In today’s busy world, there’s a certain stigma against relaxation. Think about it. Do you ever feel guilty when you take the time to sit around, read a good book, or take a nap? Society both envies and frowns when grown-ups play. We’re taught that hard work is equivalent to being a good, productive citizen and playing wastes time. This attitude sometimes makes us feel guilty for staying home with our children, too, as though raising kids wasn’t work. It is also at the root of our mommy guilt–you know, the constant nagging feeling that you aren’t doing enough.
But, even though a good work ethic is important, it’s also crucial to understand that your brain needs to relax in order to function at its best. Allowing our minds to wander and taking time for leisure are critical to our productivity. Without doing so, you’re prone to burnout and frustration. And that means that grown-ups play! Yes, have some fun doing the things that you love. Follow these tips to put more play into your life and to feel more rejuvenated.
Ways Grown-ups Play
Play a Game
Yes, I mean an actual game. The kind doesn’t matter, as there are benefits to all sorts of games. Board games bring people together, allowing you to connect in a social manner and spend time with people who matter. Multi-player video games don’t offer the same relational benefits. I like to pull out favorites from my own childhood and invite the whole family. Then, grown-ups play and teens play all together. We like Rummy, Uno, Parcheesi, Scrabble, and Clue. I like that you get to use your brain in different ways such as through focusing on strategy or logic.
These brainy benefits also come through solo games, too, though. Even a crossword puzzle is a chance to rev up different parts of your brain than you don’t ordinarily use throughout your day. An online game such as Solitaire delivers benefits of its own, if you prefer an electronic option and aren’t able to get together with others. For me, it’s a last resort, but maybe you prefer it.
Grown-ups Play Outdoors
It’s not only kids who benefit from outdoor play. Adults gain the same benefits! Get out there and kick the ball around, play catch, ride your bike, or go sledding. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Try rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, ice skating, or swimming. The important thing is to move your body and have fun doing it. Feeling the wind in my hair as I fly down the hill on my bike is exhilarating, taking me back to childhood. Another rejuvenating option for me is kayaking in a nearby small lake or lagoon (not to mention Lake Michigan). What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
Imaginative Play with Kids
Even though we’re home with our kids all day, we may get so busy that we don’t actually play with them. When was the last time you had tea time with your daughters and their dolls or stuffed animals? How about crash ’em up cars with your sons? Flexing our imaginations from time to time keeps us young and allows our minds to continue to grow in creativity. Creativity makes us more resilient in the face of stressful situations.
Engage in Your Favorite Activity
Choose your favorite activity for unwinding. Even if that’s watching TV, allow yourself the small pleasure of enjoying a great program. Reading a book, heading to the movies, or picking up a hobby like knitting are also good choices. Anything that allows you to escape the stressors of your daily life will suffice. As long as it’s something you like and think is fun, do it! One of my favorites is reading clean fantasy novels.
Finally, I’d like to close by letting you know it’s even okay to do nothing at all. Taking a moment with yourself and your thoughts might actually be one of the best ways to unwind. It’s definitely something most of us don’t do often enough. Make your choice and start playing today. You’ll feel so much better.