Valuing Free Time

“Free Time” – A time for ease and relaxation.

Do you remember when you were given “free time”.  At camp or school you were told, “Free time till lunch, do what you want”.  Wasn’t that just the best!!  Maybe your teacher said, “I need to go down to the office, the next 15 minutes are free time. Enjoy!” Instantly the noise in the room rose and this was a time of great excitement.

Or maybe your boss said “The meetings cancelled, the next hour is yours to do whatever you want” (We can fantasize)

Wouldn’t you feel more energy, instantly!!

Do you ever look at your calendar and see space to do whatever your heart’s desire? Or, a whole lot of nothing?

If you don’t, I want to convince you that it could be the most valuable time for your health and productivity. Yes, I know, somewhat counter-intuitive, but here it goes.

Free Time Gives You Energy

Because it’s relaxing. When we are under pressure to get things done, our minds and bodies contract. Do, do, do.  The cost of this contraction is an energy drain causing stress and stress breeds dis-ease.

Family caretakers (of special needs children or sick/dying person) are an extreme example. If they don’t put into their calendars time for themselves, they often die before or shortly after the person they are taking care of dies.

Even if you’re not a caretaker of someone ill or with a disability, if you were to look at what fills your day you’ll see that 90% is about doing something for someone else.  The spouse, the kids, the boss, the employer/ employees, the business, etc.

For your energy and health, put some free time on your calendar.

 Free Time Helps With Mental Fatigue

We live in an informational over-load world.  We need to keep up with the technological changes the world throws at us every day.  Every single day we have to learn something new about something that we use to get us through the day.

Even if its something small like your phone updated and now the icons are different and are found someplace else.  We are constantly trying to keep up.

Daniel J. Levitin wrote in The Organized Mind, “Our brains do have the ability to process the information we take in, but at a cost: We can have trouble separating the trivial from the important, and all this information processing makes us tired.  Neurons are living cells with a metabolism: they need oxygen and glucose to survive and when they’ve been working hard, we experience fatigue”.  He goes on to talk about how our status updates or texts from friends compete for resources in our brains with more important things. How about giving our brains a little “free time”.

Free Time Can Help You Lose Weight

So on that same subject of the brain needing glucose (the amount is actually staggering) in Chinese medicine theory over-thinking and worrying (which belongs to the earth element) will cause us to crave sweets. In my practice as an acupuncturist  if a client disclosed that they  tended to worry, to be an over-thinker I can guarantee you that they had sweet cravings.

Being in school, in and of itself leads to a lot of thinking, and guess what happened to me when I went back for my masters degree.  Yep, a little bigger belly.  Sooooo if you need more incentive to give yourself free time to have ease and relaxation, throw your cares away, well here’s one.  Ease and relax yourself to eating better.  Also, see Mindful Eating.

 Free Time Gives You Choices

According to William Glasser Founder of The William Glasser Institute and author of Choice Theory” A New Psychology of Personal Freedom, states that we are driven by our genes to satisfy five basic needs.  One of these needs is freedom, and that we have a need to have choices and to be able to take control of the directions of one’s life.

The freedom to not have to check something off a to-do list, to be giving to your job, spouse, children….  Doesn’t that sound so peaceful and relaxing.  Laying on think grass, hands behind your head, staring up at the blue sky and wispy clouds. Ahhhh

The choice is yours to do what you want!

Free Time Allows For Innovation and Creativity

We all know that Einstein got his best ideas in the shower.  Why? Because he was at ease and relaxed and not thinking.  This is the way we get into the “Gap”.  That place where new ideas come from instead of our auto-pilot thoughts and beliefs.

Give yourself time to imagine….

Two great quotes from someone who knew a lot about this subject. Albert Einstein.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

Some ways to fit in free time for those with a busy schedule (I think that’s everyone):

– Go early to pick up your kids early and sit in the car, relax, take a few deep breaths and imagine!

– Wake up 10 minutes early and do nothing but free think, hmmm I wonder…

– Go on a picnic.

– Take time during lunch to not be engaged.

Let your imagination go wild with carving out free time!!

To you health, wealth and satisfying relationships,

Connie Warden