By Pooja Malhotra:
Leisure, recreation, entertainment, physical activity and sports seem to become more meaningful especially when they are spontaneous and experimental. Though well meaning parents and teachers may sometimes criticize us for wasting precious time ‘doing nothing’ and indulging in unstructured leisure activities, I believe that ‘time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.’ Spending hours in front of the idiot box or on a social networking site, chatting with a friend or playing your favourite sport may seem to be rather non-productive but in reality, this time spent ‘doing nothing’- hours that we are not formally required to be in college or at work or engaged in chores- are in practice an opportunity for recreation & play, for self learning & development, for a break from monotony & routine, for change and to be the change…
These were the sentiments that echoed in the poll results of a comprehensive survey titled ‘I escape the pressures of everyday life through leisure. Tell us what you feel’ conducted this week on a social media platform. With 82% respondents agreeing that they use leisure activities to escape stress, the poll results are a reflection that for most of us, recreation and leisure is an integral part of our lives – a central element which ensures that we are able to cope up with the pressures of everyday life, including academic stress, parental pressures, work related problems, higher targets to be achieved and more. Most of us cannot deny that a certain kind of relaxing effect prevails when we involve ourselves in leisure activities and the survey results are in accordance with the same.
How one spends this leisure time depends on one’s own discretion but the underlying fact remains that these activities are crucial, especially while encountering challenging tasks or handling difficult situations. Whenever anxiety levels are at an all time high, leisure activities are like that wisp of fresh air in a suffocated room! My idea of ‘doing nothing’ is not an escape route to avoid academics; it is a process of seeking pleasure through a fun-filled activity and then resuming my studies or work.
Leisure is a critical space for our cognitive development and social & emotional well being. It helps us to rise above issues that typically burden our minds and sometimes, this enables us to view things from a fresh perspective. Detailed research into the subject has shown that recreation & sports activities not only help develop a strong sense of identity, but also increase self confidence, self control and self awareness. The significance of leisure in our lives cannot be overlooked; in fact such engagements sometimes offer simple solutions to relatively complex problems. Leisure activities give us an opportunity to entertain ourselves, to relax and enjoy; creating a possibility of personal fulfilment and development as an individual and as member of a larger group. Thus, entertainment & leisure provide the space in which we are able to express ourselves creatively, participate in art and cultural activities and ultimately achieve a broad spectrum of positive outcomes such as dealing with adverse situations effectively, nurturing relationships, acquiring creative skills and much more.
However, a combination of longer study hours, shrivelled non academic spaces and more dedicated academic pursuits are gradually extending into our out-of-school/ off work hours. In traditional societies, our involvement in contributing to the community and voluntarily participating in solving social problems (during our spare time) is still perceived as competing options rather than complementary goals. In reality, our contribution in resolving social issues and fixing problems, in turn enhances our problem solving capacities even at the personal level. Utilizing our limited leisure time is ultimately an issue of how we, the young people of our country, can engage in community life and contribute to all aspects of society while fulfilling our individual dreams & aspirations too….and of course, feel empowered to cope up with the pressures of everyday life!