I planned to write about weariness today. And honestly, all I want to do is go outside and play.
It might be because the hope of spring is finally descending on us here in New England. (There’s a reason we have Tom Brady, guys. Have you spent a winter in New England? We need *something* to help us survive!)
Or it might be that in acknowledging weariness, I’m also acknowledging a need—a need to let go of the weight of the world and kick up my heels in play.
And sometimes that part of you that’s eating too much or reaching for the remote too often is doing that because it’s low-hanging fruit. What you really need is to let down. And that’s good. But, honestly?
What you need more than that binge-worthy show or giant cupcake is to engage in some soul-mending, mind-stopping, heart-filling, upside-down joy bringing PLAY.
We need to work hard. We need to rest and care for ourselves well.
And we were also hard-wired to DELIGHT in God, in others, and in ourselves.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines play int his way: “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”
Say, what? When was the last time you engaged in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose? Not as a way to spend time with your kids or as a by-product of trying to get through a hard deadline. But when was the last time you let yourself abandon the cares of the world and kick up your heels for just one minute? Play isn’t just for children. Play is something our souls crave. It’s a part of our core Spirit-led self. As I’ve said before, you were designed for enjoyment. . .for re-creation. . . for pleasure. (If in doubt, read Genesis 1-2!) Play and delight are hardwired into your DNA. Play helps us stay fresh and engaged in the present moment. It keeps us from getting stuck in the safety of old routines. Play brings out our creativity—a quality of our truest selves.
Can you imagine how much better your day would go—with a spouse, a friend, a child, or a colleague—if you had a twinkle in your eye and a little bit of zest?
But sometimes that tug toward childlike wonder gets blocked. We get stuck in our rote habits or locked down by critical, controlling parts of ourselves that want us always to work hard. . stay responsible. . care for others. Play breathes life into weary, heavy-laden parts of our souls. It brings us that sense of wonder and helps us access our God-given imagination. So how do you tap into your child-like sense of play when all you feel is weary? Here are a few things to try:
1.) Move Around.
The process of moving your body—whether by taking a walk, dancing just a little to your favorite song, or simply getting up to take a shower—helps you tap into a different part of your brain. Research shows that there is increased flexibility in the brain by simply getting up and changing the position of your body.
2.) Free Write.
If you’re feeling stuck or compelled to numb, it may be that you’re neglecting your emotional life. If you take just 5-10 minutes a day to tap into what you are thinking and feeling and write it down without censoring yourself, you bring some of that pent up emotion to the surface. You may not like what you find, but it’s better to bring it out into the light than bury it. It may feel worse before it feels better. . . but your emotions are an important component of play. So often when we’re feeling worn out or run down, those emotions are showing up begging for your creative, loving attention.
3.) Take yourself on a play date.
I got this idea from Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron encourages readers to do one thing a week on a whim (my words, not hers). Do you have some fleeting desire to wade into the ocean for no good reason at all? Do it. Or maybe to plant some flowers, even though you’ve never gardened before? Try it! Maybe you have some crazy desire to dance to the music a little while cooking dinner or to pick up a marker and draw. Give it a shot! You can do all these things in under an hour , and you don’t have to tell anyone! ? But by giving a little bit of space to the part of you that is weary or dying to get outside the box, you’re opening up room for play.
4.) Cultivate your Inner Eye-Roller.
When you notice yourself getting extreme or sensitive or overly critical, tease yourself just a little bit. Get playful with yourself. A healthy ability to hold oneself lightly goes a Very. Long. Way.
As you practice opening up to a little bit of play, you’ll be surprised that you might feel less weary. The weight of the world is not actually on your shoulders. You’ll see things just a little bit differently and delight just a little bit more in surprising new ways. “I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4