Flow

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With the stress of school starting up again weighing heavily on my shoulders, my biggest worry is that I will not find the time to do the things I love. Given that schooling occurs inside (where I am an outdoorsman) it gives me pause to think about how many people love the outdoors and just don’t know it yet. Schools and much of society do not put much emphasis on outdoor education whether in the realms of conservation or recreation.

The culmination of this negligence, whether intended or not, is the fact that much of today’s generation will not understand what is available to them. School sports include the stereotypical soccer, track, football, baseball, etc. and clubs may include skiing, fishing, and climbing but the latter set are oftentimes overshadowed by more traditional clubs. If perhaps schools made more focus on accommodating lesser known pastimes, more students who sit on the bench or stands during conventional sports will find something that they enjoy and could pursue.

I believe that much of youth’s obsession with electronic pastimes and their ilk stem from the lack of other options they feel they have. The importance of beneficial outlets especially among young men and women has been supported by a diverse range of studies. Simplest among them are comparisons in grade averages between athletes and non-athletes. The athletes, especially those that are in their sport season, generally tend to have higher grade average than that of their peers. Unsurprisingly in my own school sports career, I vividly recollect conversations with my coach who reminded me of this fact when I informed him I would not be competing that year.

“Just be careful because remember that athletes grades tend to drop when not in a sport.”

Thanks coach. I have a life.

This phrase can be taken as disrespectful, but it’s an important thing to note that it does imply I have no life outside of my sports to suggest grades require too much focus for me if I am not focused on my athleticism.

I don’t advise, nay, I strongly advise against turning to a T.V. or computer or phone as an alternative to your daily activities. Replacing these things for a sport only will lead to negative results. It is certainly easy to feel as if lounging in a chair playing video games is the epitome of relaxation; however, this act in actuality will stimulate the brain at levels far from true relaxation.

Even watching T.V. offers the brain enough stimulation to deaden the body and be enveloped into an addict’s state of attention. The problem with television in all its forms is that it takes little to no effort to enjoy. The feeling of sluggishness and apathy in everyday life can be attributed to overstimulation. That in turn will cause problems in attentiveness and overall mood.

Now, in particular, high school are given a fallacy known as bifurcation or “either/or” which is an argument that mislabels information to appear as if there are only two options to choose from when in reality there are more. From my own experience most high school students are given only these two choices; television or sports. Many are unaware of the vast amount of choices they actually have because no longer are they necessary nor important to modern day life. I will procure a list of hobbies that remain mostly obsolete only in the context of necessity but are still viable hobbies:

Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, running, walking (without the phone), bird-watching, sewing, metal-detecting, rock-climbing, leatherworking, programming, writing, reading, model building, archery, bushcraft, gardening, cooking, photography, model rockets, martial arts, and innumerable others.

Now, after you saw the class for music appreciation (which can be a hobby in and of itself), where was the merits of outdoor recreation class you wanted? Huh. Maybe it’s next to “leisure sports”? Nope. But who cares right? Wrong.

There are a plethora of alternatives to well-known sports and the vast majorities don’t know what they offer. Perhaps heard of them, but never tried or really understood them.

Interestingly enough, my grades are fine without sports and somehow I survive not plugging in a TV as if I were mainlining drugs into my body.

The definition of outlet as I use it is a beneficial medium in order to relieve stress through deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is different from conventional practice because it is more purely focused and will put a person into a state of focus that relaxes the body and mind. It is a state of “flow” almost to be described as actively meditating. Flow can also be described as a state of complete immersion in an activity. This state is an important precursor to stress relief. With today’s social interaction and technology connectivity, the amounts of possible distractions are distressingly large. It’s too easy to be distracted.

Flow as achieved by video games is negative overstimulation.

See a pattern?

My point is this: It cannot be overstated enough that you and I need alternative hobbies to work or sports in order to have a healthy and wholesome state-of-mind.

On one side, I’m worried about how busy I’ll be, on the other, I sleep soundly knowing that I have my outlets for dealing with it.

Most of them, the best of them, just happen to be outside.

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