As children we do things with an abandon that seems hard to recreate as we 'stumble' through adulthood. We have responsibilities, work, family, and other things that need our time and attention - who still has time for childhood activities, right?
Well, it turns out that research has found that we should make time for at least some of our childhood activities as it makes us happier adults.
Here are at least five things that we should incorporate into our lives:
Take a nap
Ah yes, the Spaniards have got it right when they take short breaks in their warm summer days for a little siesta. I know that we don’t always have the time to take a nap but cultivating this habit - even if it’s over the weekend - can boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem-solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning as well as help with stress levels, heart management and yes, weight management. That’s a lot of wins for a little nap!
Bust out the coloured pencils and start colouring!
Colouring for adults has become a very popular pastime lately - and with good reason. Even before it was the ‘in’ thing, Carl Jung used to prescribe his patients mandala pages to colour as a form of therapy. These days experts recommend colouring as a way to reduce stress, process emotional responses and for its meditative effects and benefits.
So next time you’re getting your kids a set of coloured pencils, grab a set for yourself as well. Bookstores are now filled with colouring books for adults (or just grab one for kids! Why not?)
When was the last time you just sat and daydreamed? As adults we call it ‘visualisation’ and some of us haven’t done it in such a long time we have trouble letting our mind wander. A lot of people have such problems with daydreaming and essentially doing ‘nothing’.
We have been so conditioned to always be productive members of society that the act of just sitting and being is considered a waste of time. However daydreaming can make us more creative and nurture our problem solving skills. These moments allow us to hone the cognitive and emotional integration that we need for socio-emotional wellbeing.
So head to the park or beach, or even just go for a walk and let your mind wander.
Children really have no problem with physical contact - until we socialise it out of them. I’ve had kids who have known me no longer than two minutes who have no problem leaning, climbing, holding and hugging me. However adults… for some of us, the only form of touch that we get and give is with our significant other. And there are some without significant others who go without touch for years!
Humans are creatures that need touch. Hugging and cuddling releases feel good hormones like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. Embraces can boost our immune system, lower blood pressure and just make you feel all round yummy. No wonder kids want loads of cuddles.
When I say make something, I don’t mean make the next work of art! Kids don’t worry if what they’re making is beautiful - or even if it makes sense. Just give them some tools and out spews whatever they feel like making. It’s almost as if it’s a physical need that needs to be released.
As adults we hold ourselves back a lot more. Many won’t even start a project unless they’re sure it’ll come out perfect. Even more claim that they’re not ‘creative’ and refuse to create anything. One study found that over 80% of knitters who suffered from depression reported happier moods when knitting.
Making and crafting also mimic the stress-relieving effects of meditation. So let go of perfection and just get out there and start making!
We often underestimate simple childhood activities, brushing them off as ‘kid-play’ but play is every bit as important in our adult lives as well. Don’t forget to incorporate some into your own!