The Importance of Adult Play Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you can't have fun. Try these tips to reduce stress. BY DEBBIE MANDEL
Bringing back the playfulness you had as a child can reinvigorate your marriage.
“ The classic plot structure in theatre is the same for both a tragedy and comedy, from Shakespeare to Neal Simon.”
Nerve-rattling stress can be transformed into flowing, vital energy. Just tease out your sense of fun, while you cultivate a comic eye for life’s obstacles—like you did when you were a kid and colored outside the lines. When it concerns your personal joy, you don’t have to wait for external events. You can be joyous for no reason at all with a happiness and sense of humor that comes from inside you. Adult play is not a waste of time. Rather, it is a necessary component of healthy living.
If you are a type-A personality, please note that playing and or fooling around will activate creativity and passion transferring laterally to other aspects of your life, including work and your marriage. According to the American Medical Association, when you take a vacation from work—even a four-day weekend—you are more inventive, productive and healthier (fewer sick days) when you return.
In my trainings and workshops I show people how to experience F-U-N: Feeling Uninhibited Naturally. The classic plot structure in theatre is the same for both a tragedy and comedy, from Shakespeare to Neal Simon. The main character has a big problem and in the end the problem is solved one way or another. The basic difference lies in the perception, the framing of the problem and the point of view. These determine whether there is a sad ending or a happy one. So goes life. You can plan an elaborate romantic evening on a moonlit beach and have it end with a miserable argument or you can clean the kitchen together, laugh and talk it up in a loving flirtation. It’s not what you do, but how you do it.
This is why I love Halloween. Adults take a cue from children and give themselves permission to dress up in costumes that depart from the straight lines of personality. They play out different parts of their submerged identities like the pirate or Marilyn Monroe. But why wait for Halloween? During the summer, my girlfriends and I, wearing cheap synthetic wigs, (my short brunette hair transformed into long, straight bright red hair) celebrated a birthday lunch in an elegant restaurant. When we were seated, we attracted a few stares, dropped forks and heard some whispers. Men eyed us curiously like we were call girls. Then a couple of well-dressed women approached our table and asked, “Where can we get wigs like yours?” By the way, I wore my new wig home and my husband felt like he was flirting with a different woman—and he was! I leave the rest to your imagination.
Release the spirit of childhood—the part of you that doesn’t correspond to the image in the mirror—an antic energy who lives in the moment. Do you work long hours from Monday to Friday just to enjoy one day of your weekend (most of us use Saturday or Sunday to catch up laundry and household chores)? Living like this seems out of balance. Find something fun to anticipate every day. Remember anticipation is great fun too! Here’s a formula for balance: concentrated energy plus relaxation equals healthy living.
Tips to engage in adult play:
1. Don’t overanalyze what you like to do or when you would like to do it.
2. Don’t worry about what the neighbors will think. If you hear, "What’s gotten into you?" You’re on the right track.
3. Embrace simplicity.
4. Look at your old photos for a reminder. Which stand out more: the candid shots or the posed all dressed-up ones?
5. Create a special fun activity for those dreaded Monday mornings like a power breakfast with a friend or colleague.
6. Check your newspaper for free fun like concerts, films and fairs.