Important things you need to know about: The Benefits of Leisure, recreation and Play
By Alex Lorimer-Carlin
EPC Student Intern
You have been asked to isolate at home as much as possible over the past few months, and potentially even work and educate from home. “Pandemic fatigue” is a developing phenomenon that many of us are currently experiencing. You may be burning out about the pandemic with continued attention paid to your surroundings, social distance, masks, and other people. This can lead to a build-up of frustration, sadness, feelings of being trapped, living at work, and missing connection. Amidst all these restrictions and adjustments you may not have been able to engage in your usual leisure and recreation activities, which may have left you without an outlet to manage stress, anxiety, and find connection. We are suffering with an inability to play.
Recreational and leisure activities are necessary to take breaks from work and life chores, to create a balance in life, to allow your mind to wander and disconnect from the demands of daily life. Taking part in leisure and recreation activities help to manage stress, promote overall wellness, and creates time to spend connect with family, children, and friends. Play is a natural state to all of us, at any age. We often think we have grown out of play in childhood, but in reality we still need to play. It is good for overall health and wellness.
So how do we play and get the benefits of leisure and recreation?
Right now, our news feeds are filled with tough stories and news about our current difficult circumstances. Unfortunately with the advancements in technology, it’s hard to get away from. Having a steady stream of negative (specifically COVID-related) information can induce a “fight or flight” response (Garfin et al., 2020), which creates stress and feeling ‘on edge’. Pick one or two times designated for media intake a day, and try to avoid it otherwise. You’ll find you have more time for self-reflection, and will live more in the present moment with those around you.
Create time and practice relaxation. Take naps. Get enough good sleep. With adequate rest, we improve our memory retention, help possible mental health disorders (lessening of anxious/depressive symptoms, etc.), reduce our blood pressure and help us metabolize our foods better (Rosenburg, 2019). Adequate rest increases your ability to bounce back from difficult things and fills your resources to help you cope.
3) Create time for Play
Play is part of every person’s DNA. Through play we get in touch with our fun side, our ability to create and explore, curiosity, and one way we connect with others. Children and even animals know this instinctively. We still need play as part of a healthy adult life. Play reduces stress, allows us to disconnect from daily tasks, and allows enjoyment, satisfaction, and pleasure. It also helps connect us to others. Play can be structured such as a team sport or activity. It can also be unstructured, like joking around with someone, board games, or hide and seek. Your schedule won’t create it for you, we each need to set aside time everyday or few days to play.
4) Engage in and discover leisure activities
Leisure is the use of free time for enjoyment. I like to think of leisure time as ‘puttering’ or activities that allow my mind to wander pleasantly. Lesiure and recreation activities are personal. If you can’t engage in your usual activities, try on some new ones. Ask your friends and family what their current leisure activities are. Maybe its physical activities (running and badminton are my current fav’s), puzzles, gardening, making bread, knitting, woodworking, games, or reading. The list is endless. The goal is time away from tasks and being able to disconnect and enjoy. That’s leisure.
Even though we are all living in difficult times, we still need to care for ourselves and engage in leisure, and play. It will help you create some balance, reduce stress, build resilency, and create enjoyment in your day and life.
– Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2020). The novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) outbreak: Amplification of public health consequences by media exposure. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000875
– Rosenberg, D. (2020, June 26). Sleep Deprivation: 10 Long-Term Effects: Blog: Sleep Health. Retrieved July 25, 2020, from https://www.sleephealthsolutionsohio.com/blog/10-effects-of-long-term-sleep-deprivation/