If it feels like you have less leisure time and fewer unstructured “play” hours in your life, you’re not alone. Consider these statistics:
- The average married couple works 26 percent longer each year than similar working couples did thirty years ago.
- Leisure time among children ages 12 and under has declined from 40 percent of a child’s day in 1981 to 25 percent of a child’s day in 1997, and about one in four American adults reports no leisure-time physical activity.
- A landmark Surgeon General’s Report identified lack of physical activity, including during leisure, as a serious health threat in the U.S.
The late A. Bartlett Giamatti, former president of Yale University and one-time commissioner of Major League Baseball said, “You can learn more about a society by observing the way they play as opposed to how they work.”
Our high-tech life with its accelerated pace has fostered a culture that seems to be always working, always rushed, always connected to technology. With cell phones interrupting the theater, laptop computers at the beach, internet connections at every café, and home offices that beckon us all hours of the night and day, it’s hard to separate “play” from “work.”
Yet to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate well-being, play is important. In play, we discover pleasure, cultivate feelings of accomplishment, and acquire a sense of belonging.
When we are completely involved in play our overall wellbeing improves.
The benefits of play include:
- Reduced stress
- Improved brain function
- Boosted Creativity
- Improved connection to others
- Living in the present moment
- Increased energy
- Feeling young
If you feel like you don’t have enough play time in your life (and who doesn’t), try these suggestions:
Turn-off. Turn off the television, computer, and cell phone for at least two hours a day.
Let your mind wander. Recall what you used to enjoy doing or what you always wanted to do before we became so technology oriented.
Include others. Invite someone over to play, just like you used to when you were a kid. Nothing planned, nothing structured. Let your play evolve naturally.
Think physical. Go for a walk, ride your bike, rent some skates, play pickleball, go for a swim or a run.
Pretend. Imagine you don’t have any cares or worries. Pretend you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy. Visualize there is no moment other than this.
Any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
Certified Master Coach, Speaker and Author
Founder, Rise Up and Live Wellness
Kelli Risse works with success-driven professional women who want to address their stress and improve their lives.
Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications