Week 36 – Alignment Through Recreation
Leave all the afternoon for exercises and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. Thomas Jefferson
As an occupational therapist, part of my scope of practice deals with play and recreation. We teach people how to regain loss of physical and/or cognitive function through engagement of play, leisure tasks, and work. We take whatever the person’s personal interests are and use it to assist in regaining their independence after a physical or mental injury. For example, I had a patient who’d suffered a stroke and had partially loss function of her left arm and hand, and also suffered some memory loss. During her physical assessment she discussed how much she loved to garden (leisure task). So as part of her plan of care I designed a schedule and provided direct treatment centered around that goal: To regain prior level of function to perform gardening tasks independently. Of course this required a ton of gross motor interventions before we could actually start getting in the garden. However, once she was able to get outside safely and engage in the gardening activity, her improvement and progress took off quickly and she recovered faster than she ever imagined.
There’s something about recreation and engaging in activities that you enjoy that gives life. There’s something about playing that frees the human spirit and reconnects us with our inner spirit. Just the word itself connotes starting something over. Recreation, Re-creation, Recreate. What are we recreating? What are we realigning ourselves with or getting back to?
Remember back when we were children we had a specified time for recreation were we would usually go outside and play, run, skip, jump, etc. This recreational activity was mandatory for the growth and development in us as children. It taught us social skills, teamwork, conflict resolution, and a myriad of other skills crucial for our advancement into adolescence. It was just as important as the scholastic studies we engaged in. What happened as we got older and became adults? The re-creation slowed down. Suddenly other things became more important and we didn’t have time to play. We now see play as something frivolous and a time-waster. We engage in leisure tasks nowadays for the sole purpose of exercise and not really for the fun of the activity. In our hectic lives as adults, we focus very heavily on work and family. That’s it. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we stopped playing. And when we do carve out some recreational time, we’re more likely to zone out in front of the TV or computer rather than to engage in some form of rejuvenating play like we did as children. But just because we’re now adults doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves so seriously and make life all about work and paying bills. Recreation is still mandatory!
As I write this post, I am on the beautiful island of the Bahamas. Yes, I am enjoying my re-creation. Jet skiing galore, banana boat riding, parasailing, snorkeling, you name the water activity, it’s here. However, I have chosen to minimize that type of fun in exchange for long walks along the beach, reading, and ocean side relaxing. There is so much play going on here and the energy is contagious even just to sit and watch. There’s a refueling of the imagination with recreation. There’s a rekindling of the creative side of us when we surround ourselves or better yet participate in recreation. It’s a time to forget about commitments. Forget about deadlines. It’s a time to be social in an unstructured way. There’s no goal to accomplish. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond the sheer enjoyment of it.
And of course we do not have to be on a beach to experience good recreation (but it sure doesn’t hurt :-)). Our recreation could be something as simple as goofing off with friends and/or family, going for a bike ride, doing something we might consider stupid with our children or our significant other. Simply getting in the outdoors sparks recreation. A park is a good place to release your inner child lol. Fly a Frisbee. Toss a football. Go for a swim. Do whatever frees your spirit and is fun to you.
Of course we all have things to do, goals to accomplish, and endeavors to achieve. But take time to reconnect. Take time for recreation. Re-create yourself. Everything is about spiritual alignment and recreation/play is one of the best and most natural tools you can use to re-align yourself. It releases resistance and increases allowance. Recreation opens your heart and mind. It reminds us of why we’re here – For the joy of this life experience! In the words of my grandmother, “Go outside and play!”