Daisy Luther, Contributor
Times are stressful. In many homes, there are unopened bills in the basket by the door. Bank accounts are in overdraft. Every week the charges at the grocery store are a little bit higher than the week before, and for less food. Kids want new clothes and that latest video game, the car needs to be fixed and people’s jobs are draining the very life from them.
It is vital to take time out of the day to relax. It rejuvenates you, improves your health, and calms your mind so that you can think more clearly.
When you have a million and one things to do, though, sometimes it’s difficult to force yourself to stop. This is because stress releases two hormones into your body: adrenaline and cortisol. Excesses of these hormones can cause blood pressure spikes, food cravings that lead to weight gain, and heart disease, to name just a few of the pitfalls.
Many folks decide they need a hobby, and that hobby ends up either costing them money with nothing to show for it, or it kills off a few brain cells as the person sits there, passively entertained in an altered state in front of the television or a video game.
Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain. Alpha waves are brainwaves between 8 to 12 HZ. and are commonly associated with … brain states associated with suggestibility…Too much time spent in the low Alpha wave state caused by TV can cause unfocused daydreaming and inability to concentrate….Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive. (source)
Passivity actually opens up the door to your brain and allows you to be programmed – mass media uses this as a tool, by promoting ideas (like gun control, acceptance of the “big brother” philosophy, or the politically correct flavor of the month). It inhibits your critical thinking skills and leaves your brain craving even more time in this low Alpha state. This is the reason that some people sit blankly in front of the TV for hours every night, until they fall asleep on the couch and then get up to do it all again.
Because of this, it’s important to choose your spare time activities in a manner that enhances your brain function, instead of reducing it. In a world where entertainment means playing on your iPhone or sharing photos on Facebook, opting for industry for your downtime can be an unusual choice. But, stepping outside the path of the herd and choosing productive hobbies is a great way to relax. What’s more, if your brain is engaged in an activity while you view a television program or movie, then you are not as susceptible to messages, either subliminal or blatant. This means that you don’t actually have to keep the TV turned off at night – you just need to refrain from zoning out in front of it.
In 1726, 20-year-old Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character. He listed off the thirteen virtues that he believed were important to living a good life, one of which was industry. Franklin wrote of this characteristic, “Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
He believed that the pursuit of productivity would build character and help the practitioner to lead a more successful and moral life. In his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”
We can absolutely apply Franklin’s philosophy of industriousness and productivity to our lives today. When choosing leisure activities, consider opting for a productive hobby.
It should either…
- Teach something
- Create something
- Repair something
- Improve something
That leaves the door wide open to a broad range of choices! If you tend to be an overachiever, then you can relax without the guilt of worrying about all the things that you “should” be doing instead of chilling out.
Think back to the days before television. People worked hard all day long, producing food, cutting wood, cooking, hunting, building…it was a full time job to survive and thrive. In the evenings, by candlelight, they could stop and put their feet up for a while. Books were not widely available like they are now, so families passed the time by performing stitchery, carving, making furniture, mending things and creating items that made their lives more pleasant and beautiful. Sometimes a family member would read aloud, play an instrument or sing. Time was of value and not to be wasted, and there was rarely money to spare on an “evening out”.
Productive hobbies not only improve your brain – they can save you money and better your chances for thriving in a post-SHTF world. The ability to create or repair something will improve your standard of living and provide you with valuable skills for barter should an economic collapse occur. Time spent teaching your children these skills will, in turn, pass down arts that would otherwise be lost to generations of the future, while helping your child become a more critical thinker and problem solver.
Following are some examples of productive hobbies.
- Sewing clothing, curtains and soft furnishings
- Knitting and crocheting
- Repairing broken items
- Darning socks
- Building furniture
- Making pottery
- Cooking and baking
- Drawing and creating art
- Playing an Instrument
- Making cards
- Making jewelry
- Making ammo
- Welding and soldering
- Learning a language
- Doing a puzzle
- Playing a word, math or strategy game
- Preserving food
- Practicing outdoor skills like hiking, camping and foraging
The list is endless but those are a few suggestions. How do you unwind? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org