It was still a week before Halloween when I read a post on Facebook with a countdown to Christmas. I’m a Scrooge until after Thanksgiving, so I scrolled on past. The same week, I went shopping, and there in the store was a display of Christmas trees in all their glory. I love Christmas trees, but still…!
After self-evaluating why these things made me grouchy, I realized I was feeling anxiety over the upcoming holidays and all that goes with it. The busyness, the financial worry, not to mention that I ALWAYS overcommit myself!
Speaking of getting ahead of ourselves with the holidays, however, soon after this realization, I watched my delighted grandson play with a new toy, and that inspired my New Year’s Resolution, which I won’t wait to implement: I’ve resolved to play more.
Yes, play. Throughout the holidays, we are so focused on how we are going to buy the perfect gift, serve the perfect meal and meet all our commitments that we forget to take care of, and enjoy, ourselves!
Many adults, especially those of us with a strong work ethic, often feel guilty for taking days off. We kick ourselves for lying around the house enjoying a Netflix marathon on a Saturday afternoon instead of tackling that “to do” list. We do not give ourselves permission to rest or to play. Studies show we should.
Play isn’t just crucial for child development; it’s beneficial for all ages! Some benefits of play include relieving stress, because play triggers endorphins that help the body feel well. It can even help us tolerate pain better.
It improves brain function. If games are your play, they can help enhance memory and can help reduce isolation through playing with family and friends. Play facilitates teamwork and helps to break down barriers to communication.
Play helps stimulate creativity! Remember as a kid when one of you came up with a brilliant idea to build that bike ramp even better? How much fun was it to be creative? It still is! We learned by being creative when we were kids, and we still can! We learn better when we enjoy what we’re doing, and that spirit of fun and playfulness can even stimulate the imagination, which is helpful in problem-solving.
Play can help you be more productive. This is an easy one to forget. Pushing ourselves harder can actually decrease the quality of our work, and it certainly exhausts us. Taking time to play, whether it’s with co-workers during a break, at a staff meeting or a luncheon, or whether it’s just on your own, is so beneficial. It refreshes your spirit, increases energy, helps you reevaluate a problem with a fresher perspective, and, again, it can help with creativity.
During the holidays, when stress and emotions can get the better of us, it’s important to do what we can to reduce all that gets in the way of enjoying that time.
Here are some suggestions to make sure you take care of yourself:
Get enough rest. This includes not over-committing yourself. Say “yes” when you want to say yes, but realize that it’s also okay to say no.
Express gratitude. Focus on what is working well. Stay positive. If you find yourself slipping into negative thoughts, think of what you’re thankful for and focus on those things.
Know that you can’t do it all – and know that’s okay! Last year, I splurged and paid to have my gifts wrapped instead of doing them all myself. Invite friends over for cookies and cocoa and have them help decorate with you.
Take some time just for yourself to have fun and to play. How? Schedule it! Clear your calendar for a day of fun, maybe some yoga, meditation, a spa day, see a movie, read a book, take a walk…anything that sounds appealing to you. It can change your mood and strengthen relationships.
Invite your family and friends to make lists of things you enjoy doing, and then compare lists. If any of those items overlap, do those activities together! I invite you to visit the Senior Community Center to check out all the fun things we have going on here!
As Southerners, we say, “Take care of yourself!” when we say goodbye to someone. This season, let’s all take our own advice: Take care of yourself. Play a little!