A lot of Catholics believe that since God is always calling them to serve Him, they can’t really relax. In other words, relaxation is selfish. That is not true. Every person needs some downtime each day to refresh their mind and body after a hard day’s work. Refer to Ideal 6.3 in Chapter 6: Health for more information on that. This chapter is about how best to use my leisure time to ensure I gain the most healing from it without getting carried away.
Ideal 7.1: I should schedule my sleep time.
I need sleep to stay healthy as stated in the last chapter. The best chance to get the right number of hours for sleep is to schedule sleep. That means setting the alarm and going to bed on time. It’s okay during vacation or special occasions to relax this, but most days I should be going to bed on time. I should set the alarm to 8am, and go to bed by 12am every night. If noise or other distractions outside my control make my sleep quality worse, I should give myself more sleep time the next day. Maybe that means going to bed by 10pm or setting the alarm to 10am. I will lose some free time, but getting good sleep might be worth it.
Ideal 7.2: I should turn off internet-connected devices by 9pm.
Praying and studying the faith should be done every night. I can increase the chances that I will do them by setting a limit on internet use after a certain time. Since I go to bed at 12am, disconnecting at 9pm will give me 3 hours every night to pray and study. Other activities I can use this time for are reading, writing, exercising, and playing single player video games. The internet is very fast paced. It can be hard to sleep right after using the internet. By disconnecting early, I will also improve my sleep quality.
I should be cautious with the video games though because computers and modern consoles all have internet access. If I play video games, make sure the device I am using has internet access turned off. All modern consoles have parental controls I can use to achieve this. For computers, I can download free software with the same functionality. If I can’t find a satisfactory solution, I just have to not play video games after 9pm.
Ideal 7.3: I should install an internet filter on all internet-connected devices.
Pornography is a constant temptation for some people. I should never let myself get to that point by just blocking pornography and other bad things from the start. These days desktop computers, laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and video game consoles all have internet access. A variety of free and paid software is available for these devices to block pornography. If the device cannot block it, my only option is to disable internet access on that device. The same software might also be capable of disabling the internet connection. This is a sacrifice but a good one. I should always limit any possible temptation in every way possible. Smart TVs in particular probably won’t have an option to block pornography, but they should have a way to turn off internet access. Even better, I just shouldn’t buy a smart TV since internet access is the primary feature.
Ideal 7.4: I should avoid immoral movies or TV shows.
An immoral movie or TV show is one that glorifies drug use, violence, or sex. Anti-Catholic, or more generally anti-religion, movies and shows would also be immoral. It doesn’t matter how good the acting is or how amazing the special effects are if the content is immoral. Over time they can lead me to loosen my own morals, causing me to sin more. I should feed my spirit good material by watching movies and TV shows with good morals. They don’t have to be Catholic or religious. Nature shows and sports games are always great. Reality shows can be good if they send a positive message and the people featured have good morals. There are also many educational shows and documentary movies.
Ideal 7.5: It’s okay to waste some leisure time.
Parents know that kids need to have a mixture of structured time and unstructured time. During structured time the activities are pre-planned, and kids are expected to make progress in their learning. During unstructured time the kids are allowed to make their own decisions and find their own things to do. This is called play, and it’s very healthy. Many adults forget about this when they grow up. Not all time needs to be productive. It’s okay to “waste” some time. The thing is it’s not actually wasteful.
It turns out that some unproductive time is very healthy. It is actually productive towards being healthy to waste some time. This means, for example, that watching TV or chatting with friends is fine. I probably am not making progress towards any goals doing these things, but that’s fine. Not all of my free time should be like this but some of it should be. A healthy amount of unproductive time is around 1 hour per day. More than an hour, and I really am starting to waste time. Less than an hour, and I’m not getting enough time to unwind.