How stressed have you been feeling lately?
How overwhelmed have you been?
How exhausted have you felt?
Well, have you ever thought that playing more might just be the answer you’re looking for?
Whether you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious or you’ve just been noticing that you’re taking life a little too seriously, it’s time for more PLAY!
When we were younger we had multiple designated play times every day. Our parents, guardians, teachers, elders all knew the importance that play had in terms of our development and how essential it was to give us the creative space we needed to relax, unwind and grow. Every couple of hours we were given a break where we could explore and switch off from all that we had been taught and that way we were more present when we went back into the classroom.
The older we get, the less time we give ourselves to play until it almost becomes non-existent. Life suddenly becomes about work, it becomes about earning a living, about looking after our families, doing the house cleaning and grocery shopping. A friend of mine recently reminded me of this saying which I think describes this perfectly.
“Are you living to work, Or working to live?”
The more seriously we take life, the more control we establish in every area of our lives. It becomes so important for us to get our daily to-do’s done that we forget about taking that ‘time out’ and more importantly, we completely forget the importance that play has in our lives. Even though we’re no longer 3, 5 or 10 – having designated time to play is just as important – we are still the same human being, we are the same person we have always been, the only thing that’s changed is our age and how many cycles around the sun we have experienced. It doesn’t change the fact that we still need to have fun!
The older we get, the more responsibilities we accumulate – let’s face it, we didn’t have to worry about changing the duvet cover, having to wake up earlier to go to the gym before work or meal prepping every Sunday! I know it’s easier to argue that we had more time to play when we were younger because we didn’t have as many responsibilities. In fact, having that time to unwind, de-stress and have fun becomes increasingly MORE important as we grow older because we DO have MORE responsibilities.
The more we have to be accountable to, the more we have on our everyday to-do lists, the more we have to show up fully and in the best way possible to tackle every day. If we’re not in the best, most vibrant state possible then we’re going to fall short. Well, there’s just no time for that is there? So we work harder and harder, accumulate more and more pressure, live with chronic low grade stress and then expect that we will be able to be the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves possible. The truth is, you’re not going to be your most vibrant self if you’re living on the go with chronic low grade stress. You might feel fantastic every now and again, you might be living off cold pressed green juices and eat kale daily, you might even be going to the gym 5 times a week, practise yoga and experiment with dietary lifestyles such as paleo or veganism. But (and this is a big ‘but’), if you’re not giving your body a break from that stress, anxiety and exhaustion then you’re still selling yourself short.
Stop taking yourself too seriously. Yes, there has to be professionalism at work and yes, you do have to be the responsible role model for your children – but what about every other moment in your life? I know so many people (and I include myself in this) that take themselves WAY too seriously. If you take yourself too seriously then you’re not allowing yourself to feel true freedom; you’re not opening yourself up to the possibility of change, growth or development.
When you take yourself seriously you know exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it should be done. You go through life constantly on the go trying to accomplish absolutely everything you think you need to and if you don’t, well, it’s just unacceptable. I know exactly how that feels. Every day I would set myself unrealistic to-do lists of walking the dogs, cleaning the entire house, working insane hours, cooking, doing the food shop, engaging in a loving relationship with my husband. I needed to get EVERYTHING done EVERYDAY and if I didn’t then I had failed in some way; I hadn’t achieved everything I knew I could. We are all our own harshest critics and I especially felt that on those days when I didn’t get everything done. In fact, I felt guilty and ashamed.
I had this pattern of thought that if I didn’t take myself seriously enough, I would get everything done. If I didn’t take myself seriously then who would? If I didn’t take myself seriously then how on earth was I going to prove people wrong about who Zenny was and what she was capable of. Until one day I realised something:
Life is way too short and time goes by way too fast. Life is meant to be experienced and enjoyed! If you’re taking yourself too seriously then you’re not allowing yourself to open up to that enjoyment AT ALL! If you’re trying to control everything all the time then where is that room for spontaneity? Where is the opportunity for exploration?
Life is about -
When we allow ourselves to be open to all of those, we give ourselves the permission to play, to have a break, to unwind and to connect back to our centre and true self. That’s exactly what we needed when we were younger and it’s exactly why we need it now. Play time was essential for our growth and development but more importantly than that, it was important just to have FUN!
When was the last time you had fun?
Like really let loose and allowed yourself to go wild? When was the last time you had uncontrolled fits of laughter? When was the last time you felt completely free and exhilarated?
As we get older, even the fun we experience becomes controlled. It’s at a specific time of day, with a specific person or group of people. Maybe it’s one or two activities you allow yourself to do. Maybe you can only allow yourself time to relax if you get x, y or z done first. Sound familiar?
What would happen if you let go of that control? How would it affect you and your life?
Ask yourself this: What’s the worst that could happen?
When we were younger we never thought about the consequences, we just had fun. There was no overthinking involved, it was spontaneous and free. We had the freedom in our minds to let ourselves explore without worrying what would happen next. We never played with our friends worrying about who’s going to do the laundry!
There will always be things to do. We will always have 101 things on our to-do list and we will always show up to get those things done – but give yourself a break. Just because you don’t have someone telling you to have a break doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one. Life is too short to take everything so seriously and it’s time to start having some fun. Loosen yourself up and let go of that control. Free yourself to enjoy a bit of play time.
Play can be anything from dragging your partner to the bedroom to going to a dance class. For me, my play time is laughing, having tickle fights and dance parties with Ben. I love playing board games, doing cross words and painting. Try and incorporate some spontaneity into your life, do something wild, something out of the ordinary and something that brings your pure joy and happiness. Although it might seem like you’re wasting valuable time where you could have been ticking off some to-dos – the play time you allow yourself is the most precious time. Why? Because it brings you back to your core self, you experience joy and because of that experience life to it’s fullest. At the end of the day isn’t that what we all want?