Recreation … what does it mean? Why is it important? Taking time for recreation is often named as a necessary and highly valuable part of a healthy life.
One definition is “an activity of discretionary time.” Some synonyms found in Merriam-Webster are “delight, distraction, entertainment and fun.” Discussions with friends suggest it has a role in affirming life and energizing us … pretty heady stuff. And yet, too often in our busy lives, we leave recreation for last. It is an afterthought. Conversely, it is a once-a-year, highly choreographed event; saved for, and then over far too quickly. A vacation can recharge us and be delightful. It often leaves us with lifelong memories we revisit over and over. But, if recreation is so valuable, shouldn’t there be a way to incorporate it into something more than a once-a-year activity?
In the past I have used this space to encourage us all to slow down, to go with the flow, to embrace the now. This month I implore you to go farther, and to choose to be delighted in small, regular and personal ways.
We know that the most profound way for children to learn is through play. Could this not be true for all of us? When we play we let go of worries, we give our spirit time to replenish, restore and refresh. It is vital work, not just for children, but for all of us. And it doesn’t require plane tickets and hotel reservations. It does, however, require a change of mindset, a willingness to let go.
Even 10 minutes spent in recreation can be greatly refreshing. A walk in the woods, or even around the block, playing in the snow, or watching the river go by can all be recreational activities. The key is to let your mind move away from your everyday work and responsibilities. What makes you feel refreshed? What brings a smile to your face? These are questions to ask yourself as you look for recreational activities that are best suited for you. Does going for a run bring you joy? Or would you rather sit quietly by the fire? The what doesn’t matter nearly as much as the how.
Can you leave behind the deadline at work? Can you trust that the kids are ok? Can you invite them to join you? Or, can you join them? Kids are experts at this; what can we learn from them?
There are no set answers for the best recreational activity—it is all about what is best for you, and respecting what is best for the person next to you. Knowing what you love, and taking time for it, is the key. Look for the activities that delight you: the intrinsic ones like nature and human connection, as well as the personal ones that are individual and unique to you. Then take the time to make them a regular part of your life. Let your mind wander. Turn off your screen, turn toward the basic, authentic things that make you smile, and feel the joy of recreation! May your holidays be filled with delight!
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.