The Leisure Hours

Then comes the return from business. Here once more the ordinary

method of getting on a crowded train, standing up to be pushed and

jammed, to have all sorts of unpleasant things happen, to have the

pessimism of one's nature stirred to its depths by the utter disregard

for women, the heedless rush of men, the roughness of railroad

employees, and the general lack of humanity that characterizes the

evening rush from business in a large city, is eminently unsuitable as

a preparation for dinner; while a calm walk of three to five miles is

ideal. To walk home will probably take twenty minutes or half an hour

longer, but not more than this--and it avoids the undesirable features

of the usual method.

Gymnastics.--Occasionally one finds that men rush through the last

hour of business in order to spend an hour in a gymnasium. Often this

is quite undesirable. Exercise within doors, taken in a routine manner

and merely for the sake of exercise, with no diversion of mind, is

eminently unsuitable for the busy man. What he needs is air much more

than exercise. Walking out of doors is the very best thing for him. If

he walks at a rapid pace, swinging his arms a little freely and

carrying a cane in one hand and perhaps a book in the other, because

this exercises his fingers and keeps him from having any unpleasant

congestion of the hands when they hang down, then the exercise is

almost ideal. Owing to the novelty of it, and the interest that a new

occupation arouses, great benefit will at first be derived from the

gymnasium. Very often, too, the cold plunge after the exercise does

more good than the exercise itself. The plunge is real fun, especially

when taken with many others, but the exercise itself is likely to

degenerate into the sorriest kind of a task. If the man who walks home

will take a bath before dinner, the temperature of the water being

made suitable to him and the reaction that comes to his particular

nature, there is no need of anything else, and there is nothing better

that he could do. The walk must be varied. The course must not always

be through the same streets. Occasionally it should even lead

one to see some monument or new building, or to go out of the way with

a friend, so that variety is introduced.

Work at Home.--There are men who in busy times take some of their work

home with them. This is a mistake. And though it is the custom to tell

the doctor that they cannot do otherwise, it is practically always a

bit of self-deception. When the case is properly put before them, they

realize, if they already have any neurotic symptoms, that to continue

home work will be a serious risk. Most men who carry business home

with them, easily get into the habit of pushing certain details away

from them during the day with the idea that they will have more time

for that in the evening. They do a certain amount of dawdling over

their work. If they really resolved to finish work during business

hours they could do it, and do it better than during the evening at

home. Six hours of work is about all that a man ought to do with his

intellect at high pressure. This should be pretty well divided into

two periods of three hours each, with an interval of an hour to an

hour and a half between. The nearer a man can come to this arrangement

the better for him, and the better, also, for his affairs. If he has

assumed obligations that require more of his time and attention than

this, he is trying to do too much.

After-Dinner Hours.--The evening hours and their proper occupation are

important for the business man, or for anyone who is much occupied

during the day. The temptation to let the work of the day run over

into the evening must be overcome at all costs, or it will prove

serious for the health of most men. It is important as far as possible

to get something completely different for men to do at night. Many men

settle down to the reading of a newspaper or of a magazine or novel.

While this does very well under some circumstances, reading does not

provide diversion whenever there is serious worry or solicitude over

business matters. A man may think that he is occupying himself with

the newspaper, but we all know very well that business cares intrude,

that business troubles are often doubled by reading about others. The

reading of novels does well for a while, but the serious-minded man

tires of them and then, while they may occupy a couple of hours, they

have exactly the same objection as the newspaper. A genuine diversion

should give the physical basis of mind an opportunity literally to

remake itself by storing up new energies.

Amusements.--The fact of the matter is that a man must have, if

possible, some other serious interest in life besides his business. He

must have a hobby. We have discussed this in the chapter on Diversion

of Mind and refer to it here only to indicate the importance of

knowing something about a man's recreation as well as his work. It is

not a casual occupation but a real interest that he should have. This

need not necessarily be a useful employment and, indeed, it may be

absolutely useless provided it is absorbing. Card playing is an

excellent diversion for many people. When joined with gambling, new

worries and feverish excitement usually make it harmful for neurotic

persons. Chess is hard work, but of a different kind from that of the

day and, therefore, often makes an excellent recreation. Any games are

good. Bowling, for instance, is excellent, and billiards, if a man has

an interest in it, is a fine sport for evening hours. It has the added

advantage of physical exercise. A man does not sit down during

billiards, crowding his already well-distended abdominal

viscera, but walks around and gives his viscera a better chance for

their work and aids rather than retards peristalsis.

Encroachment on Sleep.--There is just one defect about some of the

more absorbing recreations--they keep a man up too late. Whenever a

so-called recreation takes up such time that a man has less than eight

full hours in bed, then a mistake, almost sure to be serious sooner or

later, is being made. When the physician tries to limit a man's

recreation by suggesting an earlier hour for retirement, he may be

told that his patient must have some time for diversion and

recreation. But the physician must insist that no form of recreation

is as good as sleep, and any other form must be limited in order that

sleep may be obtained. A man may easily regulate his affairs so that

he shall have eight hours of sleep, and it is only negligence of such

regulation that gives him the idea that recreation cannot be obtained

except after eleven o'clock at night. Little suppers after the theater

are often fine diversions, but whenever they interfere with sleep they

must not be allowed except at long intervals. Other diversions that

keep a man out of bed after midnight are sure not to do good in the

long run, though an occasional lapse in this matter may prove a

stimulant rather than a depressant. It is custom that must be

regulated; an occasional variant from it is rather good than


Leisure of the Working Woman.--A woman's occupation, unlike a man's,

holds out little future for her. Her occupation does not arouse her

ambition. Daily work is a monotonous grind that must be endured for

the sake of the wages that it brings. For a time this serves to occupy

attention. After some years, when the prospects of matrimony grow

less, and further advance is out of the question, women often need to

have some special interest that will grip them. The working woman may

then need to be tempted to some occupation of mind, especially with

the companionship of others, that will give her renewed interests in

life. Clubs, charities in which they are active, friends, serious

intellectual interests, must all be appealed to, in different cases,

in order to secure diversion. Women must have something to look

forward to each week. They must know on Monday that before the

following Sunday there is going to be a theater party, a lecture, a

visit to friends, something to break the deadliness of weekly routine,

which is anticipated with pleasure and then pleasantly remembered.

