A few days ago, I was listening to a local radio station and caught an interview with a mother and her young son. They were challenging each other to go the entire weekend without engaging in any screen time. The rules of the challenge were no cell phones, no tablets, no television, no email, and most importantly, no social media from Friday evening to Monday morning. Instead, they were to engage in reading, face-to-face conversations, playing board games, going for walks together etc. I found the interview to be delightful. The interaction between the mother and son was lively and full of well-intentioned kidding.
It left me wondering however, what would I have thought of the interview if I heard it 10 years earlier? I believe that ten or so years ago, I would have thought the idea of choosing to fill down time with reading or walking as a stretch or a challenge to be crazy or ridiculous. That led me to further wonder about what has happened to our leisure time in the last decade. Do we even have free time anymore?
Filling our Time with Social Media
It seems that any spare moments or idle time is filled with being on our phones either checking emails, posting photos to our Instagram accounts, logging onto Facebook or texting friends, family or colleagues. The shrinking of our leisure time has been largely influenced by the anxiety generated due to the global recession in 2008. We have become so devoted to our work and to getting ahead that we are willing to sacrifice our free time. Our busyness has actually become our obsession and it is making it more difficult to enjoy guilt-free downtime. The real shame is that downtime is so very important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Unplugging fully and completely and allowing our authentic selves to come forward is what we need to enjoy and contribute to our families and communities.
To add more pain to the problem, social media has become our primary outlet to show off to the world just how active and interesting we are even in our supposed free time. So, what has happened is that our free time has now become our second job! We spend so much time managing our image and feeding the pervasive mentality that being busy 24/7 is most desirable. We often forget about the benefits of real true downtime. So many people have told me that they are as anxious about managing their downtime as are about their regular, paying job.
Getting Back to the Way Weekends Used to be
Let’s not forget that weekends are supposed to be about enjoyment, relaxing and doing things without the sense of obligation or stress. How about getting back to weekends as they used to be years ago, days flowing naturally and enjoyment coming from being present in the moment fully and completely without our minds fretting to find the perfect posting photo.
I wonder how the mother and son weekend challenge went. More importantly, I wonder if they found a new way to be in leisure time together. I hope they discovered that stepping away from being connected to the outside world allowed them to enjoy being connected to each other and that making a memory was more fun and enjoyable than making a post.
How can you practice imagination today? What in your life can you build an imaginary story around? What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!
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To our Health and Wellbeing,