Why We All Need Recess

Remember when recess was the favorite part of your day? For the couple hours that seemed like forever, that big clock on the classroom wall would grind out the school day one tick at a time punctuated by those few amazing moments—that free-for-all called recess.

Getting my "runners high."

As spring semester draws to a close, some will break for the summer. Some will break for just a couple weeks before the next semester. The important thing is that we all will have a break.  If there is one thing I have learned in the quest for my degree it is that everyone needs “recess.”

Call it a release, an outlet, or liberation, a catharsis, cleansing, or emancipation, or simply call it blowing off some steam. For children it burns pent-up energy allowing better mental focus upon returning to the classroom. Oddly enough this is one thing that doesn’t change all that much with age. The psychological value of recess is indispensable. Finding an activity you enjoy as periodic distraction from the gravity of grades, work, and life in general can effectively “reset” you for an upcoming commitment whether it is the next semester or a lengthy work project.

If you’ve got a hobby that is your pressure release valve—awesome.  If not, may I make a suggestion or two?

  • Do something physically demanding. Ever heard of a “runners high?” It comes from the release of endorphins that enhance your physical capability and sharpen your mind.  Whether you might like rock climbing, hiking, running or racquetball, play and play hard.
  • Do something outside. How many hours are you cooped up at the office or the study desk? Get some sun—once again it’s those endorphins recharging the batteries that were finally sucked dry by that week of finals.
  • Build something or fix something. The sense of accomplishment from the physical presence of something you’ve built or fixed is a gratifying way of (a) making yourself useful and (b) feeling good about yourself. Too often the grind of work and school can seem fruitless—particularly mid-semester. The act of creating or fixing something is a quick way to find satisfaction from effort.
  • Try something new. Not only will a trip outside your comfort zone do you some good in becoming a more balanced, confident, achieving person it may open up a new world of interest that will enrich your life.
  • Do any of these things with the people closest to you. Often we get caught up in work and school, resulting in relationships that suffer from inattention. Recess can be an effective way to rekindle relations and besides many of the things we do are more fun to do together.

If there were space for it in an article we could discuss how the physical and psychological benefits are scientifically proven but you’ll just have to take my word for it and take a recess. Get out. Go do something.

“So long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.” – Henri Frederic Amiel