Often we get too busy or burdened with our day to day responsibilities that we neglect the little things that bring us joy. We prioritise crossing the ‘important’ things off our to do list rather than nurturing our soul with a little bit of fun.
We choose to work through our lunch break instead of logging off and meeting with a friend for lunch.
Or choose to watch that serious documentary instead of a quirky comedy.
We save our money for a rainy day instead of spending $5 on a bunch of flowers for ourselves at the market.
We tell ourselves it’s wasting time to lie in the hammock, read a novel, bake a cake, dance in the living room, learn to juggle, make love in the afternoon or have a very long soak in the bath.
Burnout, stress and depression
When we stop prioritising our own pleasure, we stop enjoying life. Life becomes less and less fun as, quite simply, we’re not making it fun. Life becomes dull and routine.
So it’s no wonder that we end up burnt out, stressed and depressed.
And it can become a vicious circle. Not having fun can lead to depression, but depression can also lead to what psychologists call anhedonia; we no longer find enjoyment in things we previously found enjoyable. It’s like the world becomes grey, and nothing is fun anymore.
So pay attention, this is important!
Having fun is good for you
Having fun and being joyful is very good medicine. When we laugh and feel joyful our bodies naturally release endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s natural painkillers, they enhance the functioning of the nervous and immune systems, and they trigger a positive feeling in the body, some even describe it as euphoric.
Having fun and choosing pleasure in our lives can prevent burn out, stress and depression, but it’s also a very beautiful way to heal if you’ve already gone down that path, and to prevent relapse.
If you’ve previously been depressed in the past, you’re statistically much more likely to become depressed again. Doing things that are fun and joyful is a wonderful way to prevent that happening. Think of it as a vaccination against depression.
"It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how!"
How to have fun
2. Choose guilt free fun (eating chocolate and going shopping might be fun, but if you eat a whole block or max out your credit card, the joyfulness is going to be pretty short lived)
3. Do it EVERY day!
4. Remember that having fun doesn’t have to cost money and it doesn’t have to take up loads of time.
Here are some ideas for having fun (and remember, every one is different, what is fun for me may be totally boring for you, find what fills you with joy, and do that, over and over!)….
Have a massage
Watch a great movie
Have a bath
Read a book
Kick a ball around
Bake a cake
Visit a friend
Listen to music in the car
Pick flowers for yourself
Work on a creative project
Meet up with friends
Dance in the lounge room
Play with children
Walk in the forest
Learn something new
Play an instrument
Take gratitude photographs
Jump in the pool with a big splash
Have a picnic
Make love (try a new position!)
Listen to live music
Go on a date
Paint your nails
Stand on your head
Rearrange your furniture
Stay up all night talking with friends
Get up early and watch the sunrise
Play with children
Walk on the beach
Go to a café in the afternoon
Do some craft
Laugh for no good reason
Your homework (yes, you have homework!)
In my counselling practice, I give homework, all the time! Talking is an important part of healing and flourishing, but it’s not enough. We have to actually start DOING things differently in our lives to make a difference.
My very favourite homework task, that I give out all the time, is this…. “do something, every day, that is fun and joyful.”
So your homework, should you choose to receive it, is just this.
Go out and have fun and be joyful.
Every single day!
And leave me a comment below about what you find fun and enjoyable, and how this affects your experience with life.