Recreation – Therapeutical And Fun!

Recreational therapy is recognized as hugely beneficial for behaviour modification, motivation, sensory stimulation, anger management and substance abuse rehabilitation.

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In this period of lockdown, one can appreciate the need for recreation more than ever. It is an environment where our anxiety is compounded by the lack of freedom. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. 

I am experiencing the shift of recreational social contact online. My cousin in New York organizes a weekly hangout meeting where we do everything from singing songs to playing dumb charades or Pictionary. The opportunity to let one's feelings be lightened by recreation is a critical one for mental health and poise.

As it happens, my work as a healer and mindfulness therapist has brought me into close contact with the allied area of recreational therapy. I have practised it myself from sloppy painting to proficient culinary endeavours. I find that I am happier irrespective of what my recreation happens to be. The weight of burdens lightens when one is at play.

It was Florence Nightingale who first worked with convalescent soldiers during the Crimean War and proposed that recreation experiences could be drawn upon to improve rehabilitation. The term “recreational therapy” was first coined by the Menninger brothers working on mental health disorders.  

The enhancement of physical, cerebral, emotional and social development via leisure can be a lifelong pursuit. The unique feature of recreation is that its modalities can be extremely individualized to each person’s interests and lifestyle. The good strive to become better and the better are stretching to get to being best. But even when not competitive purely as a means to unwind, it is rewarding. 

Recreational therapy is recognized as hugely beneficial for behaviour modification, motivation, sensory stimulation, anger management and substance abuse rehabilitation. When we feel happy, we feel accepting of our situation. 

Stress management through family interventions can help cope in these times. When children see a happy family at collective recreation, for example, they feel reassured and secure. Expressive arts, board games, adapted sports, fitness training, cooking are amongst the many things we can help ourselves with. 

 The beneficial outcomes are progressive and all around. Individuals who participate in various structured recreational acts feel enhanced attention, better organizational skills, increased alertness and awareness of surroundings, reduced confusion and disorientation and improved interpersonal ability. When you relax with others, you can feel their humanity. 

The psychosocial boost that group recreation provides is well recognized including building increased communication, fostering trust and cooperation, managing anxiety, aiding the development of conversation, decreasing social isolation and increased affiliation with others

Increase of joyous interaction even with strangers lowers depression and enhances feelings of well being. If you have been in a group of strangers laughing together and felt the bonhomie, you will understand the point.

The question is what should one do and how does one start?

My recommendation is to do the less usual. If you don’t sing, start singing. If you can’t paint, get the colours out. Like building muscle, doing the unusual will relax you more and boos your sense of absorption. It will also make small improvements satisfying.

Secondly, be single-minded about your recreational pursuit. Encounter people as individuals and not in any role /persona. 

Lastly, make time for recreation often. Once recreation becomes a fix, its benefits will expand to colour your personality in positive ways.

Happy Leisure Time!

Life is a song if you are willing to join the chorus. 


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