Why Is It Important to Have Free Time?
Have you ever asked yourself why it’s important to have free time? If you’re one of those people who feel like 24 hours go by in the blink of an eye while you’re immersed in meetings and work tasks, books, homework, children, parents, or cleaning, then you probably have little to time for yourself.
The truth is that having free time is important from different angles. You may think that you’re too young for leisure, that there’ll be more time later in life, but before you know it, life is passing you by. Although it’s never too late, it may be that when you discover that you should have had free time to nourish your life, you won’t be able to recover certain experiences.
In the workplace, for example, it’s common for employees to dedicate their free time to keep working. In fact, research on psychosocial factors that can influence depression at work has addressed the influence of workload and work demands as the main risk factor.
Although it’s clear that it’s necessary to dedicate time to work, studies, or housework, which are also considered work, it’s crucial to find the right balance.
What is free time?
Many people may deny that they’re wasting their free time. Who hasn’t heard people who work during the week say that in their free time, they dedicate themselves to cleaning the house? Many have probably heard or given that answer.
Well, there’s a very big difference between taking advantage of free time and leisure and doing housework or school work during this time. Free time is defined as a space outside of personal or work obligations, while leisure is, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, “the cessation of work, inaction, or total omission of activity”.
As it is, leisure is what you do during your free time. Ideally, you should dedicate this time to activities that have nothing to do with work or tasks such as studying or housework. For example, you can you this time for exercising, reading for pleasure, playing chess, putting together a puzzle, going out with your friends or partner, and playing with your children.
Why is it important to have free time?
Well, so far, we’ve told you what free time is and what activities you could do. Now we’ll talk in depth about why it’s important to have free time:
Improve your mental health
Enjoying free time is important to our mental health. It provides us with moments of introspection that can impact clarity in decision-making. In addition, it acts as a detoxifier of everything that burdens us such as work, academic, and home activities.
Furthermore, experts agree that making good use of free time and dedicating it to the development of recreational activities that generate a sense of pleasure, both individually and socially, contributes to a better state of mental health.
Elevate your creativity
How do you expect flashes of creativity to come to your mind if you never have time to think outside the box? All human beings have the ability to be creative in different ways, but lack of time could be impairing this ability.
A study reminds us of the meaning of the word leisure in Greek: Scholé, which, in addition to referring to free time, meant learning, because for the Greeks, it was normal to take advantage of free time to develop the mind and knowledge.
This same study also indicates that leisure, by allowing the mind to disconnect from reality as it is, allows the individual to create possibilities in their mind that can then be transformed into reality.
In other words, it allows us to think of creative solutions applicable to our environment. So, if you’re worried about not performing at work, dedicating free time to your ideas can boost your performance.
Strengthen your social skills
The great philosopher Aristotle said thousands of years ago: “Man is a social being by nature.” Although moments of individuality and hindsight are vital, the social plane is also vital. Having free time and developing leisure activities with other people undoubtedly strengthens social skills.
Moreover, scientific studies have indicated that establishing close social relationships allows us to face health problems in a more positive way, including some such as stress. For example, in treatments to overcome chronic diseases, it’s vital to have a support network that allows hope to be kept alive.
An investigation revealed that carrying out leisure activities with a high social component in psychosocial rehabilitation processes, particularly in patients with severe mental disorders, improves the chances of recovery and generates a feeling of well-being.
Improve your physical performance
Spending your free time doing physical activity or training routines will improve your physical performance. Such is the influence of doing physical activity in your free time that a study published in the journal PloS Medicine, carried out by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), revealed that in this way, it’s possible to increase life expectancy by up to 4.5 years.
In addition, among other benefits of exercise that you can obtain by engaging in this activity in your free time, we find that you can lose weight, keep cholesterol balanced, and increase energy. All this will allow you to better carry out your daily activities.
In an article published by ECLAC on the right to free time in childhood and adolescence, the relationship between free time and the practice of physical activity is discussed as a promoter of self-esteem.
According to this report, in some countries of the world, girls spend less free time on these activities, negatively impacting aspects such as their mental and physical health and self-esteem, which could be related to the tendency to be overweight.
So, spending your free time strengthening your mental abilities, as well as your physical condition, can boost your self-esteem.
Strengthen your relationship with your partner
Dedicating quality time to your partner strengthens the relationship–that’s undeniable. On the contrary, leaving your partner in second or third place can cause cohabitation problems and detachment. Therefore, in addition to spending time with yourself, it’s also necessary to spend time with the people you love.
However, not allowing for space outside of the relationship can also be one of the reasons why relationships fail. In this case, the relationship could be that wall that keeps you from enjoying free time for your personal construction, which, in the long run, ends up distancing that loved one.
How to manage to set aside free time?
To be able to enjoy your free time without interfering with your other activities, you must be grounded. Yes, there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week, and as much as you wish there was more time, this won’t happen. So, internalize this information and get organized.
As part of your organization, if necessary, get a planner and, in addition to work or academic activities, write down the activities that you want to do in your free time. Separate leisure from household chores and make time for your family, friends, your partner, and for yourself.
Don’t allow these activities to interfere with one another. There’s no need to automate and pack everything mentioned in one week. You have 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year. So, schedule vacations in advance, plan for school events, and write your anniversary on your calendar, and respect that time.
Free time is a necessity, not a luxury!
As you can see, it’s important to have free time for the good development of your being. Free time isn’t a luxury and shouldn’t be seen as such, it’s a necessity, and it depends on you.
Being the best at your job doesn’t have to take you away from your family or vice versa. It all starts the moment you understand it and work for it. So, enjoy your free time!It might interest you...
- Moore SC, Patel AV, Matthews CE, Berrington de Gonzalez A, Park Y, et al. (2012) Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. PLOS Medicine 9(11): e1001335. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335
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