Today, I had the privilege of addressing some lovely college students about stress, laziness, and how to manage them both. Therefore, I chose to write on the topic after having listened to them complain to me about how their educators don’t understand them, how they stretch themselves thin and still fall short. Get judged and criticized easily.
I have seen students skip class, avoid their educators and miss out on so many things all because they feel they do not fit in. When they make an appearance, they would appear tired, evasive and withdrawn. This doesn’t mean they are lazy. I know this because I have talked with most of them. After speaking with them and listening to their plight, I discovered that laziness wasn’t the right adjective to qualify them. They are simply stressed out and needed someone to talk with, someone who wouldn’t judge them.
Since no one could see that or care enough to find out, they become resentful, vulgar, cold, and withdrawn. They also become disoriented; develop a phobia for school work, classes, and any other social activities. Their phone, social media, drugs, alcohol, becomes their safe haven.
I love my students despite language barriers, ethnicity, and colour. They’ve shown me what it feels to be like them. When they succeed, I get the greatest feeling in the world. Every time I see them stare at me with those lovely eyes, they appear beautiful even though I get to see them every day. They show me different and better ways to love and teach them.
This piece was inspired by them, and I hoped it would speak to another student out there, to all educators, and help them become better versions of themselves.
As a writer, educator, counsellor, and a human being, I don’t believe laziness or stress is something that can be taken lightly by anyone much fewer students in college or in the universities. I have always pointed the need to educate students on the need to manage their stress level and work on their laziness. One cannot talk about laziness without talking about stress. One is a product of the other.
Laziness and stress are words easily identified with everyone and students are not overrated or exempted. Understanding situational and contextual factors that drive human behaviour will help predict if a student is lazy or stressed.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines lazy as not easily aroused to activity. It suggests declination to work or to take the trouble. Laziness is a habit rather than a mental health issue. It may reflect a lack of self-esteem, a lack of positive recognition by others, a lack of discipline stemming from low self-confidence, or a lack of interest in the activity or belief in its efficacy.
According to Wikipedia;
“ Laziness may manifest as procrastination or vacillation. Studies of motivation suggest that laziness may be caused by a decreased level of motivation, which in turn can be caused by over-stimulation or excessive impulses or distractions. These increase the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for reward and pleasure. The more dopamine that is released, the greater intolerance one has for valuing and accepting productive and rewarding action.
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the “stress response”.
Do I believe students are lazy because they skip classes? Do I feel when they procrastinate they are lazy? When it takes a student two months to complete a term paper assignment, does it mean the student is lazy? I think not. I agree with Wikipedia that laziness may manifest as procrastination or vacillation, it never implied that it is a definite product of procrastination. Understanding the factors or barriers responsible would help us deduce the student’s behavioural pattern and if or she was lazying or just stressed.
There are few similarities between stress and laziness;
- They both strive in the same environment
- When you’re stressed, you can be mistaken to be lazy
- When you often procrastinate, you’ll become lazy
Having had the privilege to teach both young and adult students, I have seen them skip tests, fail to do their assignments, don’t show up for any presentation, and of course call in sick during lectures. They find it difficult to do anything meaningful at the right time.
I got tired of reprimanding them and decided to research and find out the contextual and situational factors that drive their behaviour. There are situations that act as barriers to student’s intelligence, and efficiency — situations like family background and conflicts, hunger, poverty, peer-pressure, social norms, low self- esteem, etcetera.
You cannot explain a student’s behaviour without examining the context, societal norm, and situational factors like I earlier stated. When we have a better understanding of the situations or barriers that affect a student’s intellect, then we can recommend healthy solutions and be less judgemental.
Symptoms of laziness
- Feeling the need to sleep rather than work
- Pushing off work to another
- Not willing to do any work without force
- Always complaining of health issues even when there are none
- Typing slowly, with one finger at a time because your other hand is currently busy being comfortable and idle in its position
- You spend too much time watching TV, gossiping, on social media, rather than reading and doing your school work
- Putting off doing any work until the last minute with no tangible reasons
- You feel you are always busy and yet complain of being bored at the same time.
We’ve all identified with one or two of these symptoms listed, but if you want to achieve the goals you’ve set and be prepared for a better future, then you’ve got to get rid of your lazy habits. As a student, if you’ve identified any of these traits in your lifestyle, get rid of it. Nobody is going to do them for you. Find motivation to be better for yourself.
Symptoms of stress
The symptoms and signs of stress vary from one person to another. Most common symptoms are;
- Reading in a noisy environment on a daily basis
- A constant headache
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Continuous use of drugs and alcohol
- Easily irritated
- Terrified of anything and everything
When stressed the possibility of being lazy is 99 per cent. When my heart begins to pound, my breath quickens, muscles get tensed, and then I start to sweat profusely, I know I’m stressed up. It is a clear indication that I need to stop everything I’m doing and just breathe.
