Being an adult is often no fun. Every day we’re confronted by work, bills, obligations and all of the other commitments associated with being a grown-up. And yet, we have a choice: we can either let ourselves become bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of our lives, or we can incorporate fun activities into our daily routine.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my niece and nephews of late, aged 11-17, and although the older boys are less inclined to play, my 11-year-old niece and nephew (fraternal twins) are ready to play at the drop of a hat. Endless games of Twister, Snap! (the most dangerous card game ever), Handball and Ping Pong are played, often with my older nephews being dragged in to play under duress. My favourite game of theirs, for which I’m usually the umpire, is Steal the Sock. It’s hardly the most sophisticated game – the twins wrestle one another and whoever pulls the other’s sock off first wins – yet it’s possibly the funniest and most enjoyable thing ever, even as umpire.
That’s the thing about growing up: we often forget how to play. A little play every day can lift us out of our routine and help us to mindfully celebrate this amazing thing called life. For those experiencing mood disorders such as depression, making a conscious effort to do something out-of-the-ordinary every day can make all the difference between a good day and a bad day.
With that in mind, I present to you my top ten favourite child-like activities, guaranteed to lift even the darkest mood!
Doodle… preferably with crayons – whether or not you can draw, I challenge you to suppress a smile when you’re doodling away with a set of Crayolas. I can’t draw to save myself so my artwork usually comes out looking like a child’s but it doesn’t matter because it’s fun!
Blow bubbles – this is a no-brainer. Grab one of those bubble-blowing kits and go to town. Nobody can be down when there’s bubbles around!
Jump rope – a bit of exercise combined with nostalgia? What’s not to love?! Extra points if you can recall any of the schoolyard jump rope songs while you’re doing it.
Get yourself onto a roller coaster – this one might take a little more effort, since few of us have a roller coaster in our backyards (pity), however whenever you have the chance to ride the rails, do it! Don’t stand back and let the kids have all the fun! For extra thrills and spills, ensure you sit in the very front row or, even better, the very last row (while in the last row, look backwards at the track during the initial ascent, so that when the roller coaster goes hurtling over the edge of its first dip, your stomach winds up lodged in your throat – one of the best things my step-brother and I used to do as kids).
Kick a ball around – another sporty option, kicking a ball around can provide minutes or hours of amusement. If you have a dog, let it play too and watch it go out of its little mind with sheer delight.
Play ping-pong – play against an opponent, play doubles or play with yourself; no matter how you play, there is something oddly mesmerising and soothing about thwacking at a little plastic ball over and over again.
Raid the dress-up box – I am 39 and I am not ashamed to admit that I have a dress-up box. Not for nieces and nephews. For adults. It’s filled with leftover clothing and accessories from fancy-dress parties and often makes an appearance after a couple of drinks. Extra fun can be had in a group by dressing up and adopting a new persona for the duration of the evening.
Swing on the swings – whoever said that the swings at the park were just for kids? Get on them and swing as high as you can! Looking like an idiot is half the fun!
Play with an animal – endless hours of fun can be had by playing with animals. All I need to do to entertain my cat is to show her a piece of string and she goes crazy with a capital ‘C’.
Climb a tree – for the more dextrous and rambunctious among us, remember how much fun climbing a tree was when you were a kid? Start climbing! Just pick your tree carefully; you’re probably not as light as you were when you were ten…
Choose to consciously have fun every day and make the most of now, just like when you were a kid, and you’ll find that your mood improves and you’re less prone to stressing about stuff that’s not really that important in terms of the big picture. After all, there’s more to life than paying the bills.
Bonus Tip: At least once a year, take a sneaky day off and treat yourself. Tell the boss you’re not coming in, then head off for a lovely solo breakfast at a cafe, followed by a movie at the cinema, grab a healthy lunch and eat it in a park whilst you soak up the sun, and then spend the afternoon doing something relaxing that you love, like visiting a gallery or museum, having a spa treatment or going for a swim. Keep it as your little secret and really treat yourself well; you don’t have to spend a lot of money (or even any money) to feel refreshed and recharged.
My forthcoming book, Depression? F*** Depression! will be released worldwide on 28 October 2015* and is now available for pre-order at my website: www.jeremygodwin.net/store. All pre-orders help to raise much-needed funds to promote the book upon launch, so please be generous and purchase a pre-order copy now! Pre-orders available for eBook or limited edition signed print versions. Thank you!
*Available on iTunes/iBooks and Amazon Kindle as an eBook, and in print from Amazon (including Amazon Europe)