The Value of Recreation
Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The “need to do something for recreation” is an essential element of human biology and psychology. Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be “fun“.1
When did you last have fun? When did you last leave the dishes and the laundry and the dusting and the groceries and mowing the lawns and just go and have fun? It’s too easy today to delay having fun and opt instead to get the housework done, get the place tidy and do the jobs. It’s too easy to say “I’ll go to the beach after I’ve done all my housework” or “I’ll go for a fish when we go away for our summer holiday.” Trust me, I’m guilty of it myself! Yet if you read the definition above, even Wikipedia states that recreation is an essential element of human biology and psychology.
How different do you feel internally after having a recreation day instead of a house work day? How differently do the kids behave after having some rec time instead of homework time? Did you know there’s a reason for that? Doing activities that we perceive as fun create an amazing hormonal cascade that results in endorphins washing around our brain and body to make us feel happy, relaxed, calm, to relax our muscles, slow and deepen our breathing, slow our heart rates, lower our blood pressure and lead to more restful sleep. How amazing is that?! Reading through those reactions, that’s almost the complete opposite to what I feel when I see a dirty laundry hamper overflowing and a mountain of dishes in the sink. Of course we have to do those things, but the dishes won’t walk away if we go for a walk. The laundry won’t double if we go outside and jump on the tramp with the kids.
Interestingly with children there is a growing body of research that says the most effective way for them to learn is through play. You may have read an article in the NZ Herald2() lately that mentioned proposed changes to homework to allow children more time to learn in the most effective way – by playing. When children play they are actually developing more neuronal connections than when they are in the classroom3. These increased neuronal connections strengthen their creativity, reasoning, emotional regulation and ability to problem solve. A developing human brain can literally focus better when it has ample time to play, discover and explore and less time to sit and do worksheets and academic projects.
So not only is recreation fun, it’s also vital to developing brains and lowering our stress levels. So next time the sun is out and the kids want you to hop out of the kitchen and go jump on the tramp or kick a ball, seriously consider having a few minutes of fun! Or if you follow Toms lead, get out there and catch a fish! The laundry can wait 🙂
NB: For those that are wondering, that IS Mila, but more importantly: the Snapper measured 77cm and weighed just over 14 pounds, was caught by Tom and was delicious!