Do You Need More Leisure Time?

Does your life feel out of balance or not as meaningful as you would like? With summer approaching in a few weeks, you may be looking at how you can do more fun things outdoors and/or with others.

How would you benefit from more leisure time? Having time for leisure is a basic human need.

Leisure can be defined as an opportunity for engagement and/or meaning in personally satisfying activities outside of your work or career. 

Studies tell us the choices you make in how you spend your leisure time can increase your level of happiness and enrich your participation in the flow of life. It can give you more opportunities to socialize and build relationships. According to Martin Seligman, a leading authority on happiness research, leisure time can also make your life more meaningful.

Life without leisure depletes you quickly because the rhythm of life is broken. When you are in a "crunch" time, you have to stick with something to meet a deadline. Whether this time period is short (a few days) or long (several months), it takes perseverance and good self-management skills to get through it. 
During crunch times, you look forward to the time you can balance work and leisure again to re-establish the rhythm that is necessary for your good health. For lots of people, it might be playing golf, baseball, biking, or grilling and inviting friends over. For me, it is a mixture of gardening, kayaking, hiking, possible trips with grandchildren, and connecting with other family and friends.

Leisure activities are a way of recharging your brain. Since your brain thrives on variety and challenge, leisure time gives you the opportunity to do different things from your normal routine. This might meaning learning an outdoor sport or activity where you can control the amount of challenge you want by choosing things that you like and have time to do.

Leisure activities also:

  • Recharge your body
  • Stimulate your mind
  • Enrich your spirit

The many benefits of leisure:

  • Allow you to connect with others and reflect on the meaning of your life
  • Help you live your dreams and make important contributions that make your life meaningful
  • Help you appreciate the present moment and beauty around you
  • Increase motivation, concentration, self-confidence, and creativity
  • Increase happiness, gratefulness, and serenity

All leisure activities are not the same. Some are active and increase flow, i.e. games, sports, hobbies, socializing, and reading an interesting book. Other leisure activities are passive and can create apathy and depression because they do not require much skill and are not challenging, i.e. routinely watching television more than three hours a day and negative thinking.

It is assumed that it takes no skill to enjoy free time. However, evidence suggests that for some people free time can be more difficult to enjoy than work. How to use leisure effectively can be stressful when you are not use to having it. Some people get anxious when there is unstructured time to fill. If this happens to you, give yourself permission to learn how to enjoy your free time. Break the time into smaller time frames at first until you are more comfortable.

The choices you make in how to spend your leisure time have the potential to recharge you. They can mean:

  • Active social interaction and/or spectator participation
  • Finding ways for creative expression
  • Intentional intellectual stimulation
  • Appropriate physical activity
  • Learning activities which expand your perspective

Begin by deciding what benefits of leisure are important to you. Then choose activities that will match your values and the benefits you desire. Ideally, set aside time daily to do a leisure activity. If the activity is more time consuming, save time in your weekly schedule to do the things you will benefit the most from doing.

The choice is yours. Enjoy!

Until next time,





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