Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #14
While having fun may be an obvious tip to reduce anxiety, stress, sadness, and frustration, it is often not as easy as it sounds (as some of you may experience). I have heard from countless patients throughout the years that they simply don't have time for fun. "What's fun? What do you mean relax?" They may be working long hours, have young children at home, or feel they are otherwise always occupied with... something. Therefore, when a window of opportunity opens for them to enjoy themselves, they may not know what they enjoy, and how to have fun.
When we engage in a fun activity, we are given the opportunity to momentarily cast our troubles aside, and occupy our minds with lighthearted pleasure. This is so essential in giving our minds the chance to unwind, and unleash the pent-up emotions that would otherwise occupy our time and mind. By allowing ourselves to have fun, we are saying, "I am important, I deserve happiness, and I will make it happen."
Now, having fun does not need to be an all-day affair. The good part about having fun is that we are in full control. We can engage in a solitary or group activity, decide how much time we want to set aside, and even choose the activity we engage in. By discovering an enjoyable activity, and then engaging in it, we are taking control over our feelings, and choosing to feel good.
While your mind may drift during these activities, and you may find yourself thinking about work, what you need to do later, tomorrow, and next week, this is okay. If having fun is a rare activity for you, it makes sense that your mind is lagging behind. Your mind may be used to staying busy, worrying, and engaging in otherwise unenjoyable activities. Once you make having fun a consistent activity, your mind will catch up, be in the moment with you, and thank you for allowing it to take a break. So while it may feel frustrating at first to have your mind wander, remind yourself you are on the right track, to be patient with yourself, and never give up on some fun!
If you're having a difficult time discovering a fun activity, try a few out. Think about what your friends are engaged in, and how others occupy their free time. This may include exercise, artwork, baking, or going to a local concert. You may plan a night out at the movies, have a friend over for dinner (you can even cook together!), or treat yourself to a new sweater. You can plan your next vacation, do a puzzle, or go to a museum.
If you have trouble squeezing in some fun, start out small. Start with a small activity for 20 minutes, then maybe work up to an hour every Saturday, then maybe two or three hours.
We all work hard during the week. Whether this is in professional work environment, taking care of a home and kids, or caring for an unwell relative, we all deserve some time to step away from our work and have fun. Having fun means no pressure and no expectations. It is simply...fun!
What's something fun you can do today?
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