I routinely remind my daughter, “You need to keep trying foods, even if you’ve tried them before, because your taste buds change.”
Yes, of course, some tastes may never change. Personally, I’ve always loved strawberries and can’t imagine NOT loving them to my dying day. But my palette has expanded and I pray my daughter’s will too, so we don’t end up with mac-n-cheese as her wedding dinner.
Here’s the thing… it's not just your taste buds that change. Your play buds change too.
Chances are you grew up playing in specific child-like ways. For example, I loved combining bike riding with imagination games like ‘house’ or ‘school.’ My neighbor and I created an entire world on our street, with plants as our gas station, shrubs as homes, and driveways as places of business.
Now, decades later, this idea of play sounds like torture. I detest both riding bikes and imaginary play with others. But just because I don’t like those types of things doesn’t mean I don't need to engage in play to ensure proper mental health!
Yes, play is important even for adults because it releases endorphins and decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body, making us more resilient. It also boosts creativity and productivity. This is super helpful for my ADHD. Wait, what was I saying?
Basically, more play = 👇 stress and 👆 peace.
What I’ve found is that the best way to re-engage with play, if you’ve been out of the game for a while (pun very much intended) is to start by going outside.
Every type of play can be done outside, and often for free.
Physical play alone can include building a tiny fairy house with tiny sticks or a large fort with large sticks. You can climb trees, play hot lava on rocks, or just run through a field with your eyes closed.
Want to add people? Grab a friend and try the aforementioned activities, or play a game like frisbee or catch.
Solitary imagination play can involve you sitting down in a pleasant place and letting your mind wander… just not to your to-do list and then berating yourself for NOT doing those things! That’s just using your imagination for a terrible cause.
Instead, focus on creating beauty. When I’m in my garden, I use my imagination to design new spaces – whether it’s a fruit orchard in the field, community gardens, or a wishing wall at the edge of the forest. I may never get to actually build these things, but the game of potentiality makes my heart happy and helps me see the world in new ways.
You can also physically wander. Let yourself be pulled through the world by following a bird song or a bee and explore how those creatures see and interact with the world.
Skip stones, look for frogs, plant flowers, read a book, sketch what you see, write a poem about the moon! Whatever it is, give yourself the gift of being lost in that play, even for just 20 minutes.
If you can’t think of anything new to try, think of some ways you played in nature as a child. Maybe you’ll still love them, or you just may find your play buds have expanded and grown up.
Learning to play in both body and mind go hand in hand with practices to move past overwhelm to a place of balance.
Photo by Veronica García on Unsplash
When the constant pursuit to do more leads to overwhelm and anxiety, it’s easy to find yourself feeling disconnected, exhausted, and paralyzed in indecision. For over 15 years, Lynn has been mentoring people through a nature-oriented framework that allows them to reclaim a sense of connection, peace, and purpose.