5 Messages Your Laziness Is Telling You


5 Messages Your Laziness Is Telling You


You’re not lazy—you might just be in a state of functional freeze. Learn what your so-called laziness might be signaling.

What does it mean to be lazy? We usually use the term in a derogatory way and are likeliest to use it against ourselves rather than anyone else. But laziness is a concept that implies that we’re not doing something we should be. What if our laziness actually has a message for us? Here are five messages your laziness might be trying to communicate to you.

You’re Exhausted

Most of the time, “laziness” looks like rest. We can’t get off the couch, we don’t get as much done as we want to, or we spend the day doing simple tasks that don’t take that much energy. We live in a culture that is highly stressful and centers productivity. Many of us also experience workplace environments where people look down on taking time off, so we don’t utilize our vacation time. It’s easy to feel exhausted (not to mention guilty) in a culture like this and not even notice it.

What if you took the shame and judgment away from the idea of being “lazy” and actually took some time to rest? Is it possible you’d be rejuvenated and ready for action once you’ve actually gotten the rest you need?

You’re Overwhelmed

Laziness can sometimes look like procrastination. We might be scrolling Instagram, for example, instead of getting that project done that we know is due soon. Doomscrolling can actually be an attempt to soothe a nervous system that is overwhelmed and unable to face the stressors that are arising. Procrastination is a stress response.

If it turns out that your laziness is due to a feeling of overwhelm, we may need to take a good look at what’s overwhelming us and how we can manage it. Do we need help getting something done? Are we having an emotional reaction that’s not related to the project we need to get done? If we break the project down into smaller tasks, does it feel easier to get the thing done?

You’re in Functional Freeze

Freeze is an instinctual survival state that arises under extreme stress. It essentially paralyzes our functions—think of an animal playing dead in order to escape a predator. If we have unresolved trauma or major stressors, we don’t feel we have the resources to handle, our nervous systems may decide that we’re unsafe and shut us down. It can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access motivation or creative thought in a frozen state. Some of us feel this way so often it becomes functional freeze—we get through the day, struggling through our shut-down state. This is where we might start to look “lazy.”

If this is the case, our bodies and nervous systems are trying to protect us from something. Are you dealing with something unsafe or scary for you on a day-to-day basis? Or is there something that happened in your past that’s still bothering you, still needing to be processed and released from your body? Look at your choices, get yourself safe, and find a good counselor to help you process any lingering trauma.

You’re Depressed

Depression can be a natural outflow of functional freeze, and there’s an argument to be made that they are essentially the same thing. But if our laziness comes from a place of not really wanting to do anything because we don’t get any pleasure out of it, we may want to consider what’s going on with our mood. Depression can sometimes be caused by unconsciously avoiding feeling deeper emotions like anger or grief. We may need help accessing these emotions again and allowing them to flow so they can teach us how to live a more fulfilling life.

There may also be changes that need to be made in our lives so that we can come back to pleasure, joy, and connection. Finding personal power and agency wherever possible can serve as a reminder that there are other options for us and help us to shift out of depression.

You’re in a Natural Ebb

In a culture that demands constant progress and action, we rarely pause to consider the natural ebbs and flows of energy in our lives. It’s natural to have times when we are lower energy and times when we have more vim and vigor to attack the problems ahead. When we never allow for those natural ebbs, we will tend to exhaust our resources and get stuck in a cycle of exhaustion, depression, or any of the other examples above. Giving ourselves permission to rest fully in some of these natural ebbs can help us access the natural flows that come afterwards. Here are the most common examples:

Menstrual cycle: During the first five days of the menstrual cycle, when bleeding occurs, we are in a natural ebb when our bodies need more rest and sleep. The follicular phase, from days 6-14 or so, is the time where we will tend to have more energy.

Moon phases: The new moon, along with the day before and after it, is a time of darkness, introspection, and rest. The waxing moon is a time for action and energy.

Seasons: It’s natural to have less energy and need more sleep in the wintertime, when the days are shorter and there’s more cold and darkness. Springtime is best for starting new projects and jumpstarting our lives.

If you allow yourself to rest during the natural ebbs when you need it most and allow these moments of “laziness” to tell you something, you may find you’re more able to connect with the joy and flow of life all the more.

So, let’s stop judging our “laziness” and instead ask our bodies what they are trying to tell us when we feel ourselves slowing down and needing to be more still. Don’t forget, as Tricia Hersey writes in her book Rest is Resistance, that the concept of laziness is a tool of the oppressor.

Explore five types of rest that aren't just sleep.


Yoga and mindfulness can be tools to living a richer, more meaningful life. Explore with Julie...
Read More

Continue your journey

5 Messages Your Laziness Is Telling You

Enjoying this content?

Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.