As a student, if you notice any of these symptoms, please look for a quiet space and just breathe. Stay away from anything that would add to stress at that moment. The National Health Service, UK has provided suggestions on effective ways to deal with stress.
Once your body is always stressed, it stays in a state of high alert and begins to develop other stress-related symptoms that are not easily identified. That’s not a healthy way to live. If stress is not properly managed it leads to lots of hazards and laziness is one of them.
Few educators and parents consider situational factors, contexts, and barriers before tagging a student as being lazy. They are always fast to demoralize the attitude of students who don’t meet up academically or socially, thereby considering them responsible for their problems.
Not until you understand what it feels like to be that student, the small details that make them, the challenges they face, the traumas that define their lives, you have no right to impose general and rigorous expectations on their behaviours. Some are doing the best they can of their situations, and others just need help. Find out how you can help them do better rather than judge them.
I’ve seen students who have a lot they struggle with, yet they have the time to care for others. They still tend to family responsibilities and other social requirements. What the truth or fact is, when someone’s attitude or personality doesn’t make sense to you, you have failed to understand them, and that’s one major attribute that’s lacking in our world today.
When a student is crippled with fear or anxiety to do what they are supposed to do, people term them as procrastinators, weaklings and lazy bumps. This is not always the case. The pressure and anxiety attached to getting a new project done can worsen the stress level of any student, thereby making them appear lazy.
Most students with barriers and limitations are not always treated with kindness and empathy. No matter how the students plead, their voices are often silenced with sexual assaults from the male folks, intimidations from the female folks, and cruel words from mates. They feel nothing but anger and resentment towards everyone and anything.
It is morally wrong for an educator to demoralize any student who fails to meet up with their academic duties. It is wrong for them to be hostile to students that they are supposed to serve because they feel they are superior. I know educators pride themselves as disciplinarians and professionals in their area of speciality, but they shouldn’t forget that they are not only there to exhibit their professionalism but also to serve and give back to their communities and the world at large. Men are women like us shape societies.
“…there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ― Christopher McCandless.
There are external factors that are responsible for a student’s behaviour. It is your job to help them get through their struggles, accommodate their weakness and in turn see if they will not regain their confidence in life.
If reading for three hours isn’t working, read for one hour. Find other reading methods that can work for you. Read in a less noisy environment. Avoid negative energies and people around you. Divide massive projects into smaller bits. Try working at your pace but be consistent and diligent. Create a workable to-do list.
To all educators, create a conducive and enabling environment that would enable your students to approach you and discuss with you what’s bothering them. Use the andragogy system of teaching in your class.
When anxious, talk to someone who listens and understands. Take a walk in the cool of the evening and just breathe. Remember that the person you need to speak to doesn’t have to be everybody. You don’t need everybody.
Terrified? It’s alright to feel scared but rather than run, surrender, and feel the fear. Try holding your breath and releasing them for two minutes. If you feel your body become tense, don’t panic. Continue it until you trigger your body’s natural calm response, you will move through fear with greater ease.
Create a resting plan that should include the following;
- Sumptuous breakfast (I know… Students always need money, it’s not an everyday thing. So, please breathe easy)
- Reading books
- Watching movies
- Taking nap
- Playing games (outdoor or indoor games)
- Going for a walk
- Draw something
- Write down your dreams and visualize them
- Be extraordinary
- Laugh and scream as loud as you can(do this privately)
- Lastly, just breathe.
No one chooses to fail. To my fellow educators, stop looking at a student’s action and see laziness or weakness. There is always a reason why people act the way they do. The fact that you’ve failed to see them doesn’t mean they are not there. There are subtle ways that stress not properly managed can drain you of your drive. Stop stressing yourself out by keeping these students out.
As an educator, do you tag a student who fails to complete a term paper on time as lazy? Do you discredit them when they don’t show up for classes? As a student do you always feel overwhelmed when you have something to do? Are you constantly anxious? Do you feel stressed and yet mistaken for a lazy bump? Stop and think your actions through.
As a student, I understand that it may be hard to make drastic lifestyle changes especially when you have little or no energy nor motivation, but then you’ve got to start somewhere. I hope after reading this article, you will address all underlying issues and become more productive.
I’m hoping that with this article, all educators of all levels will come to understand their student’s individual needs, struggles, strengths, annoyances, challenges, weaknesses, and drive. We’ve got to realize that if any student is not measuring up or struggles with anything, it’s not because they chose to. I need everyone to be more empathic when next we meet someone we’ve termed lazy, weak, or irresponsible.
Let’s remember the words of Jon Krakauer, into the wild- “the joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences”.
Please let’s be human and give the students and ourselves break.