By Samantha Smadella
Starting over after a break-up can be exhausting and overwhelming. It is easy to put all your focus on your children and job, but you must keep in mind that balance in your life is more important now than ever before. Without balance, you risk burn-out and other mental health effects. Not only does this affect you, but your children as well. In order to care for your children, you need to care for their mother first. A great way of doing this, is through leisure activities!
Leisure includes activities that you do outside of work, home duties, and the normal tasks of living. It is the time you spend doing things that you enjoy and that improve your well being. Let’s talk about the five domains of leisure and how they can help you find your new balance in life.
Physical Activities are a great way to stay healthy. Not only does it benefit your physical health by keeping your muscles, heart, and body strong, but physical exercise has many mental health benefits as well. When you are feeling down, physical activities can give you a boost in endorphins, the chemicals that make the brain feel happy. It is also something you can do anywhere and fit in to your daily routine.
Some great ways to participate in physical activities include: yoga, walking/running, dance, weight lifting, martial arts, and team sports. You can do these activities in a group, on your own or even with your kids!
Social activities are the ones that allow you to spend time with others. This can be anything from going on a walk with a friend to joining a team sport to joining a meetup to meet new people. Humans are social beings and it is important to find people you connect with. Spending time with others will help avoid loneliness and depression. You may also notice that it boosts your confidence and self esteem. If you are able to get a sitter or a family member to care for your children every now and then, it will be a great benefit to your mental health to get out and spend some time with people who make you happy. Don't forget that you are more than just a parent. You are a unique individual and need time to be with other adults in order to be your best!
One of my favorite parts of the day is sneaking downstairs before the kids wake up, pouring a mug of coffee and doing my daily sudoku or crossword puzzle. Keeping your brain active and challenged provides great benefits throughout the day. It can help improve your memory and problem-solving skills. Some great ways of practicing cognitive leisure activities are: taking a special interest course, doing puzzles, escape rooms, and puzzles.
These are activities that help you process the emotions and work through your psychological growth. It is often difficult to find quiet time to reflect and heal from your experiences, but this is an excellent way of carving out that time for yourself. Some of the activities in this category are: journaling, creating process based art, playing or singing music, expressive dance, or even taking some time for yourself to quietly reflect in a hot bath or a walk in the forest.
If you believe in a higher power, there are many opportunities to participate in spiritual leisure. These could include participating in a religious service, attending worship nights or bible studies, or meditating. If you do not believe in religion, you may wish to spend time reflecting, journaling or doing art in nature or even just taking time to reflect on your life, your morals and values. I found a lot of comfort in becoming active in my church community during the hardest points in my life. I joined the worship band and helped serve others wherever I was needed. It helped me feel connected to something bigger than myself and allowed me to let go of things that were outside of my control.
As you navigate your new normal, keep in mind how important your own happiness is throughout the process. Find things that make you happy and do more of them. Spend time with the people who make you smile. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grow and flourish through leisure!