Do you love to sing, or dance, or laugh, or paint? If so, when was the last time you enjoyed your passion? “Fun is good for you” seems like an obvious statement but it’s as well to keep reminding ourselves, as it’s all too easy to get bogged down in dull, everyday routines and forget the joys of frivolity and self-expression. And, in case you need convincing, here’s some scientific explanation of how recreational activities bring us joy.
- Creative, enjoyable activities increase the brain’s production of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, positive hormones that sharpen neuron connectivity, making you feel good and more able to shrug off stress and depression.
- Happiness stimulates neurone connectivity, which in turn makes you feel stress-free and relaxed. It’s a self-reinforcing process.
- Greater neuronal connectivity increases the production of white matter, which is important in the process of the connectivity process and is at the core of the brain’s learning centre.
- When all your senses are activated, your motor neurones are fully engaged and stimulated, thereby causing your brain to operate efficiently and effectively, which is good for your overall health.
- Lack of physical or mental activity means that your brain cells stop connecting so, make sure that as you age, you continue to be active in all that you enjoy.
So, it’s official! However, even though having fun is undeniably good for everyone, busy people often struggle to make room in their lives for this fundamentally therapeutic activity. Burdened by responsibilities, worried about money or battling ill-health, it comes low on their list of priorities. But there are many ways to make sure that fun works its way towards the top Here are a few of them
- Make a list of the things you really like to do, then make sure you schedule them in. Don’t leave it to chance that you might have spare time for them.
- Take a look at your ‘to-do’ list and build in some spontaneity. Leave a couple of hours blank and label them “fun time”.
- Use something you’ve been saving for “best”, like that garment that makes you feel great but you only wear at parties. Put it on and enjoy it – just for fun.
- Choose to spend time in the company of people with whom you always find yourself laughing. Don’t just wait until you bump into them. Call them and get a date in the diary.
- Opt for alternative exercise. Drop the boring circuit classes and go for a run in the fresh air, where you can see the trees and hear the birdsong.
- Swap crime for comedy. Give your favourite crime writer a rest and pick up a light-hearted novel instead. Tune the TV into a comedy show rather than a police drama.
- Do something “just because” you enjoy it. Make it a counterbalance for all the things you feel obligated to do.
Of course, this list could go on and on, but I’m sure there’s enough there to get the idea across. When we were children, we didn’t need any prompting to be silly, play games and have fun, but adulthood can weigh heavily and, when it does, we should remember to deploy our inbuilt antidote: fun.
By Rachel Ward Lilley. Rachel is a business and educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past 12 years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. Find out more here.
Image by Beth Jnr on Unsplash