Mentally drained? Try playtime to relieve your stress
Do you ever drive past a playground, see children playing and have an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for your childhood days?
I thought so.
As my life continues to get busier and busier, this longing I have for the days when the most complicated thing on my plate was making sure my dolls got goodnight kisses becomes stronger and stronger. To quote the amazing "Grey's Anatomy": "We're adults. When did this happen, and how can we make it stop?"
I suppose it was a gradual transition, because if it was not, I am quite certain I would have put a stop to this adult stuff long ago. Gone are the days when we could innocently play. Playing "house" has been replaced with dating, and many people who played with G.I. Joes have become soldiers themselves. Was this really what we wanted? As a 7-year-old playing house, I did not bargain for heartaches or hookups.
When was the last time you spent an entire day having fun? That you did not once think about the responsibilities that you had, feel guilty about wasting time or stress about the extra work you would have to do the next day because of playing today?
This semester is four weeks over. Whether you think, "Wow, already?" or "That's it?" we are almost a quarter of the way there. Both feelings are scary. When people told me four years ago to make sure I enjoyed college, because it would be over before I knew it, I scoffed. It was four years. Four years is a long time!
Now I know better. It feels like I met my first friend at UK yesterday and took my first college test last week. Every semester, my life creates a new definition of busy - and, to be quite frank, I'm tired of it.
Last week, among piles of reading, hundreds of e-mails and very little sleep, I decided it was time for an adventure. It was dark, it was cold, and it was mildly raining - essentially perfect adventure conditions. That night's adventure just happened to be the playground at Woodland Park.
For the first time in my life, I discovered that I am too tall for the swings, and pumping was not really an option. They also don't twist up quite like they used to.
After the swings, we tried out the slides. You definitely do not slide as fast as you did when you weighed 45 pounds, but it's a solid experience nonetheless. Monkey bars have been replaced with this strange game called "SkyGame" that makes no sense, and the zip line does not actually slope downhill. There were strange bouncing things that were absolutely zero fun, and a lot of nooks and secret passageways that we, unfortunately, could not fit our bodies into. (What it all boils down to is that essentially, modern playground equipment sucks.)
But as much as I miss some of the equipment at our old stomping grounds, the feeling of relief that washed over me from the first time my feet left the ground that night was overwhelming. Swinging is swinging, and whether you are in first grade or a junior in college, a playground is a playground.
All of a sudden, the millions of things I had to do were completely unimportant - in fact, I couldn't even remember what they were. Swinging gave me a sense of freedom. For ten minutes, my to-do list did not exist, and all that mattered was swinging higher than my friend.
Next time you are nearing a mental breakdown and have a laundry list of things to do, take half an hour to play. And I mean really play. Play tag or red rover; climb a tree or find a slide; roll down a hill or ride your bike. Just because we're almost adults doesn't mean we can't have fun! If little kids look at you like you're crazy, rest assured: You are still cooler than they are.
And if you're tired the next day, who cares? I promise that it is absolutely impossible to be upset if you spent the night before playing on a playground.
BY TARA BONISTALL