Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 18 September 2011





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The downside of leisure activities

Some of us find it difficult to balance work, family obligations and leisure activities. Nobody can work all the time however much they are paid. We are compelled to work because we need money to exist. The necessity of money is felt today more than in the past. In most households husband and wife have to work to make ends meet. The husband's salary or income alone is insufficient for numerous expenses.

When only men used to work in the past, women had to look after the home-front. The gender roles have undergone a sea change today. As more women enter the workforce, the boundaries between men and women are getting blurred. However, working husbands and wives now face a different set of problems: How should they balance various roles in life?

Technology has made our lives much more comfortable than in the past. The days when the housewife had to pound paddy, draw water from the well and cook in a kitchen full of smoke are gradually disappearing. Washing machines, pressure cookers, gas, electric and microwave ovens have made cooking less cumbersome. However, with all such innovations, husbands and wives still complain that they have no time for leisure and recreation.


Leisure does not mean wasting time doing nothing. People engage in many leisure activities. The question arises whether watching television or listening to the radio are meaningful activities. We can do some other work while listening to the radio. However,it is not possible to do anything else while watching television. Most of us have become addicted to watching television so much so that we have become couch potatoes. Research suggests that sedentary activities such as watching television do not provide us with a respite or relaxation.

Learning to play a musical instrument can be satisfying to the body and liberating

Outdoor activities such as gardening, taking photographs of wild animals or birds and brisk walking early in the morning or evening are more revitalising than sitting in front of the idiot box. Those who watch too much television or chat for a long time on mobile phones tend to be more depressed than those who go out and play.

Body and soul

There are many leisure activities we can choose. Most busy people such as doctors, engineers and accountants turn to music, painting and even yoga exercises. Learning to play a musical instrument can be both satisfying to the body and liberating to the soul. Painting too gives the practitioner enormous powers of concentration and a sense of well-being. The other leisure activities include cycling, swimming, collecting stamps and birdwatching.

During the Literary Month we can cultivate the reading habit which is fast disappearing. Today we do not see youngsters carrying books or reading them while travelling. Most of them are preoccupied with their mobile phones and listening to recorded music using earphones. Although mobile phones have their legitimate use in our life, we must not be slaves to such technological innovations. Those who really value the reading habit will never switch over to mobile phones for relaxation.

Surfing the Internet is the latest fad in the world of leisure. The Internet helps us to contact our friends and relatives through E-mail and chat rooms. We can also play various games and listen to music. All this is good as leisure activities if done with some restraint. Most people get addicted to the Internet and completely give up outdoor activities.


Travel is perhaps one of the best ways to spend our leisure. Except on rare occasions we do not travel long distances to meet our friends and relatives. We rely on the mobile phone and the Internet to be in touch with them. It is tragic that there are many Sri Lankans who have not visited remote but beautiful places in the island. They see dazzling waterfalls, fauna and flora only on the small screen.

The importance of engaging in some type of sport such as cricket, tennis or swimming need not be overemphasized. Those who have no serious physical ailments should be able to engage in any of those sports. Those who cannot do so, can turn to indoor games such as table tennis, scrabble or chess.

Unknown to many of us, helping others is a fine way of spending our leisure. There is a crying need to help homes for the aged, hospitals, rural schools, physically and mentally retarded people. Some people do not need financial help but they seek psychological counselling. There are many voluntary organisations through which we can help the needy.


There are many benefits of leisure activities. The major benefit is that we get self-satisfaction by balancing our work and leisure. Through such activities relationships can be strengthened leading to a healthy life. Research suggests that those who are involved in social service activities do well in life. Outdoor activities and sports also can reduce stress.

As we grow older, regular participation in leisure activities is positively correlated with psychological well-being. Interestingly, one study suggests that watching television is negatively related to perceived well-being. However, more research is needed to assess the benefits, if any, of television viewing. The same fears have been expressed by researchers who are trying to find whether there is a downside to the Internet we use. We still do not know whether the Internet would increase our depression and loneliness.



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