Working hard to relax


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Es dona una explicació de la personalitat autoetílica i com actua en els dimensions de la teoria de Flow de Csikszentmihalyi.
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Working hard to relax

  1. 1. DePaul UniversityFrom the SelectedWorks of Mona ShattellApril 2011Working hard to relax: Improving engagement inleisure time activities for a healthier work-lifebalance Contact Start Your Own Notify Me Author SelectedWorks of New Work Available at:
  2. 2. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32:269–270, 2011 Copyright © Informa Healthcare USA, Inc ISSN: 0161-2840 print / 1096-4673 online DOI: 10.3109/01612840.2011.553346 COMMENTS, CRITIQUE, AND INSPIRATION COLUMN Working Hard to Relax: Improving Engagement in Leisure Time Activities for a Healthier Work-Life Balance Linda Buettner, LRT, CTRS, F-GSA, F-AGHE University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Recreation, Tourism, and HospitalityIssues Ment Health Nurs Downloaded from by University of North Carolina Charlotte on 03/31/11 Management, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA Mona Shattell, PhD, RN University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Nursing, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA Madeleine Reber, MFA University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Dance, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA Edited by Mona M. Shattell, PhD, RN and community, tend to crowd out time for other meaningful University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Nursing, experiences. These other activities seem more important than Greensboro, North Carolina, USA leisure experiences, yet as Shattell (2010) has suggested else- For personal use only. where, leisure time or time in quiet contemplation is important In a work-centered environment, society, and life, leisure and beneficial to both mental and physical well-being. experiences are gifts that we must remember to give Leisure activity, for us, is different from the passive experi- ourselves—gifts that we often have to work hard to get. For ence of sitting in front of the television and “tuning out.” Rather, us, leisure experiences include a relaxed reading of the newspa- it is having experiences (either alone or with others) in which we per from cover to cover (Buettner, Shattell), a leisurely walk find ourselves fully engaged, curious, challenged, or delighted. with the dog in the park (instead of just around the block; Some of these activities may fall in between strict categories of Buettner), taking a tap dance class (Shattell), or planting a gar- “work” and “leisure,” such as time spent participating in com- den (Reber). While each of these experiences is quite different, munity events, helping a friend with a project, or volunteering we can get totally “lost” while doing them. What make these ac- for an organization whose work we find meaningful. Others may tivities most enjoyable are the intrinsic rewards we receive from be hobbies, such as biking, knitting, or reading. These engaging them. Experts recognize that people differ in their tendency to experiences can serve as a respite from the pressure to “produce” seek out or respond to intrinsic rewards in leisure time activities. or to “get things done.” The simple act of being engaged in the These inclinations can be attributable to personality differences moment and present to the activity allows a sense of “leisure” and, in conjunction with situational factors, are important for or “play.” understanding how we engage in leisure. Personality style can impact the ability to relax and fully Leisure time activities do not come easily to all of us. The engage in leisure experiences. In the 1950s, Type A and Type pressure to be productive that is inherent to life in academe B personality types were thought of as “high strung worka- (and other pressured work environments), with the addition of holics” or “easy going relaxed” types, respectively, and were achievement-focused personality traits, can make it difficult to associated with one’s chances of developing coronary heart dis- take time for leisure activities. Work-life demands, such as those ease. Disavowed by many, the Type A and Type B traits are not of an academic (e.g., preparing for classes, working on research commonly used clinically to describe people today. However, and creative projects, writing papers for publication, meeting a Type D (distressed) personality style has recently come to with students and faculty), and those as an individual member the forefront and is almost always linked to poor mental and of a social society with responsibilities related to home, family, physical health outcomes (Denollet, 2005; Mols & Denollet, 2010). The individual with Type D factors is described as nega- Address correspondence to Linda Buettner, Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality Management, University tive, pessimistic, depressed, anxious, and lonely. The individual North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402. E-mail: in this distressed state is not able to relax or enjoy free time experiences. 269
