We can learn a lot from children.They naturally express great imagination and creativity. And their innocence is a breath of fresh air. Watching children without modern society’s filters and programming is a wonder to behold (there’s a reason kids say the darndest things).
One lesson I try to get across to clients is that if you work hard, you have to rest hard and still find time to play.
The work hard, rest hard part should be obvious. It relates to energy balance and recovery. When you work hard you are expending energy. When you rest you are recharging those batteries. Working hard is challenging and stressful to the body. It is while we are resting, while sleeping that the body repairs, rebuilds and grows.
Why play? Play is important because it involves creativity and imagination. Both are right brain activities and we live in a left brain dominant society.
Spending our lives in the left brain is distressing and throws us out of balance. Chronic stress, regardless of its source is a major driving factor behind Metabolic Chaos™ or the loss of metabolic efficiency and function. All those sign and symptoms of compromised health are external manifestations of Metabolic Chaos™
Anything you can do to decrease stress is vital to building health and vitality. Play does that. You won’t find miserable upset children playing in the back yard or at the park.
What I suggest is you think about the way you played as a child, what did you do and how did it make you feel? What emotions did you experience? Most likely you felt good regardless of what you were doing, otherwise you wouldn’t do it.
I am not suggesting you go back and start acting as if you are six years old, but you can learn from your past to improve your present and in turn change your future.
As a kid, I enjoyed playing in the dirt and building things. So how do I manifest that today? I still play in the dirt, except now, instead of Tonka trucks, army men and matchbox cars I play with rocks and stones. Building retaining walls, patios and walkways allows me to be creative. It allows me to experience moments of Zen that bring me joy. As a bonus it requires physical activity, which most of America does not get enough of.
To be honest, I don’t “enjoy” exercise. But I do “enjoy” playing. How I exercise is specifically designed to allow me to express myself through play while inflicting as little physical distress to my body as possible. After all, those rocks and stones can get heavy.
As kid I always enjoyed exploring, whether it was on a bike or wandering wooded areas (this was before suburban sprawl became a national past-time). I still enjoy exploring today. Except now it’s on a slightly larger scale.
My wife and I enjoy road trips. Starting in 2015, rather than take a traditional week’s vacation that fit within our work schedule, we chose to do it our way. Over the past two trips we have spent over a month exploring Newfoundland and Nova Scotia driving over 8,000 miles. We have met wonderful kind souls, eaten ridiculously fresh and tasty seafood, viewed incredible vistas and hiked amazing terrain. We have gained a new appreciation for life and what this reality we are experiencing is all about.
How we choose to play is unique to each of us. I would never suggest you do what I do. All I ask is you try new things or re-invent/modify old things.
You may be thinking, that you can’t, or you shouldn’t, that there are other things I have to do. All I can say is STOP! Stop that train of thought. That is not you speaking, that is social programming speaking.
We are human beings, not human “doings”. Our career choices don’t define who we are.
Trust me, play is essential for health. We are meant to “be” and part of the act of “being” is experiencing life within this physical existence. We should be actively participating in life not observing it from a climate controlled environment, or looking at pretty images on the big screen tv or through the latest virtual reality technology.
Trust me, playing is an essential part of being healthy.
One, it is hard to be stressed when you play, otherwise you aren’t playing. Try it, prove me wrong.
Second, our fast paced modern lifestyle is incredibly left brain dominant. The right brain is all about imagination, creativity and artistic ability. The right brain is open-minded, holistic in scope with an emphasis on possibilities, intuition and abstract perception. These attributes are in direct opposition to just about everything we are taught and led to believe are appropriate to being a productive responsible adult.
Third, the play keeps us young. Young of body, mind and soul.
Most Americans don’t play. And if you are honest as you look around, you see an awful lot of of unhealthy, unhappy and uninspired people attempting to act alive.
Start off with simple forms of play. If you don’t know where to begin. get down on the floor and watch your children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews play. See things from their perspective. Dance, sing, roll around, run, skip, climb, jump (jump in a puddle, really its fun and you won’t melt, I promise). Grab some crayons or pencils and take up adult coloring (yes it’s actually a thing, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines). Learn to play a musical instrument or dust yours off. The options are endless.
Think about the fun you had as a child with nothing more than your imagination and a big box. That box became anything you wanted and it was fun.
Whatever you do, do something and enjoy it. Allow the memories and feelings wash over you. It is well worth the effort. You can play and have fun yet still remain a functioning respectable adult. I fact, I bet you will become an even better adult through play. And think what you can teach and experience with your children. So get out there!!
Closing Thoughts: As important as play is, it’s only one of a handful of tools at your disposal that can help you build health & vitality and embrace life, naturally. If you believe you are doing the “right” things, but not making the progress you expect, contact me. We can set up a consultation and discuss how my Awaken Your Health programs can get you much closer to your goals. Until then, go have fun! Play and get back in contact with your inner child! You deserve it.