When was the last time you played? Remember being a child and dressing up in your parents’ clothes or mashing fruit from the garden and pretending you were making dinner for your fake family? Remember getting lost in play for hours, building LEGOS or making a blanket fort? Perhaps you are like me and you grew up in times without the internet and constantly being “plugged in” to some device or other. In those days, we had to use our imagination to come up with things to do. This can be a valuable exercise to renew and rejuvenate your imagination and bring some fun into your life!
Years ago, Telus was switching to fiber optic internet and I was without internet for several months. Surprisingly, this was a very fun time! I committed to watching movies I already owned, instead of streaming from Netflix. Tasks and hobbies that were forever pushed down on my to-do list, to make way for more pressing or urgent ones, were finally in the spotlight. I spent more time in nature. I had an arrangement with a neighbour to use their WIFI, but our visits were a great way to connect and develop our friendship. Once the internet was back up and running, I made a rule for myself to not use it in the bedroom and keep internet use to certain times of the day.
If you would like to unplug, the makers of the documentary The Social Dilemma have a 7 day reboot plan (‘The Social Dilemma’ presents: The Social Media Reboot), which includes setting limits on scrolling, turning off notifications, and setting boundaries around technology use. Their website also has information for parents and families to create a family plan for sensible social media use and you can also sign up for a newsletter with more tips and tricks. Find more information here: Family Media Agreement | Common Sense Media.
Once you decide to disconnect, you may be wondering how to brush the dust off your imagination or how to begin to have an attitude of fun. Even though we grow up, we don’t magically stop needing fun and liveliness in our lives. Using our imagination and creativity switches our thinking and activates a totally separate part of the brain from stress and anxiety. Maybe you like building or crafting something new, like LEGO towers, metal working, carving, beadwork, jewelry making, painting, or anything else that gets creative juices flowing. One idea could be cooking karaoke. Cooking can sometimes be a drag, making the same meals over and over, and sometimes we have to cook for picky eaters so there’s not much variety in our meals. Turn on some music and sing karaoke while you stir, boil, or fry. This could also apply when tidying after cooking or washing dishes.
An attitude of fun can also be an openness to new experiences while doing mundane tasks or going about our lives. When I go for a run, instead of just listening to my music or staring at the scenery, I make a game of my run. For example, I dodge tree branches or jump over cracks in the road, kind of like an obstacle course. This makes the run more interesting and exercises a wider range of muscles, because it breaks me out of the same repetitive motions and movements of running.
The key piece with an attitude of fun is giving ourselves permission to have fun, make light of life, and maybe even be silly or goofy. I find individuals with anxiety and depression often have this tape running in their minds, narrating their experiences and being critical of what they are doing. This inner critic might not allow us to relax and have fun, because we may expect ourselves to conduct ourselves or behave in a certain way. Tell your inner critic to take a back seat and brainstorm ways to make mundane tasks more fun! Drop a comment and tell us at Whitevalley how you’ve applied an attitude of fun in your life!
Jenni Radmacher, RN; Counsellor