(CMR) Life can be stressful, and the struggles we face can be overwhelming, leading to depression or even physical illness. Finding something that makes you happy or allows you to have fun for 30 minutes each day can improve both your physical and emotional well-being.
According to Mind Body Green Health, here are five ways having fun for at least 30 minutes each day can help you:
It can improve your relationships.
Adults tend to have their days mapped out by other people's priorities. When our lives lean toward being overprescribed, we often lose out on opportunities to engage in prosocial behavior. And when our lives become routine and lackluster, our relationships tend to suffer. Having fun with family and friends can help to fix this. Couples who have fun together also tend to have a better relationship.
When you are with your partner or friends, turn off your phone and avoid other distractions that jeopardize enjoying the moment. Do this, and you will see your relationships flourish.
It's good for your brain.
When you have fun, you naturally stimulate your curiosity and use your imagination, which helps strengthen your visualization and critical thinking skills.
One way to have fun while stimulating your brain is by reading a book. Not only can reading reduce stress, but it also transports you out of your current reality into another world that lies beyond the pages. Enjoying fun activities that introduce us to new ideas and concepts—like when we read—also helps to foster self-directed learning, which we know helps protect us against cognitive decline as we age.
It can encourage physical activity.
Experts have found that routine exercise can be as powerful in managing anxiety and mood disorders, like depression. Although exercise initially spikes the stress response in the body, individuals show lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine after periods of consistent physical activity.
Additionally, physical activity energizes the release of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Sometimes referred to as DOSE, this powerful neurochemical combination plays an important role in regulating our mood and helps to boost brainpower.
Although exercise might not be everybody's idea of “fun,” there are approachable ways to get started, like doing your exercise of choice for just 30 minutes a day. Keep in mind it doesn't have to be intensive exercise either: You could simply go for a walk, start a garden, or join a yoga class online or in person.
It makes you laugh.
It is no secret that chronic stress has long-term negative effects on our well-being. The adage “Laughter is the best medicine” has been well established through various replicable studies. As such, it's clear having a good laugh is a natural antidote to stress.
When you are looking at ways to increase the fun in your life, try to find laughter opportunities. One study found that individuals who tend to laugh frequently show fewer negative feelings when stressful situations arise. This provides further validation that laughter can reduce stress and help us deal with it when it happens. The same study showed it also helps to mitigate the comorbidities of stress, like depression and anxiety. Finding more opportunities to laugh is as easy as committing to seeing a comedy show, asking your friends silly questions, or making plans to visit your funniest relative.
It allows you to tend to your inner child.
Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in one hour of play than you can in a year of conversation.” Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to deprioritize play and label it as whimsy. As a result, play eventually becomes a relic of our younger selves. But psychologists are now emphasizing the importance of play for adults. Play is a crucial part of a child's development, and its utility doesn't diminish just because we age.
Finding adult ways to be playful can help us to awaken our curiosity for play. Similar to “fun,” personally defining “play” is up to you. You might try taking an improv class, or, if you have children, try inventing a game you all can play together.