In a world of back-to-back meetings, hellish commutes, and cramped workspaces, we have normalized serious issues like burnout, depression, and anxiety.
Our reasons? Productivity and hustle. But the irony—it’s precisely by taking care of our minds that we become manifold effective and keep burnout at bay. To quote Psychology Today,
“There are both physical and psychological benefits of leisure time, with reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression; improved mood; and higher levels of positive emotion. They also lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate.”
I want to share 5 such activities — but unlike the cliché ones, I won’t tell you to meditate or stroll. I’ll give you rarely-talked-about ones.
Sinking Into Your Chair and Relishing the Setting Sun
There’s something soul-stirring about the orange sun receding into the horizon — the setting of the mighty burning gas ball signals closure and reminds you to rest.
Add a lean-back chair into the mix and you’ve got a treat. Whenever I shut my laptop and relish this, time screeches to a standstill — peace, calm, and the ever-present beauty of the present.
As my solar buddy disappears and I return to work, I brim with positivity, focus, and energy.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a sun view.
Star-gazing, admiring the shifting clouds, or even observing the barking mongrels, passing vehicles, and chirping birds will work. As time-management expert Selin Malkoc says,
“The key to enjoying your leisure activities is to live in the moment as much as possible.”
A Steamy Shower with A Scented Body Wash
May God bless the person who invented the showerhead — a hot shower is my omnipotent “reset” button.
Procrastinated for 2 hours? Lacking the motivation to write? Feeling lethargic? No matter what, post a hot shower, I’m a machine.
Hot showers have a ton of benefits — better sleep, healthier skin, reduced headaches, relieved bodily tension, and stress evaporation. With a scented body wash or oil, this climbs up another notch.
If you’re looking for a jolt of mental energy and alertness rather than a calm mind recharge, go for a cold shower instead.
Banter with Your Family
It’s been over a year since I stopped watching TV, streaming platforms, and anime. But now and then, I’ll land on the sofa and bear through some TV just for the family time.
Most often, the TV becomes a background noise — thanks to our chatter and laughter filling the living room. If it gets silent, I’ll get back and even a small such interlude leaves me burning with energy.
“At the end of your life, you’ll never regret not having passed one more test or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.”
— Barbara Bush
You don’t even need full-blown family time — crossing over to your brother’s room for 5 minutes, visiting your mom in the kitchen, or checking on your half-dozing half-reading grandma is enough.
A short positive circuit breaker is all you need.
Reading Light Fiction
Reading has become synonymous with non-fiction, mainly self-help. But fiction is as if not more beneficial.
While powerful characters and storylines with profound messages transform you from deep within, light-upbeat stories cure the darkest of moods and worries.
So much so that “Bibliotherapy” or reading therapy is actively used to reduce mental health issues.
My go-to is fantasy fiction — when you’re teleported to surreal worlds, mundane earth’s vagaries disappear. My top 4 picks would be The Emperor’s Soul, The Final Empire, Assassin’s Apprentice, and Lord Of The Rings.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
— George R.R Martin
Strumming Your Guitar
Don’t have one? Go for the keyboard. Classical much? The flute’s waiting for you. Have a lot of space to spare? A piano won’t complain.
Listening to music is widely recommended as a leisure activity, but playing music puts it to shame — deeper empathy, higher self-esteem, better memory, sharper focus, and protection against age-related brain degeneration.
One 6-month study whose subjects started learning the drums found white matter tract improvements—the brain parts that control the speed of neural transmission. Another linked long-term playing to significant positive neural changes. There are tons of other studies as well.
This is as much a reminder to brush the dust off my guitar as it is a piece of advice for you. Now that I’m done with this article, let me go strum some strings.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”
About Joshua Wood
Joshua is a Microsoft Azure Certified Cloud Professional and a Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer. A Data Analytics at Acme, specializing in the use of cloud infrastructure for Machine Learning and Deep Learning operation at scale.