Take Time for Recreational Activities To Improve Your Health and Well-Being

Occupational TherapyMany of us lead such busy lives that we have forgotten the importance of fun and recreational activities. One founding belief of occupational therapy is that people achieve their full potential when their lives contain a balance of work, rest and play. Leisure activities are typically last in our list of daily activities. If we even have leisure on our “to do” list, it is often forgotten or pushed off for a rainy day. 

Many people are not even able to identify what their personal leisure activities are. Leisure could be seen as those activities that are done when on vacation or during free-time.

Leisure can also be disguised as play. Play produces spontaneous enjoyment and fun that is free from competition or expectation. Children and pets are the experts at play, so paying attention to them can help us learn the characteristics that are innate to play. Play can involve socialization, chance (freedom from control over outcome), flow (loss of sense of time), fantasy or imagination, creativity and exploration. For children, play is their “work,” and for adults play can be a refreshing break from the ordinary life or structured routine that takes energy from us. Play can restore our energy and life-force.

How do we begin to develop a healthy appreciation of the importance of leisure? Here are some tips to try and identify what your interests are:       

  • Answer these questions:
    • What would I like to do with a spare hour that does not involve work, housework or sleep?
    • What is something I would like to do but never have?
    • What would my day look like with two extra hours in it?
    • What activity do I feel revives me and gives me enjoyment or pleasure?
  • Download an Interest Checklist to discover a new leisure activity.
  • Make time to do things –  don’t wait to find time to do things.
  • Carve time into your schedule intentionally to experience “play.”
  • Skip coffee one day a week and start a “leisure fund.”
  • Practice taking two hours each weekend to spend on yourself to “play.”
  • Contact an occupational therapist to inquire as to how to develop leisure or play skills.

Most of us would experience less overall stress and distress if we participate in some type of leisure activity every day.  Americans busy themselves to the point of exhaustion, which is taking a toll on both our physical and emotional health. If we all paid closer attention to our innate craving for leisure and play, we might feel and live more balanced, productive and “whole-istic” lives.

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