Showing posts with label relax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relax. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Importance of Play

I admit: I tend to get a bit addicted to work. If something grabs my attention, I can be completely absorbed without much thought for anything else. But even if you are working at a job you don’t love, scheduling play in our lives when we have so many other things to isn’t easy. But here’s the thing: play’s incredibly important.

  • Play releases stress. We live in a world where stress is chronic – from our children’s sport commitments, to our careers, even to our families and friends – there is always something that needs done, yesterday. When we let go and do something we enjoy, all that intensity falls away. Think about it: ever notice your shoulder starting to creep towards your ears, or maybe your legs restlessly tapping, because the stress you’re under makes you tense? When we sit back and laugh with friends, move our bodies in an activity we love, or simply relax, it not only adjusts our mindset, but releases the strain.
  • Play refreshes our brain. When we’ve spent too much time focused on work and schedules, our mind closes down to possibility. Our creative juices disappear. We’re less effective at our jobs because our problem solving narrows into one focus, and we struggle to see another perspective. When we get away from it all for a short time, we return with renewed vigor and a fresh viewpoint and become more effective.
  • Play is fun. For some reason, when we became responsible adults, fun became a foreign idea! When we’re children, play is all that exists. But as we age, we get further and further away from the joy of play. And with that shift comes the unpleasant realities of depression and anxiety. One of the best medicines for a sad mind is to have fun.

Okay, so you’re sold on playing more in your life, right? But how do you do it? Where do you find the time? The good news: it’s super easy! Play may mean going on vacation, but it doesn’t have to. When was the last time you smiled? The last time you can remember really having a good time? What’s something you always say you’re going to do, “when I have the time” or “when life slows down?”

For some of us, play means sporting activities, like tag football, basketball, or golf. Perhaps you may prefer taking a hike, attending a hula-hoop class, or even enjoying yoga. But if those activities constitute exercise for you, and not fun, then they don’t count as play!

Consider activities like enjoying a movie or board game with your family, creative pursuits like drawing, painting, or writing, relaxing with a good book, or playing fetch with the dog. For some, having lunch with a friend, going on a long drive, or gardening represent pleasure.

And your desire may change from week to week! Perhaps this week you can afford a massage, and next week, you want to try a jewelry making class. Whatever it may be, let your play bring healing to your soul, new thoughts to your life, and respite to your mind.

What elements of play do you work into your life – weekly or daily? Where do you want to add more play into your life? 

Contributing Writer

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Importance of Doing Nothing

We all mention (at times, complain) that we live in a constantly on-the-go world. Whether it’s having a family that has to go to different events every night of the week, multiple jobs, or juggling getting additional education and paying your bills, we feel the squeeze on our time and energy. Everything (and often, everyone) pushes us to be more and do more. And we find ourselves in a quandary: unable to add one more thing to our busy to-do list, and desperately wanting to throw up our hands in defeat, hide under the covers, and not do anything at all.

To do list

Wait a minute: What if you really did nothing? I don’t mean for weeks on end, but what if, instead of taking a vacation where you pack up everyone and everything, make a gazillion arrangements and stress about itinerary switch ups, you simply took a week and did, well, nothing?

It sounds crazy, but as someone who recently had to evaluate her health and lifestyle, let me share with you some of the benefits of sitting on your bum – and why you should consider it.

You realize just how much you do. Let me tell you – I was underestimating just how much I got done in a day. While working forty hours a week, I managed to grocery shop, make 90% of our meals from scratch, spend time with friends and family, and keep the house going. Did I mention I color my own hair and do my own nails? And let’s not forget about my second and third jobs, freelancing (like I do here as a writer) and health coaching. That’s a long week. No wonder I was tired all the time!

You find you are chronically stressed out. One of the things I’ve learned as a health coach working with busy clients is that we are never accurate judges of how much stress we have on our shoulders. Acute stress is when a bear is chasing you, and you run for your life – brief and intense. Chronic stress is when you live with the bear (many of you know what I mean!) It is low-level, constant stress, and in today’s world, we exist this way, often for years at a time. Some of us never get away from it. And it takes its toll on our mental and physical health.

You discover how much sleep you actually need. Prior to the last year, I rarely got more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep. Eight hours? Who needs that much sleep? I went with the old adage: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The problem, however, is that I was killing myself with exhaustion. When my doctor told me sleep and relaxation mattered, I rolled my eyes and asked for more blood tests. But after over a year of being tired, I was willing to give my doc’s suggestion a try. Surprise! I need – just like every other average human – 8-9.5 hours. Turns out I’m not superwoman who can go on less than 7 hours and still set the world on fire. Guess what? Neither are you. You’ll be amazed at how your mood improves, your well-being increases, and your overall life enjoyment gets better, just from getting more shut-eye.

Relaxing on couch

You see how much you are being depended on…and sometimes, maybe even used. We love our friends and family. We enjoy doing things for them and being needed. But there are times when people get carried away with how much they lean on us. Taking a week off, focusing on your own needs, allows you to re-assess, and perhaps address some unfair situations that could be affecting your relationships and adding stress to your life. It may give you a chance to evaluate on how doing one task may take away from your enjoyment of spending time with your children, your partner, or your own interests.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating becoming a couch potato for weeks on end! But giving yourself time to reflect as the new year starts, being honest about what we are capable of, and more than anything, giving ourselves permission to simply be and not allow our “lack of doing” to diminish our value in our own eyes. It’s worth some down time to ponder.

Contributing Writer