One common theme among my clients is the lack of fun in their lives. For some, it's been so long since they had fun, they can hardly remember what they like to do for fun. In the quest to be super parents, amazing workers, champions of busyness, fun got lost. Yet, having fun is good for your health. Can you see why I love my job as a health coach? I have the privilege of encouraging and supporting people to go have fun, and then I hold them accountable for it. I don't tell people to become vegan. I tell them to go have more fun!
Like you, I am not always on top of prioritizing fun. When I don't, some things I value deeply, like my marriage and my friendships, suffer. It is often the first thing to go when we are not feeling well, stressed, or find ourselves in challenging situations. When I was in a fun slump, my fellow coach, Cristina Logtenberg, suggested we go play mini golf, a sport I had not attempted since I was a kid. It was so much fun to be in the middle of the inevitable kitsch that is a mini golf course, trying to hit the ball into the mouth of a dragon or through the gates of a castle, and feeling euphoric nailing a hole-in-one.
Seriously, though, fun is good for your health. Usually, having fun involves socializing. Spending quality time with other people who make us feel safe and loved boosts our immune system (source, p. 116). Sometimes fun involves meeting a challenge like a long bike ride or a steep hike. In those cases, attempting and succeeding at a challenge we enjoy releases the feel good hormone oxytocin which lowers our blood pressure and, again, strengthens our immune system (source). Fun is a good way to ensure that you are getting enough self-care, such as a massage or a pedicure. If you are an emotional eater like me, having fun is a great way to shift away from emotional eating. Feel like eating a whole bag of chocolate chips? Go for a walk instead or call a friend. Sarah Jenks, a coach who focuses on emotional eating and fun as the antidote, has a great article on this topic in The Huffington Post worth checking out.
How can you create more fun in your life? Schedule it! Call a friend for coffee. Tell the family that this weekend you'll be having a picnic on the beach (instead of navigating the madness that is Costco on a Saturday). Email the girls for an outing. Make it a priority! Send calendar reminders to yourself that say, "You deserve to have fun!" Finally, drop the shoulds. The shoulds is a terrible syndrome that draws you away from what you actually consider fun into the black hole of social media and what others think is fun. What do you like to do for fun? Once you know the answer, go do it! Your health depends on it!