A couple of years back I saw this show on PBS which showcased grown ups acting a bit silly and laughing. The program was trying to promote adults making time for play and why it was important for our mental sanity. Now I don’t remember all the statistics nor do I recall all the different ways of playing, but what I did walk away with was the acceptance of its importance.
I think we live in a stressed out society. We have all these deadlines (dry cleaner closes at 5, pick-up kids at 3, pay rent by the first of the month, pay credit card bills), people to answer to (our spouse, our boss, our neighbors), and decisions to make (what to cook, what to order, what should I do first, which program do I watch, when do I go to bed, when do I wake up). Now these are everyday small choices/actions, and not too stressful by themselves. But combined with all the other things you need to do, after a while it can be overwhelming. But we all manage to make it through the day. In addition to the everyday social stresses, there are the big stresses; relationship (personal, work and the like), family (kids, parents, and all those other sometimes scary people) and the what am I doing with my life sort of stresses. I think a lot times those stressful thoughts can be stifling and sometimes prevent you from thinking straight or even making a decision, and even after you’ve made your decision was it the right one. If you let it, it can really affect your mentally and even worse physically. Apparently there is a phenomenon of women going gray as early as 25 (not just one or two, but really gray). I read an article on the DailyMail which I know isn’t necessarily scientific, but it did bring up a good topic. Are we stressing ourselves out too much? My answer is yes.
So we are torturing ourselves with stress, and yes we are doing it to ourselves. We are the ones who whip ourselves into a frenzy over decisions be they big or small, we try to plan out as much of our lives as we can, only to have our plans be blown out of the water and then have to scramble and figure out what we can and need to do. If you think about it, that is pretty stressful, there will always be something for us to worry about. It doesn’t seem healthy to live your life in constant fight or flight response mode. If you just take a look at the citizens of Los Angeles you will see a group of tightly wound, almost perpetually panic-stricken people. It seems like the slightest thing may set one of us off, it’s not healthy at all.
The question then becomes how do we end this vicious cycle of teeth grinding stressed out madness. One answer can be to remember to make time for play. This may sound completely bonkers, but it just may work. If in each day we do something silly just to relieve the stress of the day we may improve our stress condition. And now this is the sad bit, have we forgotten how to play, have we made such efforts to be adults that we just don’t know how to be silly, how to let go of that serious pretense and smile and laugh our heads off? I think it may be something that we have buried, we’ve buttoned ourselves up so tightly that we can’t enjoy any of it, but I think if we dig it up we can do it.
It is now up to us to rediscover play, joy, happiness, silliness, fun, giggles, goofiness, and all other things that just make us feel good inside. I think we should start small, something that we enjoy, make time for a simple pleasure, say watching the sunset. What’s that, you say you don’t enjoy the sunset, it’s the earth maintaining it revolution and orbit, we’re watching as this giant ball of light that is warming us slowly descend from the skin. OK, maybe do something that seems out of character, but you loved as a kid. Like making faces…um don’t worry about the wrinkles, it’s just an attempt at fun, don’t worry that someone will think you’re nuts. Maybe go for a ride on the swings, please don’t tell me you have motion sickness. Oh finger painting, getting your little paws dirty was fun as a kid and it will wash off. Find something anything, the more you look the more you’ll find. Don’t worry what others will think, just enjoy yourself.
Is anyone with me on this?