Updated: Jun 1
This might seem puzzling for you right now. The picture above is me dressed up in balloons attempting to resemble a unicorn. I did it to celebrate a friend's birthday. I blew up SO MANY balloons, created a cone for a horn, stuck them all on me, and then stood around the house for 20 minutes waiting for my friend to arrive. There was no way I could sit down without ruining my costume!
But why did I do this?
To have fun. Making those around me happy brings me joy and improves my resilience.
At the time of this photo I was experiencing a myriad of life changes at home and at work - separation from a partner, one of my children leaving home, personal health challenges, and one of my best friends moving over 3 hours away. Everything I knew to be normal was no longer the same.
It was a very stressful time adapting to the changes. I could feel the weight of it all weighing me down. It would've been easy for me to feel sorry for myself, but I chose another option.
I decided to have fun and dress up as a unicorn! Kooky, yes! BUT it worked.
When times are tough and everything seems too much, it's easy to sit back and feel sorry for yourself.
It's easy to...
Feel like the world is against you.
Things are all too much.
There are no other options.
Believe that you are a failure.
Nothing is working.
It can't be done.
It doesn't have to be this way!
Having fun is often overlooked as a means to build resilience.
It's a skill I remind myself to explore when feelings of overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion appear in my life.
What are some of the other things I've done to build resilience?
I've danced in the snow...
Created a look-a-like "me" using a zucchini (I gave it to my friends to join them on adventures as I stayed at home in covid isolation).
I've learned how to juggle!
And rolled down hills with a friend while our children giggled and laughed in surprise.
These are the moments that make a difference to the outlook we have on life and the way we handle them.
I want to encourage you to look for a version of fun that best works for you. Something that brings you joy and pleasure.
I understand many of the ways I've built my resilience maybe a little kooky to you... however, the important thing is you find what works for YOU! It may be re-connecting with a sport or hobby you've always enjoyed, or getting in the outdoors and taking in the fresh air with those people you love.
Having fun as an adult doesn't have to be hard. It's what lights you up that matters.
For me, it's making others smile and have fun. This brings me the most joy and helps me to get through the moments which are difficult in life.
Sure, as a kid or teen, you might've found this natural and easy. There were organised groups, activities, lessons, and very few responsibilities. Having fun was almost spontaneous. There was always something to do. As an adult or parent with significant responsibilities and pressures, there may be feelings that make you believe it's harder to find fun and/or make time for it. We can believe having fun becomes harder with young kids in the mix. Even more so when the demands and responsibilities of having a career have increased. It can be easy to consider having fun as a luxury that you can’t afford, or as something that sits at the bottom of your list of priorities.
It doesn't have to be like this. In our busy and driven culture, we can feel as though everything we do should get us closer to meeting a goal or achievement. As a result, play or fun can feel counterintuitive because it doesn’t appear to achieve anything. There is no purpose except for the genuine joy that it brings. This isn't true. Play triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which relieve stress and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Involving those people around you and interacting with others in a fun and playful manner can ward off stress and improve your relationships. Find the joy in the day right in front of you, not because you've accomplished that big audacious goal, but because joy is a gift you can give yourself, and others around you.
In all of the craziness and kookiness, I've allowed myself in times of stress and challenges to give myself a mental and emotional break by being creative and releasing the anxiety. It also helps to prevent those feelings of being 'stuck' in a situation and gather the energy and resilience to walk through life's difficult moments.
What are you going to do to have fun today? Let me know in the comments below.