“Serious art is born from serious play.” – Julia Cameron

Being an adult comes with serious responsibilities and that seriousness often spills over into many parts of our lives, including our self-care practice. Sometimes, though, our self-care rituals need less seriousness and more play, in order to help us feel our best.

What exactly does it mean to play?

Dr. Stuart Brown, the author of the book Play,  calls play a “state of being: purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” Basically, play is about doing something fun without having any particular goal in mind.  Many studies have shown the positive effects of play for children. Turns out some of the same effects apply to adults, too. Engaging in play regularly can increase productivity, cultivate creativity, and deepen bonding between people. Play can also infuse our routines with a renewed energy.

As you think about your self-care practice, here are three ways that you can incorporate some much-needed play into them.

Remember when you were a kid.

Take out a piece of paper and think about what you loved to do at various parts of your childhood. Dr. Brown refers to this as a play history. What foods did you love to eat? What was your favorite television show? What toys and games did you play? After you create your list, circle two or three things that will do this month. Spend five to ten minutes going through your list as a part of your self-care routine.

Try a self care mash up.

Create a totally new self-care activity by combining the past with the present. Take one thing from the list you just made about your childhood. Then, write down one thing you currently like to do for self-care. Combine the two and come up with something new! If you like cooking now and loved cartoons as a kid, then create some culinary creations of your favorite cartoon characters. If you enjoy taking walks now and loved drawing as a kid, then bring a sketchbook on your next walk and draw what you see.

Follow your curiosity.

Being curious about the world around you is one major aspect of play. How can you explore allow that curiosity to guide the way? This might look like going to a toy store and choosing something to buy. Or it might look like digging in the dirt in your backyard or playing in the water. Follow your curiosity and allow your self-care to be spontaneous sometimes.

The past year has been full of so many things including a pandemic, and social unrest. Now it is more important than ever to ground yourself in self-care practices focused on joy and play. Find joy right where you are and enjoy the inevitable benefits that will follow.

How will you incorporate play into your self-care? Share with us in the comments!