Yes, you’re right, I did say that this was going to be a four-part series. But then I noticed my blog reader stream, and my Tweet stream, and my Facebook stream. They all seem to be filled with posts about how important it is to take this last week of 2012 and do serious reflection and planning. And you know what? I agree with that line of thought. One of the things that I like about our calendar system is that it reminds us that our time is finite. We need time to plan and time to reflect.
However, that loud theme also made me think about this week. And what I noticed was that some of my favorite moments of the week came when I let go of plans and expectations–and just played. Whether that was pretending that our sad two inches of snow counted as a real snowfall, playing board games, imagining an ice rink adventure on our tiny local pond, or just letting the dog revel in a good walk–those moments were sweet. They were especially precious in the face of recent tragedies.
And that got me thinking–when are we playing? How are we playing? Are our moments of play limited to a quick round of Words With Friends while we’re commuting? Where does play fit into all of the serious demands on us? There is a growing body of research suggesting that play is hugely important to our emotional and intellectual health–for adults as well as for children.
If one of the goals of a holiday is to create and celebrate joy, it seems like playing might an essential ingredient in holiday self-care. So, this week, I am asking you to think about play. And I hope that you use your creativity when you do so. Play can mean all kinds of things. You don’t need special equipment or a big group. Play is not restricted to children. For me, diving into a new recipe is a form of play. So is sitting down in front of a pottery wheel. Attitude matters. To someone else, your play may seem like a chore. Here are a few questions to get you started on your play exploration:
- What does it mean to you to play? Are you a card player, a board game person, an outdoor person, an experimental chef, an artist, a builder or a mad scientist?
- Do you play best with others or on your own?
- Where does play fit into your daily life? What do you call play?
- What kind of play have you wanted to try, but thought you couldn’t because of your age (example: I still swing on swing sets every chance I get!)
I hope you have a great time with this self-care challenge. It would be a treat for me if you share your play choices in the comments. Who knows–you may inspire someone else to play too!
Image Credit: “Bubbles” by Allie Holzman via Flickr