofa? Don't suffer the quiet judgement of your roommates a minute longer. According to the Guardian, "dropping off for 45 minutes to an hour helps to lower your blood pressure after a stressful event", as researchers at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania concluded. And it's not just about getting an extra 45 minutes at night, either — the stress-busting, blood pressure-lowering benefits were specifically derived from daytime napping. Tell your sniffy roommates you're not just dozing off — you're actively engaging in improving your health, actually.
3. Your Emotional Intelligence Is Higher
According to Esquire, a study conducted by the University of Oklahoma indicated that watching one of four dramas (their choices were Mad Men, The West Wing, The Good Wife, and Lost) made participants better able to detect other people's emotions in comparison with the participants who watched only scientific documentaries or no TV at all. "The researchers deduced that paying attention to a narrative can help you understand what's going on in another person's head," the publication reported, continuing, "It's called the "theory of mind," what humans do when they try to pick up social cues and predict what another person will do or say next." So next time Netflix snottily asks you if you're still watching after 11 hours, be sure to scream, "I'm expanding my emotional intelligence!" at your laptop screen.
4. You Feel Less Lonely & Have Higher Self-Esteem
Here's another benefit to spending your free time becoming deeply emotionally invested in Rory from Gilmore Girls. According to Time, "research shows that becoming attached to television personalities can actually be healthy." It doesn't actually matter that Issa from Insecure doesn't know she's your new best friend — according to Professor Jennifer Barnes from the University of Oklahoma, "our brains aren’t really built to distinguish between whether a relationship is real or fictional," meaning "these friendships can convey a lot of real-world benefits". Those benefits, Time reported, include "self-esteem boosts, decreased loneliness and more feelings of belonging." Turns out there's nothing lazy about your two-day streaming marathon: you're just working on your self-esteem.
5. Your Skin Is Clearer
Stress has been repeatedly demonstrated to trigger flare-ups of skin conditions, including psoriasis, acne, eczema, and rosacea, as Self reported. That's often due to stress-induced inflammation — "So many [skin conditions] are related to an inappropriate release of inflammatory chemicals," Dr. Richard Fried told the website. So it's not just a lazy move to take some time out and decompress with a face mask — you might actually see the benefits on your skin.
6. You Can Think More Freely
According to a study conducted by Clinical Professor of Leadership Development, Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, taking it easy can work wonders for your creativity. According to Quartzy, which published the study, "psychological research suggests that doing nothing is essential for creativity and innovation, and a person’s seeming inactivity might actually cultivate new insights, inventions or melodies."
7. More Sleep = Better Health
In 2016, TIME reported on a study of 13 countries that indicated "those living in the United Kingdom are the most exhausted", with 37 percent of British people stating that they don't get enough sleep. So here's why you shouldn't be beating yourself up over hitting the hay early or sleeping in late. According to Health, the benefits of sleep include an improved memory, decreased inflammation, a sharper attention span, and less stress. Insufficient sleep, the NHS has reported, can result in health problems including diabetes, a compromised immune system, and heart disease; what's more, "chronic sleep debt" can contribute to depression and anxiety. So go on, hit snooze a few more times.
If the threat of increased blood pressure, heart disease, poorer mental health, or more troubled skin isn't enough to get you onto the couch, it's an indication you urgently need to re-evaluate your relationship with work. Your health is worth prioritising, so fire up your laptop: you've got a long night of Netflix ahead.