You are going to hate me but I LOVED running the mile in elementary school. I couldn’t wait for that day! I wasn’t the fastest but I could finish in the top 3…ok top 5. I loved everything about P.E. and recess. In 5th grade everyday was a race to the tetherball pole to dominate with my height and obvious mad skills. With all my enthusiasm I was acutely aware of those around me who didn’t like recess and P.E. I didn’t understand why they didn’t like the freedom from the inside or why they couldn’t seem to find anything they liked to do that was active play. Never was this more obvious than when it was time to choose teams for kickball.
Supposedly kickball is a game meant for everyone with no need for specialized equipment or highly skilled positions. Its supposedly not too violent and supposedly full of fun for everyone. However, every one of us knows that awful sinking feeling of either being the last to be chosen to having to choose the last man standing. It’s the kind of group dynamics that is going to leave a mark.
I have noticed that those 10-year-old feelings of insecurity an isolation don’t necessarily stay on the elementary playground as we grow up. Sometimes if you didn’t feel confident on the playground or in P.E. that can continue into adulthood and could have an adverse effect on your wellbeing if you never found what you were good at or what you enjoyed in active living.
Here are three tips to improve your wellbeing through play.
- Let’s stop pretending it didn’t hurt. It’s important to identify those upsetting elementary school memories or any other memories that convince you are not enough of anything. Focus on exploring and finding out what it’s like to not worry about winning but actually just playing. I feel so strongly that a healthy mindset is a playful mindset. I believe many of our hang-ups with health and wellness could be overcome if we focused more on just having fun with other people.
- Find your encouraging tribe. Did you know obesity is contagious? No, not like a virus but study after study shows if your friends are overweight your risk for gaining excessive weight rises. I am not saying leave your friends but maybe as a tribe value those opportunities to support each other in active play. Even if you all flail horribly together find those people who are going to care about you enough to play with you to improve your wellbeing.
- Give yourself time. Inertia is a property of matter which says things will stay in a state of rest until it is changed by another force. In other words, we have a human tendency to do nothing or stay unchanged unless something really drastic happens outside of us. To get into the habit of play, to get moving, to start enjoying movement, to see active living not as something you have to lose at but actually gain something from you need time. You need to give yourself time to experiment, explore, but also fail. Not every outing is going to be fun or beneficial but it doesn’t mean the next time out you won’t find “your thing” that brings you that sense of childhood freedom from care. Playing can give you that boost of endorphins to improve your wellbeing one step at a time.
How are you going to play more in 2019 to improve your health? Let me know what works, what doesn’t but also who are you having fun with!