  3. 3. 270 L. BUETTNER ET AL. On the contrary, an autotelic personality type describes a give all of his or her attention directly to the task at hand. person who is able to “live in the moment” and derive utmost Learning to turn off extraneous devices and distractions and pleasure from leisure experiences (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). control one’s focus on the activity at hand is one of the most Csikszentmihalyi (1990) describes these individuals who, when powerful skills a person can develop. Example: Develop a appropriately challenged, can derive the maximum pleasure schedule for meaningful leisure experiences and focus on it. from the experience, and become so engrossed or wrapped up The constantly distracted mind is at the mercy of every pass- in an activity that they experience a “flow state.” For Buettner, ing stimulus; therefore, attention is spread and diluted. With cross-country skiing on perfect snow between old growth trees scheduled practice, this focus can become second nature and provides her with this flow experience. Buettner feels that she leisure experiences can become more meaningful. could slide and float during this perfect pleasure experience for 3. Being in the leisure moment: Human beings have incredible hours or days enjoying the solitude, the sounds of the skis on capabilities for enjoyment and inner peace. With a mindfulIssues Ment Health Nurs Downloaded from by University of North Carolina Charlotte on 03/31/11 the snow, and the sense of peace with nature. The second author approach, each individual can gain control of thoughts, which (Shattell) has a similar experience when wearing her tap shoes, opens the mind to experience joy and pleasure from almost making sounds and rhythms or working on difficult step combi- anything of interest. Example: Describe the immediate en- nations. Thus, during a flow experience the individual loses all joyment that comes from each taste, smell, sound, thought, sense of time, yet feels challenged, capable, and able to enjoy and observation, and then allow those sensations to anchor the moment fully. the flow experience. Look for types of trees, admire flowers, Leisure experiences could be encouraged in our patients. In smell the natural environment, and listen for the sound of a study of 20 individuals with various stages of cancer, Buettner birds during weekend walk in the woods. (1980) found that, with coaching and support, some personal- ity factors could be changed (for the better). Participants were Although these steps may be simple, some of us have to work provided a free recreation center membership, healthy leisure hard to relax and to fully engage in leisure experiences. Others time and active living coaching, and group support sessions. may have patients or clients who would benefit from learning After eight weeks, participants were more gregarious, more ac- how to increase and improve their leisure experiences and to tive, and more in control of their leisure time. More recent increase the “flow” or intrinsic rewards that can be gained from For personal use only. studies indicate that cognitive behavioral therapy may be use- these activities. We hope that this article will help those who ful to encourage more autotelic qualities (Karwoski, Garratt, & work hard to relax, whether it is you or your patients. Ilardi, 2006). This type of counseling intervention is a perfect co-treatment for a recreational therapist and mental health nurse. Becoming a person with more of an autotelic personality REFERENCES must be actively practiced. Some steps to help you or your Buettner, L. (1980). Personality factors: Impact of recreation and exercise for patients becoming more “in the moment” are as follows: cancer patients. Unpublished master’s thesis. Bowling Green State Univer- sity, Bowling Green, OH. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. 1. Setting challenging goals: To experience a sense of flow, New York, NY: Harper Collins. the individual must have clear and obtainable goals. These Denollet, J. (2005). DS14: Standard assessment of negative affectivity, social goals must match the person’s skill level and interest. The inhibition, and Type D personality. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 89–97. doi: individual with an autotelic personality can make leisure time 10.1097/01.psy.0000149256.81953.49 Karwoski, L., Garratt, G. M., & Ilardi, S. S. (2006). On the integra- decisions with a minimum of extra effort that allows her or tion of cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression and positive psychol- him to focus on attaining those challenging goals. Example: ogy. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 20(2), 159–170. doi:10.1891/ In a leisure counseling session, the goal is more active living 088983906780639763 and less depressive symptoms. The leisure time activity is Mols, F., & Denollet, J. (2010). Type D personality in the general popula- walking to work daily and hiking wooded trails with a hiking tion: A systematic review of health status, mechanisms of disease, and work-related problems. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 8(9), 1–10. partner on the weekends. doi:10.1186/1477–7525-8–9 2. Learning to become immersed in the activity: Environ- Shattell, M. (2010). Rethinking idleness, productivity, and time management: mental triggers, like a cell phone ringing, can set up a state A call to do nothing, more. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(5), 368–369. of divided focus. A person with an autotelic personality will doi:10.3109/01612840903477653