I’ve been enjoying some leisure time this past week. We might tend to think of leisure as the opposite of work. Work comes first because work is necessary to pay the bills. But leisure is just as necessary, it turns out, for good health. Chronic stress, the kind of stress that leisure can ease, interferes with both our physical and mental health. I can promise you that when we’re managing diabetes effectively we need for our physical and our mental health to be as good as possible.
We are just finishing up a vacation to one of our favorite places for pure leisure. While there is no real vacation from diabetes, I’ve made plenty of time to do enjoyable activities to take my mind off the other stresses in life. On this trip we walked on the beach (activity without even feeling like exercise), walked at a nature preserve seeing the most beautiful birds and keeping a keen eye out for alligators, visited a sparsely inhabitant island, spent the day exploring, went to farmer’s markets and watched comedy movies. We even took some time and shot a video…..about the importance of leisure. Leisure activities really energize you, and make you feel more relaxed. And leisure for you doesn’t have to match any definition. Your leisure should be something that YOU can escape to, leaving stress behind if only for a little while.You may prefer stripping paint off of an antique door to beach walking, and if that’s for you then that’s OK.
Adding leisure activities to your weekly routine will help you manage your diabetes. Sacrificing time for leisure when you could be doing something else, and there is always something else, is an important step in prioritizing self care. It’s another way to practice keeping your focus on the long term…those behaviors that don’t pay off immediately so tempt you to put them off. Trust me…..lose the guilt.
For me it’s back to work Monday. But these few days of leisure will last for a long time, body and mind.