Are you feeling like the proverbial rat in the wheel? If you’re waiting for someone or something to come along and pull you off that wheel, you may have a long wait! This time of year can bring on a large case of The Doldrums. Here in the Northeast United States, we are drawing towards what (we hope) is the end of winter and setting our sights on the delights of spring and summer. Once the December holidays are over, many of us settle in to a “muddling through” mode of operation. Winter, with less ease of movement and less daylight hours, encourages us to go within, but nowhere does winter advise us to turn into a big blob and stick to a monotonous routine! We set our goals for the New Year, but how many of us include “Have more fun” on that list?
Recently, there have been quite a few articles and features about the importance of self-care, yet I find that even if we are taking time to exercise, eat right, meditate, or even schedule a full spa day, many of us would still draw the line at planning a “fun day.” Fun, in whatever form that means for you, is a beautiful part of self-care. When we enjoy either full days or moments of fun, we come away feeling lighter and freshly inspired. It feels good!
Fun enriches our relationships with spouses, partners, and children, and also at work. Team building exercises and events often incorporate an element of fun to get the ball rolling and then peppered throughout longer events to keep things from getting monotonous. The best way to keep fun in our lives on a regular basis is to plan for it. Get it on the calendar before other obligations block these much needed breaks. The great thing about fun is that we get to decide what brand of fun lights us up. We tend to identify our tribe of friends this way, whether love of a sport, certain music, hitting the beach, you name it. It also brings a certain identity to a family. Maybe they are big into skiing. Maybe they enjoy music, with each playing a particular instrument. My family loves to travel, cook, eat, enjoy music and crack each other up.
There can be many reasons that we deny ourselves the nurturing and upliftment of fun. Life Coach and bestselling author Nancy Levin recently commented that many of us feel or have been conditioned to believe that carving out time for fun is frivolous. Those of us who describe ourselves as reliable, hard-working, or self-sacrificing find it especially difficult to make time for fun. We end up sending a message that we are willing to sublimate our plans to others’ demands. We think of all the other things we’re “supposed” to be doing, and feel guilty about enjoying ourselves. As in, “If I’m not working, I’m not valuable.” Yet fun actually raises our energy level, allowing us to give more of our best selves. Consider the last time you really enjoyed yourself, then recall the energy it brought to your body and mind. With this elevation in energy, we gain greater clarity, thereby leading to greater decision-making abilities. We truly enhance the work we do in proportion to our play, self-care and enjoyment. Maybe our conditioned minds can work with that!
Even if your schedule is insane, you are ultimately in charge of it. Maybe it’s not possible to schedule a full day of your favorite activity in the near future, but you can start by putting in 10 minutes here and there. Then, as you look further out on your 2018 calendar, you can find the opportunity to plan full days before something else jumps in front of it. You get there first! It is important that you hold this time for yourself as any other commitment. Certainly, some things are going to come in and clearly need to be addressed, knocking out some plans. In these instances, be sure to reschedule them as soon as possible.
Remind yourself about the “fun you.” Write about one of your favorite fun moments; a college party, swimming at the quarry with friends, taking your kid to his first baseball game, baking with your mom at Christmas…you get the idea. Invite your mind to ruminate on events and times that brought joy, drawing inspiration to go ahead and put something fun together. What would the new version of your calendar look like? Take back the fun, and put back more joy in your life!