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The importance of taking time for yourself during the holidays

Person relaxing on the grass and staring at the sky.
Aor Pattanawadee
Stock Adobe
A person relaxing on the grass, staring into the sky.

The holidays can be a stressful time with a lot of parties, family gatherings, and squeezing in any end-of year tasks. Sometimes it’s hard to find downtime when things get hectic, but it is be essential for our well-being. Lake Effect takes look at how reframing free time can help us better appreciate and engage with the things that are important to our lives.

"I think the value of leisure and recreation is really that it gives us a moment to appreciate that our lives don't just have to be busy to have value. We can actually just be who we are and when life is really hectic, that's sometimes when we need that [downtime] the most," says Conor Kelly, a Catholic theological ethicist and associate professor at Marquette University.

Kelly's most recent book, "The Fullness of Free Time," looks at the benefits of making time for yourself. Despite the benefits of making time for yourself, there is still a significant amount of stigma around having "free time." Kelly looks at "free time" in two ways: leisure and recreation. He defines leisure activities as personally rewarding things, while recreational activities are things people do to rebuild and recreate themselves.

"Quality free time can be kind of targeted at building up our relational capacities, helping us to connect with others, and then allowing us after that to be a little bit better at being the social animals we were created to be," Kelly explains.

For the holidays, Kelly recommends taking stock of all the free time that you have and look at how to connect with your family in a meaningful way instead of rushing around trying to complete activities.

"What is important...is to really try and find a time each week, even if it's just a little bit where you can be in the presence of somebody else, and just appreciate their presence and you're not trying to do something or get something done," says Kelly. "Check something off the list you're actually trying to connect."

John Powers is the pop culture and critic-at-large on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He previously served for six years as the film critic.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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