Leisure. What’s that? -some of you may ask. If that’s you, possibly you need this post more than most. To answer the question, leisure (or pleasure), is where you stop doing what you have to do and take time out to do what you want to do. (Desires of your heart)
What are the desires of your heart?
What delights you? That which rejuvenates and uplifts you. Delight comes from truly experiencing the world and it goes hand in hand with leisure activities.
Leisure can mean playing sport, meeting with friends, good food, reading… basically, anything that fills your well and makes you feel good about life again.
God’s pleasures for us
All good things come from God, He calls them blessings and rest is one of them. He puts in our hearts the desire to create joy, so it is important that we follow them. I refer to healthy desires, not those that are harmful to others and distance us from God. Know the difference.
Finding time for leisure
Taking time out is essential. You may think you can’t afford it, but with some careful tweaking and planning, it is possible. There are days and seasons when you are so busy, you barely have time to eat. All the more reason to take advantage of leisure time and recharge those batteries when you can.
Guilt is another reason we avoid taking that desperately needed break, especially as a single mom when you are trying to play the role of both parents. For more about self-care and looking after our own needs without being selfish, read this post.
If you don’t take time out, it will catch up with you. Like the mommy who left her baby in its carry chair at the Pharmacy. She only realized when she arrived home with 5 children instead of 6. True story : )
Too much work without a break makes us forgetful, ratty, irritable and generally not nice people. The long term effects of prolonged stress without rest are even more devastating and therefore leisure is crucial for vibrant health.
Enjoy the small pleasures
When I had a job that involved a lot of traveling and running around, to come home and put my feet up with a cup of tea, was the highlight of my day. That half hour fuelled me for the rest of the evening. Even a small pleasure can make a big difference.
Make meal times a time of connecting and laughing, instead of a chore to be endured. Take that cup of tea or whatever out into the garden and listen for the birds. (Without your cell phone) Find beauty in your surroundings.
Music and candles are always good for the soul.
There is a wonderful Danish word, “Hygge”, pronounced hue-guh, which means a cozy, charming or special moment, with feelings of wellness or contentment. Isn’t that too adorable? No wonder Denmark is considered one of the best places to live in the world, for the quality of life.
Look for opportunities to create “hygge” moments.
Be mindful of how you spend your spare time
TV may be relaxing but too much is counterproductive. As are Computer games. Technology can be an addiction which leads to hours of mindless wasted hours. In the end, we feel irritated rather than rested, because we have done nothing constructive and all those chores are still waiting to be done. The pleasure part is short-lived and does not have the effect of being rejuvenating. Be careful of what you justify as relaxation.
It is ok to binge on Netflix once in a while as long as it does not become a habit. There is something special about cuddling up on rainy days in your “hyggebukser”-yes there is apparently a name for that pair of pants you will only wear in the house, or to Walmart.
Does your leisure activity give you a sense of accomplishment? It is defeating the object if you feel guilty or irritated with yourself afterward. Avoid negative activities that drain your energy and pull you away from God.
A good nights sleep also falls under the banner of leisure. Our bodies and minds need the time to replenish. If you are feeling exhausted every day, possibly your body is in need of some good sleep. There are strategies that you can put in place to maximize your z’s.
Some good bedtime habits
- A big no-no is TV or technology of any kind, just before bedtime, except for Kindles which I believe are designed with a different screen. Otherwise, the screen stimulates your brain at the very time that you want it to be shutting down. This goes for kids too, especially kids in fact. If you are struggling to get kids to sleep at a reasonable time, limit tech time.
- Try and get your own body into a routine. They say 7-8 hours is a good amount of sleep, so aim for this. Our body clocks do have different rhythms and perhaps you don’t need quite as much, or more. Figure out a routine that works for you and adhere to it.
- It may be difficult to fall asleep, especially if your mind is too active. A cup of chamomile tea just before bed does wonders. Resort to sedatives only if absolutely necessary and under doctor supervision. Sleep deprivation can be debilitating, so I understand that in some cases it may be the only option. Try all other solutions first though because sedatives also come with a string of side effects. Often it can mean a bit of planning and discipline to solve or at least minimize the problem.
- Reading at night also helps some people.
- Avoid bright lights in the room.
- Earplugs are wonderful if there is a lot of noise around.
- Don’t drink too much fluid close to bed time.
- Alcohol may put you to sleep but can have the opposite effect in the early hours of the morning.
- Diet: Too much sugar, red meat and carbs can also keep you awake.
If you don’t have a specific interest yet, consider trying some new things. There are so many hobbies available to us today.
Uncover those desires in your heart and find what really fuels your passion. Unleashing your creative spirit can be immensely therapeutic and relaxing. Who knows? It may even develop into a job you love.
The image above was taken on our honeymoon. Please note who is doing all the work ; )
Plan to make it happen
Plan your downtime
I know it is not always possible, but sometimes a bit of planning can produce amazing results. Don’t let fear or guilt stand in the way. You owe it to yourself to take a few strategic breaks.
Plan your weekends
A drive out of town does wonders, even if it’s just for the day. Get outdoors. Enjoy the fresh air. If you live in the country, perhaps you need a trip into town. I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s all about a change of scenery and breaks in routine to get your mind stimulated in different ways.
Plan that dream holiday
It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip overseas to be mind-blowing. Try local. Focus on creating the memories and getting your mind off home chores, work and routine.
I didn’t realize it, but the Travel and Leisure show is on this weekend in Johannesburg. It is one of the highlights of my year. We trundle off, fight queues and crowds, to collect piles of pamphlets, which never get looked at again. We don’t go to 99% of the places, but there is something rewarding about the dreaming and planning. We arrive home, motivated to look at options and have something to work towards.
Acts of kindness
You may not think this is considered relaxation, but helping others has the effect of distracting your thoughts from your own situation. I am seeing more articles lately, on animal shelters that encourage people to volunteer to cuddle a pet. I’m not sure who benefits more from this, the volunteer or the kitty/pooch.
Doing a good deed by helping others can give us a great sense of purpose and upliftment. Don’t do it if it seems like a chore and yet another duty to tick off your list. If you do have some time on your hands though, look for some ways to lend a hand.
Stolen moments, hygge, outings and weekend getaways are all necessary and excellent ways to grab some downtime, but they are all temporary respites. Even the euphoric effects of a dream holiday are short lived.
A more deep-seated and prolonged stress will need more than a cup of tea and a day out. This may require intervention on a different level, but for many of us, a few lifestyle changes can make a difference to our quality of life.
Of course, genuine rest and peace can only come from God. We will certainly go into that in some detail one day.
Meanwhile, we can do our bit in the physical, in order to lead fulfilled lives. All the aspects we cover in the checkmeout_challenge, need to be in harmony so that we can truly enjoy our leisure times. No area of our lives is in isolation and leisure is only one of them.
When our souls (Gods will and desires for us) our bodies (physical action) and mind (free from stress and worry) are all aligned, we find true rest.
Below you will find the questions on leisure from the Checkmeout Challenge. Go ahead and see how rested you are. Not sure what the checkmeout challenge is all about, follow the link here to find out more.
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