In regards to yesterday’s discussion—which highlights the importance of moving your body regularly—I do want to make one thing very clear…
All work and no play is a hazard to your mental health.
In other words, dedicated leisure time does a mind—and a body—a whole lot of good. (As with most things, there’s a delicate balance.)
Now, most people probably don’t need much of an arm twist to let loose and enjoy themselves. But as a native New Yorker, I’ve certainly met my fair share of workaholics.
And if you happen to be one yourself, then this study is for you…
“Wasted” time gets to your head
As part of a series of recent studies, researchers looked at the pervasive modern belief that productivity is king—and fun activities are a waste of time. Here are some noteworthy findings…
One study of nearly 200 college students found that the more inclined participants were to believe that leisure is wasteful, the less they enjoyed “fun” activities. The worst part? This was true for both active and passive, and both social and solitary, leisure activities.
Meaning that exercising and meditation were as “unenjoyable” to these participants as watching TV and hanging out with friends. Not only that, but the more wasteful they thought that activity was, the lower their happiness… and the higher their levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.
But the bad news doesn’t stop there: In another study, college students were “assigned” to view a short funny cat video in the middle of the experiment. Some were even given articles on leisure as a potent stress-reliever beforehand.
Yet still, surveys showed that the built-in break was less enjoyable to people who didn’t believe that it was a productive use of time. This suggests that ideas about what constitutes a worthwhile and valuable activity aren’t so easy to change.
Playing really works
Fortunately, there is some hope in these findings, too. One study showed that even skeptical subjects could embrace fun activities if they believed them to be part of a larger, more productive goal.
This online study, performed back in 2019, asked 300 online subjects how they celebrated Halloween, and to rate their enjoyment of it. Predictably, those who believed leisure was wasteful viewed parties and other strictly “fun” activities as less enjoyable.
But there was a catch: When those same people participated in fun activities with a purpose—like taking your kids or grandkids trick or treating—their enjoyment of those activities didn’t suffer one bit.
In other words, for the type A personalities among us, adding a little responsibility into the mix could help to make fun… well… fun again.
One way to do this is by giving your leisure time a larger goal—whether it’s dancing to ease menopause symptoms, or playing board games to keep your brain sharp. (I’ll share more ways to do this in upcoming issues of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. So if you’re not already a subscriber, consider becoming one today!)
Because as we learned here today, when it comes to staying healthy—mentally or physically—”playing” really does work.
“Think leisure is a waste? That may not bode well for your mental health.” Science Daily, 08/23/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210823104334.htm)