I turn the calendar to August. Instantly I’m aware it’s the final true month of summer. If I’m going to lounge by the pool, nap in a hammock, or taste the ice cream cone melting from the summer heat, I’d better get crackin’.
I admire people who effortlessly build the pleasures of play into their life. The practical joker. The GIF giver. The play in the pool just because it’s Tuesday type. They don’t wait for a season of fun to enjoy it.
In contrast, I tend to take myself and my life too seriously. My “Do your homework first then you can go out and play” outlook has gotten me plenty. The quiet approval of my overworked mom. College completion in three years with a GPA good enough to get into law school. Awards for accomplishments thereafter.
Hearing friends reminisce about high school hijinks or countless unforgettable concerts reminds me it’s cost me, too. Saturday nights laughing with roommates. Irreplaceable hours in imaginary worlds with my children. I’ve lost out on a lot of memory making.
So when August turned my thoughts to play, I did what I know how to do: Research.
I’m a huge proponent of wellness hacks. Yet I’d forgotten how play reduces rumination, lowers our inflammation, and enhances our creativity. I’ve minimized its value to my mind, body, and spirit.
While I’ve failed at making play a priority, I felt relief to learn that play comes in many forms—whimsical, intellectual, physical, and more. I don’t need to be competitive or talented to play. It’s time I end my comparison story.
I can play when I curate my collections, which includes stacks of paper filled with potential ideas. I can play when I move, which could be to music when I’m making pesto or in a moment on my yoga mat. I can play any day of the week.
I don’t have to make it so hard. I don’t need to flip the calendar to the next month to know. I’d be well served to stop pushing something so important to the end of a never-ending to do list.
With enough play practice, eventually I might just bring up that paper doll collection from the basement on some Wednesday. Just for the fun of it.
What are your favorite ways to play?
Do you build play into your everyday life?
How do you remember the importance of play when life gets busy?