DR. PETE WEISS: ‘Doing-It-Myself’…Using Leisure Time In A Way That Enhances Wellness
By Peter Weiss, MD // August 15, 2016
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Are you a do-it-yourselfer? I am. I enjoy doing projects around the home and yard, and I seem to be enjoying it more and more. Lately, I’ve been considering these various activities part of my wellness regimen. Let me explain what I mean.
In modernity we face the problem of too much leisure time. Although we may spend long hours in the workplace, we still have much more personal discretionary time than prior generations.
Labor-saving devices, products and services abound. It takes less and less of our free time to perform the basic tasks associated with living. Examples include preparing rapid meals from packaged food rather than cooking from scratch, shopping on Amazon Prime instead of the mall, or hiring a yard service to mow the lawn. Add it all up and we’ve got a lot of time on our hands. What do we do with it?
Some people just work harder. They live in maintenance-free housing, hire many personal services and concentrate on making money. That’s fine if they really need the money, but if money or career success have become idols, as they often do, the opportunity to spend more time at work is a temptation that leads many down a path they later regret.
Others seek to be passively entertained. Give them the TV (or the internet), a couch and a beer and they’re in heaven on earth! What more does one need? Work to put food on the table and cover other essentials, then relax. Unfortunately a life consisting only of a nine-to-five job and five-to-nine relaxation (plus weekends) is also unlikely to produce robust physical, emotional and spiritual health.
To be well we’ve got to spend our personal discretionary or leisure time more wisely. Beyond explicit “self-improvement” activities, ordinary hobbies or other intentional voluntary activities can also be very good for us. One of my choices is to be a “do-it-myselfer.” Not for everything of course, but I like yard work of all sorts. (It’s time to start more amaryllis from seed again. That was a fun project last year.) And I enjoy tackling minor home repair, construction and electrical projects.
Installing a timer switch for the front door lights is my most recent small project. It turned out to be harder than I thought. It seems the electrical boxes they were using in 1971 aren’t quite as big as they make them now, but I got it done and it feels good.
Why does it feel good? Many reasons I think. Here are a few:
– It provided a sense of accomplishment. I did something useful.
– New learning was required. I enjoy learning.
– I saved a bit of money. No need to hire an electrician
– It added to a general sense of competence, of control over my life. I don’t have to hire someone; I can do these things myself.
It’s got me thinking maybe I should opt out of more modern labor-saving methods. Maybe doing more things the old fashioned way would be a good way to spend my leisure time. What else could I try to do myself? Baking my own bread perhaps? I used to do that when I was single. I’m sure I’d enjoy it again, and Sharon would help; she likes to cook and bake from scratch. It could be a couple’s activity.
We’ll see. For now, I’ve got enough to keep me busy. What do you do with your leisure time? Is it helping you to be well?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Peter Weiss is a physician, healthcare executive, author, speaker and health coach with a passion for helping others to health and wellness. His book on personal health, More Health, Less Care, has drawn excellent reviews, and his newest book, The Love Fight, was released in November 2014. Formerly CEO of Health First Health Plans, Dr. Weiss currently serves as Senior Vice President at Florida Hospital in Orlando, part of the Adventist Health System. You can find him on the web at Healthdiscipleship.com