I got a call from my daughter last week. As a college freshman, she was feeling a bit overwhelmed by her new school and work schedule. While I listened to her talk, I realized that though she was doing a good job studying and being productive at work – she was missing an important piece of keeping the stress at bay. She wasn’t taking the time to play. Emily felt she had so much to do that she couldn’t take a break and do something just for the fun of it.
My solution for her was simple. I told her that every day she needed to play. Even if it was just for ten or twenty minutes a day. I told her that play; especially the kind of playing that involves physical activity, boost endorphins – the ‘feel good’ substance that keeps her happy during stressful times.
So for Emily, I generated a ‘play list.’ I emailed her about fifteen suggestions that I knew would get her mind off the stress of school and on to the good things in life. And I told her to pick one a day and get to it. Here’s a sampling:
Go to your hip hop class
Get a chocolately coffee drink at Common Grounds
Listen to music on your iPod and dance, dance, dance
Smile at people when you’re walking to class
Sing in the shower
Make a Target run and buy a cute top
Eat breakfast every morning and don’t worry about running out of dining dollars
Mosey down the hall and make a new friend
Go to Bath and Body and pick up some new lotion
Take a jog with a friend when the weather is nice
Go to church and sing your heart out
Drink a Sweet Leaf tea and think of Lake Austin
The play list worked for Emily. When I talked with her about a week later, she felt much happier. And it wasn’t because the school work was easier or the job was less demanding, it’s that her life was more balanced.
The truth is we could all use a reminder about life balance. It’s important to remember that play should be seriously considered if you want to develop a healthy lifestyle. So if you’ve been working hard and your smile is upside down – why not get a personal play list going? And get out there and enjoy your life!