Sometimes we just feel like being lazy and chilling on the couch instead of tackling tasks on our to-do lists. While we may feel guilty for not being productive at all times, we shouldn’t because downtime is actually a good thing. “Taking a break to do something you find pleasurable can trigger the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness,” explains psychologist Sanam Hafeez.
These are some of the health benefits to being lazy:
- Enhanced creativity - Resting and relaxing give your brain time to wander and make new connections, Hafeez says, which can foster creativity. Research backs that up, including a 2022 study that finds watching nature videos is associated with the promotion of alpha brain waves, which are linked to relaxation, creativity and daydreaming.
- Heightened brainpower - Another study finds that older adults who spent more time sitting performed well on knowledge-based activities, like vocabulary and reasoning tasks. Researchers conclude it could be thanks to the fact that sedentary time is often used for brain-stimulating activities, like reading and crossword puzzles.
- Stronger relationships - Chilling out and watching shows and movies can help build a connection with others as you talk about what you watch and bond over similar interests. Those discussions can lead to a surge of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding and has anti-stress effects like lowering blood pressure and levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Reduced burnout - Working all the time without taking breaks can lead to burnout, while making time to disconnect from work helps us recharge our mental and emotional energy. That helps us be more productive when we get back to tasks we need to accomplish.
But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Spending too much time being lazy has downsides for our mental and physical health. Not getting enough regular physical activity can lead to heart disease and raise the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. So moderation is key when it comes to downtime, like it is with so many things in life.