Experts explain how being online and not cultivating our social relationships might not be the best use of our time.
Free time is defined as the time we don’t devote to work or other necessary activities.
However, today’s lifestyle often sells rest as something that in reality is continuous consumption.
That’s why it’s so common for people to have health problems such as migraines, stomach pains, nervousness, rage attacks, chronic fatigue, feelings of loneliness, and despondency, even after a period of free time.
Also read: What types of wellbeing are there?
David Pastor Vico, communicator, philosopher, and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), observes that binging on Netflix or HBO masks a background of existential anguish.
“South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han echoes this, explaining this need to fill empty spaces because we often haven’t done the exercise of knowing who we are, what we want, or dedicating what we call free time to being more ourselves,” he says.
Alanis Aguilar says that existing social conditions have reduced our free time.
“The vast majority of Mexicans are marked by different forms of exclusion, instability, and inequalities that take away their free time and leisure, so it ends up being seen as a luxury,” he explains.
According to the expert, people practically don’t have any free time due to working days of 12 hours or more or the context of remote work caused by the pandemic in which workers are required to respond to WhatsApp groups at any time.
David Pastor Vico, author of the book Filosofía para desconfiados (Philosophy for the Distrustful), in which he dedicates a couple of chapters to leisure time, says that the subject is now being talked about because we’re experiencing the consequences of not utilizing our free time to an unprecedented extent.
“Over the past century, we’ve enslaved ourselves and turned our backs on our biological nature as human animals. We’re not made to work eight hours, let alone 12. Maybe we need to start examining our habits and begin to order our lives.”
Juan Alanis Aguilar recognizes that free time, recreation, or diversion is vital from a psychological point of view: “The healthy development of individuals depends on it existing in all aspects of their lives.”
And, he adds, we’re taught from an early age that our work and professional careers will define us, but it isn’t true. There’s a big difference between being and doing.
We have to change that mindset to give ourselves guilt-free recreational spaces.
He adds that we shouldn’t lose our playful and joyful nature from when we were children when doing the activities that we like, as children play intensely, and everything feels vivid to them. By creating characters and stories, they fuel their creativity and imagination.
Both philosophers indicate that the time dedicated to play is the most valuable part of our lives because it makes us social beings, makes us develop our psychomotor skills, cognitive abilities, and facilitates critical thinking if it’s well directed and has healthy guidelines.
The basis for someone’s learning and social skills begins in the first years of life with the family being the guiding axis and the school the secondary axis. We explain how to cultivate social relationships.
Here are some of the things we should keep in mind:
We tend to evaluate everything from our own way of interpreting the world.
It turns out that the bonds we establish are based on our assumptions about other people, which are based on our own paradigms, but if we work on ourselves and understand that other people, close or distant, are different, we’re already building an alternative way of relating, adds psychotherapist Edgardo Flores.
You need to recognize the complexity of the other person, says the professor in Family Sciences from the Higher Institute for Family Studies.
“I’m influenced by a number of variables that have contributed to my way of being (my family environment, experiences, social relationships, the schools where I studied, books I’ve read, films, videos that I’ve enjoyed, and on and on and on). I understand that if I’m someone who’s complex, the other person is also complex.”
A third point that the specialist mentions, which comes from Buddhist philosophies, is that we’re all equal because we share the same desires: to be happy and to not suffer.
“When I come into contact with this deep longing that connects me to someone, whether known or unknown, it leads us to be subtle, kind, and assertive with our words,” Flores says.
As adults, we’ve created stereotypes that become limitations when bonding, but if we work on what unites us: the desire to be happy, I know that the other person doesn’t want to suffer.
Knowing that we share that deep down, I no longer see a limitation.
“I can approach anyone, but not from expectation, hoping to receive attention or affection. There will be people who, because of their conditions, don’t give us what we expect, and that’s when we feel frustration, disappointment, rejection, and it leads us to believe that we don’t have this ability to build bonds or that the world is against us.”
The therapist emphasizes that we should work on understanding, recognizing, accepting, validating the diversity of people, ways of being, expressions that will allow us to build respect, empathy, understanding, compassion, peace, kindness, and many expressions that contribute to maintaining better social relationships.