The importance of play

Recently my husband bought us bicycles. Not randomly mind you, for a full year hes mentioned every couple weeks that he used to love riding his bike when he was a child and that he really wants to get bikes for us so we can spend more time outdoors and ride.

A whole year!

For most people, being able to play isn't very high on the list of priorities because we are all far too busy being grown up and doing important stuff, but downtime and play time is actually a great deal more important that people realize.

When you watch small children, their first real experiences of exploring the world and learning how everything works, from developing hand eye coordination to social skills, all of this is done though playing. And its little wonder that the most effective team building, even in a corporate environment, happens when there is genuine fun involved.

Making time for things that you enjoy is not just about having fun either. It can actually be a very important part of keeping both your mind and body healthy. Play has the triple threat effect of lowering blood pressure and stress, boosting endorphin's (happy brain hormones) and helping to widen your perspective, making challenges easier to work though. People who spend at least a couple hours a week doing something that is simply for fun tend to lower levels of anxiety, stress and feel more connected, especially if there's a social element involved.

But thats really only part of the story.

Our lives are often so busy, so rigidly scheduled, so prioritized and organized that everything we think or do or plan seems to have a very specific purpose.  Even with something as simple as biking, contains a subtle mindset shift. For instance, we do get a great workout from cycling, but thats incidental and not at all why we do it.

We do it because it fills us with simple joy.

What if we did things literally for fun. For the joy of the moment. What if, for just a while we set aside the guilt over not being productive and goal orientated, and actually just did something that feels good, that makes you smile.

And so back to the bikes.

It was such an amazing feeling to go zooming around the trails like I was 10 again, with the wind in my hair and my legs peddling as fast as they could. Its hard not to find yourself grinning and giggling when you're doing your own little mini bike tour. Of course, being in Texas meant there was plenty to see too. On our first trip out we saw a bob cat and an armadillo (they are the CUTEST THINGS) not to mention we got to race with butterflies who are all out due to the spring weather. It makes for a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

What do you do for fun?