You have probably heard that play is important. Truthfully playfulness IS self-care.

Engaging in play and fun activities are necessary for your overall mental and physical wellbeing. Not only will it help to reduce stress levels, but it can also improve the quality of life.

First, you need to determine what is playful AND self-care.

Determining what constitutes fun and self-care is a personal exploration, but here are three ideas to help guide you:

1.Experiment: Try different activities and observe how they make you feel. Do you feel rejuvenated after a yoga session or does painting bring out your inner joy?

What do others do that you have wondered about? Maybe there is some deep desire to try it out. Go ahead and experiment with this new form of play.

Remember, what works for others might not work for you, but then again, it might!

2.Self-reflection: Spend time thinking about what truly makes you happy. Self-care isn’t always about relaxation; sometimes, it can be about pursuing a passion or hobby that you love.

I encourage people to think back on what they used to like to do when they were younger. I LOVED being at the beach and swimming when I was younger. This is still my go-to fun/self-care activity.

3.Balance: Try to strike a balance between activities that are calming and those that are energizing. For instance, reading a book might relax you, while a dance class might invigorate you. The key to effective self-care is maintaining this balance.

Make your list a variety of calming and energizing experiences. This can match your self-care needs at different times.

Remember, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to fun and self-care. It’s a personal journey that depends entirely on what makes you feel fulfilled, relaxed, and recharged at that time. Go ahead, explore, and discover what makes you feel enlivened!

Second, how do you make time for playful activities when life is so busy?

The answer is simple: start small and be consistent. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1.Make a list of what you like to do for fun. It might feel hard to determine what you like to do for fun, because it has been hard to even determine what you would like to do.

When our lives are out of balance with a long to-do list, thinking about play and self-care are low on the list (if they are even on the list).

I have a list of 100 items that are on my bucket list to do or try. I add to the list when there is something fun that comes to my attention.

2.Make a schedule and stick to it – set aside time each week for fun activities. It doesn’t matter how much time it is, even if it’s only 15 minutes. The important thing is that you make time for yourself.

I promise you have at least 15 minutes to engage in some fun activities.

3.Create mini-challenges throughout the day – challenge yourself to do something fun for a few minutes each day. This could be playing a game, listening to music, watching a movie, doing some yoga, or anything else that you enjoy!

When you begin to just add in play, it can become more natural to be in the mindset of increasing play.

4.Find support – reach out to friends and family members who are also trying to make time for play and self-care activities. You can join online communities or find a local group dedicated to play and fun activities (there are many meetups that focus on play).

This way, you can make sure that you have someone who is holding you accountable.

Lastly, why is it so critical to engage in more play for self-care?

Engaging in play and fun activities isn’t just an escape from your busy schedule, it also stimulates your mind in unique and innovative ways. Whether you’re painting, playing a board game, or gardening, these activities can spur creativity, and make a positive impact on your brain and enhance problem-solving skills.

This creative rejuvenation can prove beneficial in many areas of your life, including work and personal relationships. Not only do these activities provide immediate enjoyment, but they also contribute to your overall brain functioning and emotional support.

Take the time for yourself today and make sure that you’re taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It’s important for our overall health that we make time for play and fun activities!

Remember: it’s okay to put yourself first — no matter how busy life gets. You deserve a break and the chance to play and have some fun. Take that step today and give yourself permission to enjoy life!

It will make all the difference in your overall wellbeing.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best-selling book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.

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