The summer is often a time for vacations, enjoying family, and relaxation. One of the first questions I often ask patients is, what do you do for fun? Some have a difficult time responding to this question and may reply with "I have no idea how to have fun anymore." Of course, many of the individuals I meet with in my office are seeking treatment due to depression, trauma, loss, and/or significant conflicts so it's no wonder they struggle to find fun in their lives. But many of us blindly go through the daily grind and never consider that life should be fun too. All of us go through seasons of stress and turmoil, but hopefully we experience joyful times as well. Some people are so overcommitted, stressed out, and overwhelmed with life that nothing seems fun anymore. Even what others might consider like a vacation may seem like a chore. Many of us are so burdened with responsibilities and activities that we completely lose sight of what fun looks like and how to experience it.
Many of us are task-driven people and fixate on getting the job done before even considering fun time. Some have a very hard time being still and enjoying the moment. Others feel guilty having fun unless all of their tasks are completed, even though that chores list is never ending. There is always something else we can do or accomplish, but having fun seems frivolous and unproductive. This is called "human doing" versus "human being." I grew up with a father who had a strong work ethic and rewarded people for work not play. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop working, be still, and relax. In fact physical activity for me is fun even in the heat of the summer. I feel more alive and energized when I sweat following a good workout, even though I recognize others can't relate to this approach at all. In order to carve out time for fun, I encourage people to work on tasks for a set block of time and then move on to something enjoyable. So many struggle with finding a healthy balance between work and play.
Sometimes really simple activities that are free provide the most fun, like enjoying a sunset, a walk on the beach, a good cup of coffee, or watching a great movie or sporting event. Our bodies need rest and time to rejuvenate after a long and stressful week so it's important that we take the time to reboot. Make your own fun list and commit to doing at least 2-3 items from your list every week. Remember some people have more fun when they share activities with others while others prefer to spend the time alone. While I'm all about accomplishments and achievements, making time to enjoy friendships and activities creates a fuller and more rewarding life. Make having fun a high priority and seek a healthy balance in your life. We will live longer if we stay active, stay connected, and stay mentally challenged.