Leisure is frequently regarded as spending time on activities that are not compulsory. From the moment we wake up, our day is defined by the things we have to do. Your morning routine is a reflection of the things that must be accomplished right away to set you up for the rest of your day. There are showers to be had, teeth to be brushed and children to be dressed. We spend time driving to full-time jobs, working, and then driving home. There are household chores to be done and errands to be run. The average American spends 1.25 hours a day just eating and drinking.
If your life is anything like the picture above, you know what a struggle it can be to find time to relax. To fight stress, it is important to find time for leisure activities. Helping you maximize your free time is our primary goal at Country Leisure, so we’ve come up with easy ways to find leisure every day. In a recent study titled Leisure and Subjective Well-Being: A Model of Psychological Mechanisms as Mediating Factors, researchers found 5 ways that leisure contributes to your well-being.
We’ve all been to that point where stepping away for a minute helps you come back and tackle a problem. Many struggle to check stress at the door when they leave work, allowing the tension to follow them like a personal rain cloud. One of the most therapeutic benefits of leisure is getting your mind off of things. Do you find yourself bringing stress home? Try connecting a stress reducing action with a physical movement in your routine. Hum your favorite song as you turn down your street. Think of one thing you’re thankful for as you turn the doorknob to your home. Even a momentary separation can do wonders for the rest of your night.
Autonomy is the ability to make decisions on your own. As we know, things out of our control govern much of our life. Find enjoyment in those things you do control. Activities like drawing allow you to take charge over how things look. Go for a walk in your neighborhood and take a new path. Doing more of what you want is a great way to stockpile motivation to do the less exciting things in life.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell asserts that to achieve mastery in a field, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. Throughout his research of top performers in diverse subjects such as youth hockey players, the Beatles and Bill Gates, 10,000 hours was a recurring theme. Hard work surpasses natural talent. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Likewise, the pursuit of mastery is more important than the achievement of it. Finding something you enjoy doing and then working at it consistently is one of the biggest joys of leisure time. Any skill-based hobby can lead to mastery. Whether you are playing an instrument, learning a language or building with your hands, working towards improvement is a great pursuit.
Many leisure activities encompass meaning. Keeping religious or holiday traditions can help us feel part of a bigger picture. Maybe you find meaning by recycling, gardening or helping to beautify the earth. The impact we have on the ones around us contributes to our sense of meaning as well. Taking your kids to the park or cooking a meal for a friend are simple things you can do for other people. You may have hobbies connected to some deeper sense of meaning like playing card games you played with your family as a child.
Connecting with others is one of the most basic human needs. Leisure activities are often rooted in affiliation. Joining a sports team or club is one of the ways we can make affiliation part of our lives. Attending sporting events, concerts and performances can help us feel connected to complete strangers. Your presence is an expression of common interest. Affiliation is the opposite side of the coin from autonomy. These two elements are equally important, so try to diversify your leisure time to include both. Affiliation doesn’t have to be structured. Surrounding yourself with a group of friends is a great way to spend your free time. We’re partial to lounging by the pool, but there are many ways to make affiliation part of your leisure schedule.
Most leisure activities fall into more than one of these categories. Watching a popular TV show can be detachment-recovery in the moment. It can also be affiliation when you talk about it with friends or coworkers. Cooking can be both mastering a skill and finding meaning by providing for others. However you choose to spend your leisure time, we hope it helps you to unwind and find joy every day.