The frantic pace of modern life has made genuine relationships and the experience of pure fun a rarity. We often become lost in a routine of caring for others, managing our homes and juggling every other request that comes our way. And without the balance of the simple pleasures of life, stress can take over your life like uninvited ivy on a trellis.
Some common belief barriers to having fun include:
It’s selfish to indulge in fun things.
I feel guilty if I am doing nothing or relaxing.
I don’t have time for fun.
One must be serious about life to survive.
It will take away from family time if I have any individual fun.
Making time for fun adds many benefits, including:
Enlivens your spirit and attitude
Connects people and is contagious
Enhances all relationships
Improves health and reduces the dangers of stress on your body, mind and spirit
Here are six suggestions for simple stress relievers you can enjoy today:
- Laughter adds life ~ Research has shown the health benefits of laughter, ranging from strengthening the immune system to increasing one’s threshold for pain. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine, adrenalin and dopamine. And laughter also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Further, laughter provides a physical and emotional release. Laughter is contagious! When you bring more laughter into your life, you bring it into the lives of those around you.
- Humor heals ~ Humor is a universal language; everyone can relate to funny stories. Initiate humor in your life – watch a funny TV show or movie, visit a comedy show; listen to others (on TV or radio) who make you laugh.
- Connect ~ There are few experiences in life that rival the satisfactions and pleasure of friendships. Break free from isolation of your hum-drum day, free from the responsibilities of your busy work day. Choose friends who inspire and enliven you. Connect with these friends over a peaceful cup of coffee, or take your dogs for a walk together. It only takes a small amount of time to feel the power of connection with a good friend, or a new friend. Relationships reduce stress by enriching our perspective and encouraging us to be our best.
- Catch up ~ What if you could reconnect with an old friend and catch up on each other’s lives? Remembering the joy and laughter and hugs you used to share may motivate you to give them a call. Sometimes friendships end up taking the backseat, and although they take time and effort, the rewards are immeasurable. Do not let these personal connections fade. A simply note or phone call could be a big boost for both of you!
- Change activities ~ Add some variety and vary the routine of your average day. Many times we just go through the motions of the family schedule, and we lose connection with those we are closest to. Pick one day this week to do something totally new and unusual. Pick something that sounds enjoyable and challenging. Select a playful task that include all family members, and do something that you would typically not do. Laugh at yourself in the process. It is not the end of the world when the new Dad-installed window treatments start tumbling down.
- Creative cooking ~ Let food be fun! Eating is something all families do. Why not clear the countertops, print off some recipes you watched on TV or dust one of those cookbooks off the shelf? Be carefree. Be creative. Make a family dinner together, where everyone plays a part. Enjoy the process of contributing to a final product – one that you will enjoy eating (hopefully)! But, hey, if it doesn’t exactly turn out like the picture, just try it!
- Seek silliness ~ Sadly many people spend their entire lives hearing messages like these: “Stop acting like a kid;” “There’s work to be done, stop being silly.” How about visiting a local playhouse, playing in the park or seeing that goofy new animated kid’s movie? We can still be responsible adults, but we also need to actively integrate folly and fun to balance the stress of our lives.
- Set aside seriousness ~ In what area of your life, do you need to take a large dose of a “chill pill?” Being overly serious or analytical can be a strain on your body, your brain and on those around you. A child and her naturally curiosity is appealing to me. They are not afraid to ask questions. They seek to know more about their environment, and don’t get hung up on process and procedure. We can still be practical but not be entrapped with perfectionism or paralysis of analysis.
- A hobby ~ What is something you really used to enjoy doing, but now feel you “just don’t have the time?” Try carving out just 30 minutes to read, or paint or do crossword puzzles. Spend some time savoring joy and wonder for yourself. Also, what is something you have always wanted to try but never got around to it? At least make some phone calls to obtain more information–about that invigorating challenge of sky-diving, or rollerblading or writing children’s stories. At any age, hobbies are fun and healthy!
- A group ~ If you enjoy mystery novels, join a book club. If you want to learn more about perennials, annuals or forsythias, find a gardening group. How fun and enriching to be with others and enjoy a common activity! Join a group and maximize your delight and pleasure of fun.
- Surprise someone ~ Share your sense of thrill and fun with others! Surprise someone with your thoughtfulness. Invite a neighbor, or a parent from the carpool, or an acquaintance at the hardware store to do something fun together. Find favor in yourself and others and surprise someone today.
- Share your “gifts” ~ True happiness is doing for others. And when you utilize your strengths and your gifts, the task seems effortless. Put a smile on someone’s face – your bridge club members, your aunt or your spouse – and do something for them that you are gifted at. Could you bake a cake, arrange flowers or hang pictures? Remember your talents and gifts and when you share those with others, you share more than the item or the action: you share your delight and appreciation of them.