I supposed there were any number of productive activities that I could have engaged myself in on Saturday. This time of year, there are always weeds to pull or pansies to deadhead. I could have reorganized my closet or cleaned out the refrigerator…you name it. But instead of doing any of those things, I chose to play.
For me, play almost always means some kind of craft – I am a maker at heart after all. But I wouldn’t classify things like this as a “Project”…to me a Project means that there usually some kind of an endgame. A Project usually serves some kind of purpose and it needs some degree of planning and/or requires a decent amount of resources – time, energy, money, or otherwise.
That’s not what this was…this was just crafting for the pure fun of it. And it always surprises me how ridiculoulsy happy these kinds of things make me. It changes my whole mood…like a reset for my brain.
In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown defines play as “anything we do simply for the joy of doing it rather than a means to an end.” He goes on to say that play helps us to expand our minds and see things differently. Through play we are able to make new connections and generate new ideas. Play is also a key factor in relieving stress because of the way that it stimulates the parts of the brain that required for “logical reasoning and carefree, unbound exploration.” According to Greg, when we are stressed, it basically hijacks the creative parts of our brain and puts our emotions into overdrive.
Um….have you read my blog??
But when we play, stress is no longer at the helm of our thoughts and emotions and it allows our creativity and higher, executive functions to return to the wheel. Therefore play isn’t just beneficial, play is essential.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
All the yeses!
I am sharing this today because it was such a game changer for me over the weekend. And if you are feeling stressed, I would just encourage you to take a few minutes for some play time…they key is that it has to be something fun. Something you do just for the sheer happiness factor. No rules, no expectations, the more trivial and unimportant the better.
There is no getting away from stress in this life for sure, and I think that often this culture that prides itself of productivity and busyness makes the stress even worse. But the good news is that we can fight back against stress. And it doesn’t have to cost any money or take a lot of time. We just have to play.