A holistic approach to mental health and well-being

All work and no play: Stress busting tip no 2

All work and no play:  Stress busting tip no 2

All work and no play

In support of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve been considering the ways in which we can manage stress, which is this year’s theme.  In the second of my mini-blogs I thought I was raise the concept of PLAY!  Yes you heard me right.

Now I know that as adults we find this a difficult concept.  We are too old, too tired, too busy to be “messing around”.  But might we be missing a trick here?  It’s fair to say that in recent year’s life feels like it’s got a bit serious and pressured.  This doesn’t help our stress levels as we struggle to meet competing demands on our time, take the kids to their after school clubs and Instagram our lunch.  As a counsellor I often use a tool called the “Wheel of Life” with clients.  It’s a Wheel (you guessed that) which splits life into segments which we then score out of 10 in terms of how happy we are we them.  Categories include things like, “work”, “relaxation”, “relationships” but there is also a category called “fun”.    Remember that?  No?  My clients invariably can’t either.  Whenever I say “So what do you do for fun?” it usually draws blank looks.  As adults in an ever increasingly serious world it feels like many of us (not all) have forgotten how to play.  And yet given the opportunity how many of us can resist skimming stones by the river, paddling in the sea or playing with our kid’s games.  Yet we seem to need an excuse to do this.  I have two abiding happy memories which stand out for me in terms of play.  One time I went down a huge mud slide screaming all the way down (then laughed even harder at my husband who being heavier than me travelled faster and almost hit the haystacks at the end) and also the time I went to a kite-flying event on Lytham Beach.  I got so excited I bought my own kite and flew it for ages, watching as it bobbed and weaved in the sky.  And during that time did I once think of work, stresses or things I had to do?  No.  I was totally lost in the experience, having a mindful moment, totally focussing on fun and flying my kite.

So I invite you to consider how you might just incorporate a little fun or play into your life.  It might be something as simple as buying a set of marbles and having a game.  Going roller-skating, climbing or maybe re-reading a favourite childhood book.  Adult colouring books are all the rage and are a great way to bring some mindfulness into your life.  In fact that reminds me, I got a new one for my birthday.  Just off to colour in a cat!

Cat colouring book with pens