Image by Abigail Keenan
I have a puritanical work ethic. It gets to the point where I get this tight feeling in my chest, like I have to get my wiggles out. It’s the same feeling I got as a kid if I studied for too long. Sometimes you need to get out and feel the sunshine on your face.
I started my own freelance business back in December, and I have to count my blessings. I have been successful in my first couple of months, but I need to constantly remind myself: have FUN! Get outside! Play music! Dance!
I don’t always have to be parked in front of the computer to be successful. I don’t always have to crunch numbers, gain new clients, and plan my work week. I trust that I will take care of these things and that things will work out for the best. Sometimes, after all is said and done, a girl’s got to slip away.
My husband pointed out: “Your mental health is more important than how much money you make.” After all – I quit my office job and started freelancing for a greater sense of wellbeing. I should take advantage of that.
I’m giving myself permission to have more fun. I trust myself to professionally kick ass. I can afford some countryside drives, bowling alleys, and middle-of-the-week dog parks. It’s time to take back my life!
Health benefits of having fun
- Serotonin, baby!
Think of serotonin like sunshine for our brains. It’s our “get happy” potion. Serotonin showers our brains with feelings of comfort, contentment, and wellbeing. It makes us properly sleepy when it’s time to cuddle in the covers, and it helps us feel relaxed and at peace. It allows us to acknowledge that we are okay in this world and that we deserve good food, exercise, friends, and happiness.
2. Endorphins Make You Happy
In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” (Well, it’s true, ain’t it?) Endorphins help alleviate anxiety, help us manage pain better, and can also fight depression.
2. Less Stress
If you’re a normal person who has responsibilities, stress will be a regular visitor in your life. Stress has an incredibly negative impact on your health. It can lead to headaches, heartburn, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, digestive issues, fertility problems, low sex drive, tense muscles, and can even increase depression. Screw that. Banish stress through play. Go have fun. Let loose.
3. More Energy
Enjoying an activity you love can focus your brain and make you feel more awake. It can make you feel empowered and like you have the skills to get through anything. In our busy lives, we tend to cut activities we enjoy first, because we view having fun as “gratuitous” and a “luxury”. In reality, having fun can give us more energy for tackling health issues, financial problems, and any other stressors that sap our energy and leave us feeling sluggish and depressed.
Why people don’t have fun
- You think you have to plan it
Fun can be spontaneous. Grab some friends or some doggies, go somewhere creative during your lunch break. When’s the last time you went to the aquarium? Have you ever taken a walking lunch with a smoothie while listening to a comedy podcast? Sometimes all it takes is one hour of creative thinking. Having fun doesn’t warrant a plan. It just requires the simple decision to spice things up.
2. You think you need money
Okay, time to be creative, here. You don’t need to hit up the mall in order to have fun. You don’t have to buy a movie ticket. You don’t have to even drive anywhere. Remember being a kid and having fun with soap bubbles, rain puddles, couch forts, and good old fashioned rock n roll? What’s changed? How did we get so boring?
3. You think you don’t have time
Yo, I get it. Adulting is hard. I could raise your blood pressure by mentioning all the adult tasks we have to accomplish on a daily basis. Just the term “tax season” gets my cortisol levels up. But here’s the thing: you DO have time to do what you love. You have time to paint a picture, to go on a walk, or to explore that super fun roller skating rink two small downs down the country route. You just have to make time. You will thank yourself.
How to have fun
Here’s a list of things I’m going to try to bring into my life more so that I can experience fun on a daily basis. Make a list of your own! Let’s swap ideas! I want to know what you come up with!
- I’m going to keep fresh wildflowers on my kitchen table from my own garden.
- I’m going to listen to more music while I work and clean.
- Dance parties with dogs!
- Two words: pools & margaritas. Yes ma’am.
- Hang out with more fun friends with great senses of humor
- Tote my camera around more
- I’m going to ride my moped as soon as the weather gets nice.
- I’m going to explore the coolest places by my house to get freelance work done. Historic libraries? Indie cafes? Yes and yes.
- I’m going to take my dogs to more fun places: dog parks, beaches, trails, small towns, etc
- There will be no antique shop I will not find.
- Visit friends! We have so many friends a couple of hours away, and we will visit them more!
- I’m going to lay on my back in the pasture more. It sounds weird, but it really does wonders for perspective.
- I’m taking my husband berry picking.
- Kayaking, canoeing, sailing, anything boats!
- Goin’ fishin’
- I want to go backpacking with a little traveler guitar and strum by the campfire.
- I want to visit Ohio and Michigan’s beaches
- More trashy novels please. Don’t judge. You know you love ’em. Move over War And Peace.
- I’m going to go to a baseball game and eat a pretzel the size of my face.
- I’m going to target shoot some empty beer cans with my husband’s old BB gun
- It’s about damn time I return to the opera, orchestra, and theater.
- Hang out on the roof and stargaze because why not
- Go horseback riding (I’ve never been!)
I’m getting excited just thinking about these things. And trust me, this spring and summer will be jam-packed with fun things to do, because I believe in “work hard, play hard”. After all, playing hard always feels better after a day of working hard. Put the two together, and you’ve got a happy day.
And here is my promise: that happy day can be on a Tuesday. There are no rules in life. Have fun. Be happy.