Earlier this week, I listened to Henry Blofeld, the “Voice of Cricket” try to explain the game. Apparently, this is no easy task. Cricket consists of slow-motion strategies and vocabulary fascinating to those who love cricket and incomprehensible to everyone else. Robin Williams, the legendary American comedian, once described cricket as “…baseball on valium.” (Since I think watching baseball is like watching paint dry, with apologies to all things British, I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch cricket.) Some-or-other Anglican bishop in the 1940s referred to cricket as “organized loafing.” That made me laugh.
I thought about that phrase; “organized loafing.” I’m thinking we could all do more of that. Organized loafing. Planned relaxation. Strategic resting. Deliberate lazing. Mindful idling.
How often do we actually do that? “Wait,” you say. “I go on vacation regularly!” Ah… but do you really? Do you actually vacation? I mean, do you stop? Mindfully and deliberately choosing to loaf. No agenda, no social media, no plans other than to play. Do nothing. Hang out in a hammock, read, sleep, saunter through the local zoo, visit the nearest museum browsing the galleries with no timetable, no schedule, no sense of urgency. No need to be anywhere else.
Statistics about our collective loafing are dismal. The majority of us work more hours than we’re paid for, don’t actually rest when we’re not working and don’t take all the vacation days we’re entitled to. The consequence of all this working and not playing is S T R E S S. We live with stress hormone levels so high it causes ill health. Insomnia, heart palpitations, brain fog, difficulty making decisions, emotional instability, and other uncomfortable physical manifestations all the result of too much work and not enough rest.
What would “organized loafing” look like to you? If you could imagine yourself crafting the ultimate opportunity to rest, what would that look like? Do you even know how to be off? The ability to relax is so needful for health and wellbeing that we neglect it at our own peril.
Loafing looks different for different people, but it has elements that are the same.
1. No work – that is, NO WORK.
2. No schedule – no need to be anywhere to do anything.
3. No expectations – whatever I choose to do at this moment is the perfect thing to do.
Loafing is an art.
Work, is, well, work. Leisure is everything that isn’t work. Play, is not work…or leisure. When we play, we are not doing work, nor are we doing non-work activities that make life livable. Like, oh, say… laundry, or dishes, or washing the kitchen floor. Play, is everything that isn’t work or leisure. The “balance” we’re looking for keeps work, our leisure, and our play in balance. Sadly, most of us are all about work-work-work-work-work-chores- chores-chores-play. Or even worse, work-work- work-work-work-work-work-work-work-work, and not much else. This is a recipe for disaster. Physical, mental, and psychological.
So…play. If you don’t know how, learn.
Play on your days off. Take all the vacation you’re entitled to. Do stuff you’ve never done before. Think possibilities. Think adventure.
Mental and physical health, and quality of life are directly correlated to how well we know how to play and how often we do it. If there are things about your life that aren’t groovy maybe you need to add up how much time you play compared to how much time you work. If work and leisure and play aren’t about equal, for the sake of your health, change it.
Take up the marvelous skill of organized loafing.
Dr Susannah is a leading psychologist, registered professional counsellor and Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling based in Canada. For more information, please follow @DrSusannah on Twitter and Instagram and stay tuned for her latest updates.