When it comes to finding time to relax, a brief international tour might be in order. Relaxation shows up in different ways around the world:
In France, it’s in the two-hour lunch.
In Latin countries, it’s the midday siesta.
In Japan, it’s wearing only slippers once you come home.
In the Aleutian Islands, it’s carving ice sculptures.
In Italy, it’s having a candlelight dinner and being serenaded by musicians.
In the United States, it’s meeting your team for a softball game.
In Australia, it’s putting another shrimp on the barbie.
What about you? Can you withdraw from the madding crowd? We’re talking about having a life during your life, going whole weekends without doing anything, taking true vacations and spending evenings sitting on the porch, as the late John Lennon said, “watching the wheels go round and round.” These are not lost arts.
If you’ve spent too many anxiety-ridden days in a row, say, 10 years’ worth, or have maintained some monomaniacal quest to fill up every minute with meaningful or worthwhile activities, your task is cut out for you.
Who sped up this merry-go-round?
Author and historian Arnold Toynbee once said, “To be able to fill leisure intelligently is that last product of civilization.” So true! A lot of people have problems doing this. In fact, the concept of leisure time itself is on the rocks. In a sped-up society, it no longer means “total hours minus work hours.” True leisure — when you get to enjoy rewarding activities free from work and preoccupation with work — is vital.
Do the strains of the workweek prompt you to covet your weekends and other days off? If you seek to relax but are hounded by pressures, it’s hard to get legitimate rest, even when you’ve got time to do so. Here are some ideas:
- Give yourself permission to go a whole weekend without reading anything.
- Leave your cellphone at home or in the car more often.
- Collect all the magazines piling up around your house and give them to a retirement community, library or school.
- Schedule that spa treatment you’ve been aching to take.
- Exchange photos with a friend you haven’t seen in years.
- Get schedules of your favorite sports teams and mark your calendar for key games.
- Stroll the grounds of a botanical garden to see the flowers. Let your sense of smell, not your eyes and ears, dominate.
- Attend graduation ceremonies somewhere, even if you don’t know anyone graduating. Recapture what it’s like to complete an important passage in life.
- Pick up fresh flowers at the grocery store or flower shop and display them in your home.
- Walk around your yard barefoot, the way you did as a kid. Feel the grass between your toes. Stick your feet in dirt or a puddle.
- Visit a historical monument and let yourself become immersed in the challenges that people of that era faced.
- Sit in on a free lecture some evening about a topic outside your professional interests.
People can change, you included. What’s more, you can change in positive, dramatic ways. You deserve leisure, and you can vary your activities. It’s within your grasp.
Is leisure time something you enjoy or avoid? Please share your comments in the space below.