Addressing, healing, and recovering from issues related to mental health and addiction is such heavy, painful, and powerful work. While this journey of deep recovery needs to be taken seriously, it is also important to remember that taking time to be lighthearted and playful are equally necessary.
But Why Is It Important?
- Being lighthearted and playful can improve our mood and help us loosen up and let go.
- Taking time to play relaxes us, is a form of stress relief, and fights depression.
- It is good for our heart/immune system and gives our internal systems much needed rest.
- Remembering lightheartedness and play fosters integration, and encourages us to take care of your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
- Taking time for play promotes healing through our remembering of the playful, lighthearted, and enjoyable parts of life. This brings balance and increased well-being.
- If we are constantly in pain and processing mode, it might be hard to keep going after a while. Taking breaks from the intensity of healing prevents going numb to it.
- It is healing for our spirit and soul and boosts happiness. Constantly staying in a serious or sad state could impact self-esteem, energy, and enthusiasm for life.
- Periods of lightheartedness can strengthen our commitment to recovery.
How Can I Lean Into Being Lighthearted, Especially When Life Is so Hard?
- Take some deep breaths, shrug, and roll your shoulders for a minute or two.
- Try and shake it off. See if your body feels different and more relaxed.
- Explore your imagination by painting, writing stories, daydreaming, coloring, or drawing.
- Listen to music, dance, watch funny videos or a movie, have some popcorn or ice cream.
- Spend time in nature, go on a walk and enjoy the flowers, look at clouds.
- Sing or practice belly laughs, take a bath, blow bubbles, or go swimming.
- Play puzzles and games, crosswords, sidewalk chalk, jump rope.
- Go swinging, go to a petting zoo, take a cooking class, learn to play music.
- Spend time with friends and loved ones and allow yourselves to be silly together.
Take a Break
- If fun truly feels impossible, try at least to give yourself a break from heavy processing. It will make your healing more effective and will bring some balance back. Schedule 30 minutes or an hour a day for this break, even if you don’t know what you are going to do.
- Remember, this doesn’t mean that you should stop taking things seriously, but that it is important to occasionally lessen the burden of the intense healing work you are doing.
- Other parts of life and the world exist, and lightheartedness and play connect us to them.
- Being playful and lighthearted allows time for integration, because so much healing that we may not even know about is happening in the background. This unconscious processing needs time and space to be experienced, practiced, and fully integrated.
Befriend Your Inner Child
- Another strategy if you are struggling with play, or being lighthearted, is to try to befriend your inner child.
- Ask yourself, “What did I like to do as a child? What brought me joy, happiness, or a sense of adventure?” or, “What was I always curious about, but unable to try?
- Use these responses to guide you and give your inner child a beautiful and fun time.
If you had a rewarding, enjoyable, and playful time, how can you work to include those activities into your life?
- Spending time with our inner child can be hugely transformative and beneficial in the recovery journey. This is an incredible exercise that encourages playfulness, self-love, and self-parenting.
Be Patient With the Process of Relearning How to Play
- Be patient with the process especially if you are redefining and relearning play. This can be so challenging, even more so if you haven’t had or felt fun in a long time. It might take practice and patience to resensitize to things that are playful or lighthearted.
- We may even feel numb, bored, or checked out in our early attempts. Try not to give up or get too frustrated. It might sound silly, but keep practicing playing, until it becomes part of your nature. Remind yourself it is important to experience the spectrum of emotions, and you deserve a rich and full life.
- Try to see it as an opportunity to relearn yourself, and rediscover what brings you joy. It is a beautiful time to embrace the healthy, playful, and fun parts of life.
- Never forget, time for play is just as important as everything else in your life, and the effort you put in now can set the foundation for a well-balanced and rewarding future.
If you are struggling with substance use and have stopped enjoying the playful parts of life, contact us at Ashley Addiction Treatment, a residential recovery facility located in Northern Maryland. So much of the healing journey involves an intense, painful, and serious commitment, and we honor that. But we also know the importance of balance in that process, and we want you to live with joy and light-heartedness. At Ashley Addiction Treatment, we provide holistic and therapeutic support, but also strive to connect you to activities and healing modalities that bring you ease, peace, and a true sense of play. You deserve to experience the good feelings in life. Give yourself that gift. To speak with one of our staff members, or for more information, call us at 800-799-4673.