The Voice Of Fear

Recreation


Relax, this is suppose to be fun.

I know,

but I am playing so bad.

Then maybe your not "playing" at all.


Webster's Dictionary defines recreation as: "Any play, amusement etc... used for refreshment of body or mind."

 

So when we take part in recreation, it is for the purpose of rejuvenating our bodies from the stress and tension to which we have just subjected them. Conversely, a person might sit on a beach all day long and want to get back to the same activity from which they were recuperating.

 

Work and recreation go hand in hand – one enhances the other. After I have a hard workout I love to crash on the couch and relax. On the other hand, after a long day of sitting at my desk I can't wait to go work out. The body loves balance. It doesn't want you to become addicted to working out or becoming a couch potato, it wants some of both.

 

Our stress levels have risen steadily from generation to generation and we have become out of balance. I am sure that 100 years ago after working the farm, the farmer had no problem having a good dinner and going to bed early. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise” as the saying goes. But it doesn't matter what you do or when you go to bed if you find balance.

 

The old saying “work hard, play hard” contains a good deal of wisdom. Our modern day problem is that we work hard and we play hard, but the play is in a way that doesn't rejuvenate us. Instead it just compounds the stress we are already feeling. When the way we choose to relax doesn't refresh the body then we are not recreating. I had the opportunity to host an internet talk show with Access Health for three years as the recreational consultant. A cardiologist friend of mine was asked to do a show on heart disease and when they mentioned they were looking for someone in the sports and recreational area he told them about me. It was an opportunity to speak to people about how to create true recreation in their activities.

 

On the show I talked about the definition of recreation and asked them if their recreation was really recharging their batteries or if it was just creating more stress in their life. I told my story of walking into the pro shop of the country club just when a member was talking to the pro about his trip to Hawaii. He said, “If I knew how badly I was going to play golf I would have never gone.” I was amazed by the comment, but after some reflection I realized that I saw this all the time.

 

Many people wrote in and commented on the story. Many felt the same way as the golfer. Their recreational activities had at times ruined their vacations. Most were frustrated with their recreation because of poor performance or lack of improvement. Most had turned their recreation time into a stressful work-type environment based on results. They agreed that the human body was amazing at dealing with stress but were frustrated at how hard it was to recharge.

 

People asked how to improve play in their particular sport.

 

First, I asked them why they played. Most said that it was for enjoyment of the game. I found that interesting, because at the same time they would voice their frustrations over lack of improvement or substandard performance. Clearly the activity was causing them stress instead of relieving it. If you have stress at work and stress at play then you are at advanced risk of long-term stress issues. The response people gave me was, “If I was better then I wouldn't be so stressed.” This is a catch 22.

 

They were only going to improve once they lowered their stress level in order to learn the proper techniques. I found that people’s need to succeed in a measurable way followed them from the workplace to the playground. Very few people felt more relaxed or rejuvenated from their recreational activities. The competitive mentality followed them into their recreation so that all they saw was fear or a need to conquer and control. I would ask the viewers these eight questions:

 

1. How did you get interested in this activity?

 

2. What do you like most about it?

 

3. What do you like least about it?

 

4. What would be your ideal level?

 

5. What is your ideal experience?

 

6. Have you ever had a perfect day?

 

7. How do you feel when you are done?

 

8. If you never did it again what would you miss?

 

In every case fear had taken over their recreation. I am sure that the guy from the pro shop would have loved the Hawaii trip had he shot well. So did he enjoy the game of golf or just the outcome of a good score? Outcome has taken over our recreational time, and fear is driving our recreation when it is supposed to relieve us of the stress that fear created.

 

For an activity to be recreational it has to relieve stress and allow the body to rejuvenate. Most of the people who contacted the show chose an activity that caused them performance-based stress. The answer to knowing why we are such a stressed out people even when we have access to so many recreational activities is to understand the true nature of competition. So turn the page.


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