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
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
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
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
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.