The Dude or hobbies.
June 29, 2011 5:11 AM   Subscribe

High-functioning vs. low stress - are they mutually exclusive?

I'm inclined to a lot of time-consuming hobbies - programming, writing, running - and time-consuming isn't a bad thing either. It's summer and there's not much to do.

On the other hand, a few of my close friends choose to live at a very relaxed rate. They just chill in their free time, and they're very relaxed cats. I myself can't seem to balance those two lives. Can anyone here?
posted by Taft to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The trick is to not take on too much. You have to prune the hobbies, or at least return them to "hobby" status instead of "task" status.

I have not been successful at this, but that's how to do it.
posted by gjc at 5:30 AM on June 29, 2011

Different people are different. Some people relax by lying in bed and reading and others relax by working out, or doing something else not conventionally considered "relaxing."

The real question here isn't why different people choose to spend their free time differently than you, but rather whether your lifestyle and choices are stressing you out.
posted by dfriedman at 5:42 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've found that I need to figure out what really relaxes me - I tend to think that it's lying in bed and reading, but actually that just winds me up if I'm reading something interesting or puts me into a depressive coma. On the other hand, a long bike ride really calms me down.

Do at least some of your hobbies relax you? Do your hobbies make you feel overscheduled?

I struggle with "duty" hobbies - ie, volunteering and political work. Those are things I feel a lot of responsibility for and I can't just put off a meeting or something if I feel like I want to do something else. I tend to go between way-overscheduled and way-underscheduled because I have trouble picking and choosing responsibilities.

Maybe that's a question - which of your hobbies are purely hobbies to you?
posted by Frowner at 6:19 AM on June 29, 2011

Everyone's equilibrium is different. Personally familial and friendly obligations stress me out. My relaxation is finding some time to actually do nothing, quietly, with my blessedly silent dog. But, too much of that and it's absolutely stressing to feel like I'm not 'doing enough'

I used to work with a guy that joked that he wasn't happy unless he was "covered in shit." He constantly took too much on, and required herculean efforts to deliver... but every time he'd finish up, he'd immediately start again.

I don't think many of us get real 'balance'; so much as constantly weave back and forth searching for our equilibrium
posted by DigDoug at 6:28 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think they are mutually exclusive. For me, the trick is being in the moment - whatever I'm doing, I try to keep my mind on that thing and be aware of exactly where I am and what I'm doing.

It's a great stress reliever, no matter how busy I am, since I'm not constantly worried about getting on to the next thing or the thing after that. Everything will have its own time, what will be will be, etc.

Note: This doesn't work every day. I'm not a zen master. It's just what I strive for, and it's made a huge difference in both my productivity and my peacefulness.
posted by jymelyne at 9:31 AM on June 29, 2011

Nthing DigDoug. I like to sit quietly in a room with a book, a cat, a drink, and perhaps some dust motes slowly drifting in a ray of sunshine cast on the floor. And I can do this quite happily FOR HOURS. However, my life doesn't allow this too often so I have to settle for a few hours a week.

I need this on some level in order to remain sane at a job that is essentially putting out fires and talking people down from ledges while juggling chainsaws. OK. It's not that bad but some days...

My GF on the other hand needs an ACTION PLAN for her free time and pretty much hates unstructured time. Hilarity often ensues.

If it's any consolation, your chilled out friends probably envy your work ethic and ability to stay active/directed with your free time. I know I do.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2011

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