People need to have fun during their time off, in order to feel refreshed and go back to work with a clear mind. When guilt rears its ugly head, it destroys the benefits of indulging in our preferred leisure activities, and makes us less productive in the long run.
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Remember the adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” Entertainment has restorative aspects. Theoretically, down time should recharge your batteries and make you more productive.
Unfortunately, we may not benefit from things we see as guilty pleasures. In his book Your Erroneous Zones, Wayne Dyer claims that guilt is one emotion that saps our energy and is a negative influence on our thinking and our lives.
A new study published by Reuters Health indicates that when people spend free time doing activities that make them feel guilty, they end up feeling worse, not better. The guilt may make us less productive than not taking a break at all.
The problem occurs when people see their leisure activities — for example, watching TV or playing video games — as procrastination, rather than time off. When study subjects felt guilty over playing games and watching TV, they were less likely to perceive time spent engaging in these activities as restorative.
At Reuters, they explain that working hard and resisting the temptation to go have fun causes “ego depletion.” This is normal. The ego works to help us stay on task, and after a productive and focused day our ego needs to be refueled.
Activities that are easy fun, such as watching television or playing video games, are enjoyable and serve well to refill the ego. After taking a break with your favorite video game, you are better able to go back to work and be productive.
Unless you feel bad or guilty about what you did on your break; in this case, your ego is still depleted.
Therefore, best practice is to allow yourself to enjoy your simple fun. You need it, your ego needs it, and there is no reason to feel guilty. You will go back to work replenished and refreshed.
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