This may seem to be only a slight matter, but it is of importance in

many cases.

Feminine Occupations.--The occupations of women who stay at home are

even more important than those of women who go out to work. In our

time the root of much nervousness, as it is called, neurotic symptoms

of various kinds and of many symptoms apparently quite distant from

real nervousness, is really a lack of occupation. Many women who live

in apartment hotels have almost nothing with which to occupy their

minds. They are not obliged to get up in the morning if they do not

want to, or, at least, any excuse, however slight, serves to keep them

in bed. Very often there are either no children or the mother has

nothing to do with her children early in the morning. After the age of

three, they go off to kindergarten; later on they go to school.

Breakfast is sent up, there may be a nap of an hour or two after the

meal, and often a magazine is glanced over lying in bed, and perhaps

it will be twelve o'clock before madame gets up. Anyone in a position

to do this, and who allows the habit to grow, is sure to be profoundly

miserable. Without any real occupation of mind, the mind

occupies itself with the body and emphasizes every sensation, evokes

new pains and aches, and the consequence is likely to be a highly

neurotic state.

Such women have nothing serious to think about in the afternoon. At

best it is a luncheon engagement with a friend, or attendance at the

matinee, or a lecture, or a meeting of a club. For a while, and for a

certain few, these things are satisfying, but after they have been

indulged in for a time, they pall so completely on most people as to

leave them almost helplessly at the mercy of their feelings. These

persons may have some favorite charities that occupy part of their

time. They may have other interests, but most of these interests are

quite amateurish. They create no obligations; they arouse no sense of

duty; they are abandoned at a moment for anything else that turns up,

and consequently they lack that absorbing power that a real interest

gives. It is quite impossible that these people should be either happy

or healthy. These ladies of leisure sometimes have fads for physical

exercise that keep them from becoming absolutely sluggish, but except

in a few cases, these fads pall after a time, and in a few years women

of the leisure classes are generally without any interest that will

save them from themselves. The root of many a case of nervousness that

wanders from physician to physician and then from quack to quack, and

from charlatan of one kind to charlatan of another kind, that takes up

now this remedy and now that, and advertises each new method of

healing--mental, hypnotic, mechanical--is due to nothing more serious

than lack of proper occupation of mind.

The Ambition to Have Nothing to Do.--It seems to be the ambition of

everyone to reach a place in life so that he can give up work and do

nothing. Men and women often envy those whose material situation is

such that they are not compelled to work. It is from the leisure

classes, however, that our neurotic invalids are mainly recruited. The

symptoms these people give will sometimes make one wonder whether they

may not be suffering from some serious ailment, but just as soon as

the details of their daily occupation are gone into, the real cause

for their complaints can be readily seen. Nothing will do them any

lasting good until they get interested enough in life to be distracted

from themselves. Such men and women are invalids by profession. They

are profoundly to be pitied, for they are much more the victims of

present-day social conditions than of any special fault of their own.

They go from one health resort to another seeking relief and now and

again finding it, not because of any special effect of the remedies

that they take, but just in proportion to the amount of diversion and

occupation of mind they are able to secure in their wanderings. After

a time they relapse, then, the old cures having lost novelty, the

physician who succeeds in occupying their minds does them good; his

brother physician, who does not, fails; but anyone else, however

absurd his quackery, who can in any way catch their attention, will

benefit them at least for the time being.

Business Anxieties.--The physician should know all that concerns such

sources of excitement, worry and anxiety, as are suggested by the

words speculation, investment, going on bonds and securities,

especially when the person bonded gets into trouble. Fortunately most

of these latter sources of worry have been eliminated by the bonding

companies of recent years. Details of this kind were given to

the old family physician as a matter of course. With the going out of

the family physician there has often been no one to replace him in

hearing such stories, and it has been harder for some to bear the

consequences in solitude. The very telling of many cares lessens the

burden of them. The warnings of a medical friend may be more effective

in keeping a man from serious loss than those of financial friends.

Everyone realizes that the physician's advice is quite unselfish and

that what he objects to, even more than the danger and loss of money,

is worry and anxiety which may lead to loss of health.

For ordinary therapeutic purposes, the physician may be content to

know only the physical signs and symptoms of his patient's affection.

For psychotherapeutics, he must, if he would be successful, know every

possible source of worry and annoyance and, as nearly as may be

ascertained, every slight phase of physical fatigue that may be a

disturbing factor in his patient's life. It is surprising how many

things the physician will find to correct when he carefully goes over

all the actions of the day and ascertains all the possible sources of

worry and anxiety his patient may have. It may happen that in many

cases he will be unable immediately to remove these sources of worry.

But there is relief in telling them, and then, even when they cannot

be completely eradicated, they can often be modified. Every

improvement of this kind, however slight, is a fountain of favorable

suggestion which makes the patient look on the brighter side of life.

From every amelioration, however trivial, there is a reaction on the

feelings that gives more and more confidence.

The Influence Of Body On Mind The Mechanism Of The Influence Of Mind On Body facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail