Play, Laughter & Health – What’s Better Than That?
By Dr. Michele Kmiec, Founder OHH
From time to time we allow ourselves to be silly with some of our friends. And isn’t it a wonderful release? Especially when the silliness is accompanied by those uncontrollable belly laughs that bring tears to our eyes!
Kids are wonderful to observe because how often do you see them playing outside, skipping along the sidewalk, or hanging from the monkey bars on the playground and thought to yourself, “boy are they having fun!” Only to follow up that thought with, ‘if only I was young again.”
Why is it that an invisible playfulness line gets drawn at a certain age? Who set the rules on what you can and cannot do as you get older? And who decided that play is some kind of forbidden fruit for adults?
Well, luckily that out-dated viewpoints are finally being outshined with the advantages of keeping play in your life – at any age!
More and more research has found an important link between play, laughter, and health.
A wonderful article from The Washington Post really drives home why it’s good for grown-ups to go play (a must read)!
Not allowing ourselves to play is probably the most unfortunate limitation that we can place on ourselves.
Play can be a wonderful reprieve from your daily routine and I know we can all use that! You can find play in anything you do, and by doing so you will not only add a new perspective to your life but will also find surprising energy. And the best part is when you let go of restrictive inhibitions and laugh at yourself!
I’d like to help you find the play and laughter in your life with the following activity.
Ready to play?
Find the Play in Your Life Activity
In this first part, you are going to transform at least three mundane daily activities into more playful ones. Though it’s best to use your own whimsical imagination, here are a few ideas to get you started.
For even more fun, try doing activities like these with a friend, family member, or even a someone you don’t know.
- Challenge yourself by racing against time. For example, how fast can you go from your front door to the mailbox and back? Each time you get the mail, try to beat your previous time.
- Do something in the opposite order than you usually do. For example, after shopping, unload and put away your groceries in the opposite order than you usually do.
- Add a musical rhythm. For example, next time you brush your teeth, follow the rhythm of your favorite song and continue brushing for the duration of the song (this is a built-in twofer for better health).
Afterward, here are a few questions to think about.
- How easy was it for you to add a playful spin to your everyday activities?
- How did the people you live with react to your actions? Did they join you?
- Did you find this activity difficult or easy? Why?
- How many daily activities did you turn into play?
This next part is another favorite of mine. And it may really challenge you!
The other day I was shopping in a local grocery store that had a tile floor. Most of the tiles were white but there were a few equally spaced darker ones.
I saw a young boy trying to step only on the dark colored tiles, not allowing his foot to touch any of the white tiles. I thought to myself, “how fun is that?”
Furthermore, I also saw it is an exercise in agility. Could I do it while pushing my cart? Hmmm
Well, my first thought was what would people think? They would probably think that I was a bit off my rocker. My second thought was should I really care? After all, I am simply enjoying myself by adding some excitement to an uneventful day of shopping and moving my body in a side to side motion which will help to loosen my hips.
To make it even better, I had a friend along with me at the time and I challenged them to do this with me. To make a long story short, this had to be the most fun grocery shopping experience that we ever had! And I tell you what, we ended with an amazing belly laugh!
Would you have joined me? Would you do this on your own?
Or how about something a little less obvious. Do you remember as a kid walking on the curb trying to keep your balance for the entire length of the curb? When was the last time you did that?
Would you be game for swinging on a swing a bit at a local park? Perhaps sliding down the slide? Or if you can do it safely, climbing over a fence rather than walking through the gate?
What about “scooting” on the shopping cart in a parking lot as you are working your way to your car? I have to admit, yes I love doing that!
Well, guess what? This is the second part of this activity!
Challenge yourself to walk on that curb, don’t step on the cracks on the sidewalk, run instead of walk, climb that tree, hop on one foot, slide on the floor with your socks, well…you get the picture!
Do at least one playful activity per day for at least one week. Dare yourself to not worry about what other people think. You never know…they just might join in the fun!
Lastly, here are a few more questions to ponder.
- How did you feel doing these activities?
- Did it become easier to come up with playful activities once you started looking for them?
- Did you begin to worry less about what other people thought? Did anyone join you?
- Is this something that you will continue to do on a regular basis? Why or why not?
I truly believe that play and laughter are the greatest tools in achieving optimal health, well-being, and youthful vitality!