Several years ago, I started a new job. Being as it was a brand-new start-up office and I was the only person hired at that point, I quickly threw myself into organizing, making connections, and starting services. My supervisor, who was a recreation therapist, asked me one day what I was going to do over the weekend. I recited cleaning, work around the house, researching things about the office, and preparing for a class I was teaching.
Her face changed. It wasn’t a look of, “Gee- how wonderful to have a work-oriented person here!” She again asked me what I was going to do over the weekend. I looked back at her puzzled. I had just told her. Then, she said, “You need to take some time for recreation. Do something fun for yourself. Something you enjoy. What about your hobbies? What about going outside?”
I wasn’t sure what to think. Part of me felt as if the school principal had just reprimanded me. Part of me felt like I knew what I was doing and I was being productive and I enjoyed what I did. Nevertheless, I did as she told me, and that weekend, I did something fun. She asked me about it on Monday.
But over time, I learned exactly what she meant.
Recreation isn’t optional in our lives. It’s not meant to be something at the bottom of our to-do list, that we can only engage in if we get everything else done. It’s not for people who have nothing better to do. It’s not for people who don’t have as many responsibilities as the next person.
Part of managing stress is recreation. Doing things we enjoy adds a smile to our face while releasing the frustration we have hidden from the world that day. Instead of holding everything in like a volcano waiting for the slightest movement to start the explosion of furry, participating in recreational activities helps us to keep our stress levels at a constant level.
As women, we’re programmed to be helpful to others. We’re programmed to keep going when we are at our limit. We’re programmed to think of ourselves last. Part of being helpful to others is giving them our best selves. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. But helping them when we’re barely holding our eyes open, we have 15 things flowing through our mind during our conversation with them, and we’re fantasizing about sleeping or sitting in a porch swing without a phone ringing isn’t really behing helpful to that person.
Recreation allows us to care for ourselves, to regroup, to let up pent up tensions, and to feel worthy of such opportunities. It also allows us to be more productive when we are completing chores at home or tasks at work. Truly.
So what are you doing this weekend for fun?