How many times have you been told to 'grow up' recently? When was the last time someone laughed at you because you were simply being silly? Can you remember when you last got the giggles so badly that you nearly wet yourself? For some reason these things have all become a bit of a 'no no' when it comes to 'adulting'. In order to be taken seriously you have to act professionally at all times. No messing around, no uncontrollable laughter, no playing in the park.
I am not suggesting you go into your next business meeting wearing a clown suit and push a custard pie into your boss' face - however - I am suggesting that you take a little look at your lifestyle and check out where the fun has gone.
What did you love to do as a kid? What gave you a sense of adventure? What was play like when you were young? Did you love making dens in the woods? Who pretended they were being chased by monsters? How often did you spin around and around on the spot and then try and run in a straight line without falling over? (come on that can't have only been me??!)
When did that stop? Probably when you went to secondary school and were told to grow up, act responsibly, behave like a 'proper young lady/man'. Maybe it was even before you left primary school? Kids seem to be growing up so quickly these days (how old do I sound now!?!) and when I see 10 or 11 year olds trying desperately to look older and act more like a 'grown up' - I just want to tell them to make the most of every second of their childhood because sooner or later someone is going to tell you how to behave and all the fun and playful elements of you will be sucked away. Because play is seen as silly, pointless and unnecessary.
I really believe that one of the quickest and simplest things we can do to improve our wellbeing is to have fun and play more.
Play encourages movement, it reduces stress levels, it takes you out of your head, it gives you a natural high, it boosts energy levels, it makes you smile and feel happy... need I go on?
So why is it, that this element of our life is so often removed as an adult?
I don't care if you are a high flying business man, a 90 year old woman, a mother, a father, a teacher, a doctor... there is nobody on this planet that cannot benefit from a little bit more play in their lives.
Here are my three favourite ways to incorporate some play each and every day...
- In my yoga. Every time I get on the mat I will at least once in my practice try doing something that is a bit of fun - maybe a balance or an inversion - I may not be very good at them but I always smile as I collapse in a heap having given it a go!
- On my plate. I love to play with my food - that may mean playing with flavours or simply playing with what it looks like on the plate. It isn't just for Instagram purposes that my food looks fun and colourful - it is for my own enjoyment. And yes - sometimes I do make hearts or shapes in my food!
- In nature. I try to skip at least once on every single one of my walks. Even just for a few strides. It takes me back to when I was a child and used to skip with my friends. Sometimes I even make Mr B skip with me!! I also jump on tree trunks that have fallen, I strike a yoga pose on a rock, or attempt to balance on one foot, I jump into puddles and have even been known to crawl through dog gates as though I am on an adventure run. Yes you read that right. I, Lauren Sarah Barber occasionally get on my hands and knees to see if I can fit through the dog gates that are positioned by styles on my walk.
But even though I try and incorporate these into my daily life, I know I still don't play enough. When things are stressful or busy then play goes to the bottom of the pile - but actually it should be at the top!
Young children do not care what people think of them when they are playing. They don't worry that someone won't take them seriously, they allow their imaginations to run wild and create the most vivid, incredible games that bring so much fun to their existence. I don't see why this has to change. Do you?
Why not write down three things you can do today in order to bring an element of play to your life on a daily basis? I would love to know what you come up with, so do comment below or respond on social media.
Life can be one big adventure playground if we let it be. Let's see if we can take things a little less seriously, just for a short while, and bring fun back to the top of our priorities.