You’ve probably heard that self-care is important – that you need to take time for yourself and do things that nurture your body and mind. Self-care activities often include things like exercising, getting sufficient sleep, eating a healthy diet, and perhaps some sort of mindfulness practice. These all have great benefits, but there’s another self-care method that really should be on the list (especially since the ultimate goal of self-care is to feel good) – and it’s perhaps the most simple method of all: Have fun.
Having fun is more than just doing things you enjoy, because it includes a sense of lightness. So, while you might enjoy reading or doing crossword puzzles, you would probably not describe those activities as “fun.” Fun has elements like spontaneous joy, laughter, playfulness, delight, energy, amusement, and cheer.
Because people are essentially social beings, we’re more likely to have fun when we’re with others. Even just watching other people have fun can improve your mood. (Think of the delight you can feel when watching young children engrossed in play.)
One of the hallmarks of having fun is laughing, which offers a way for people to feel connected to each other. For this reason, it is much more likely to happen when people are with others than when they are alone. Also, laughter is contagious, causing those around them to feel happier and often to laugh along with them. Research has shown that being social and laughing both release tension, lower anxiety, alleviate depression, and boost the immune system.
People also have fun when they are physically active doing things that they like. In fact, it’s almost impossible to imagine doing a physical activity you enjoy and not having fun. By getting your body moving, you trigger it to release endorphins. You have more energy, gain a better outlook on life, feel a greater sense of well-being, and are more mentally alert.
So, if you want to add more fun to your life, think about ways that you can do something active with other people. It’s essential, though, that you pick people you like and an activity you think you’ll enjoy. Forcing yourself to do something that is supposed to be fun is likely to backfire. It would be like telling yourself you “ought to” eat your favorite dessert – say, cookie dough ice cream. As much as you might love the ice cream, being told you should eat it can take some of the sweetness out of the taste in your mouth.
So, grab some friends, pick an activity you enjoy, and let the fun happen.