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BE WELL

THE MAGIC OF PLAY

By Bridget Belden | Contributor

SUMMER 2024 ISSUE

Ahh, summer. When I was a kid, summer meant days that stretched out forever, punctuated only by trips to the beach, sleepovers and lazy mornings. As an adult, I still felt that freedom when my kids were little. There was a part of me that celebrated with them — the no homework, flexible schedule part — while the other part of making sure their days were filled (camps, camps, camps!) was in direct opposition. 

 

As a young mom, I was all about getting business done. I had to be to a certain extent — I worked outside of the home and having schedules nailed down was a necessity. Now that I am older and the kids are out of the house, at least for the moment, I have come to appreciate the importance of play (which kinda sounds like an oxymoron).

 

Something happens as adults who are “adulting.” We lose touch with that freedom we had when we were kids rolling around in the sand, playing in mud puddles or letting our imaginations run wild with sticks, rocks or any other tool that could conjure up a journey from here to there and back again. We were creative and imaginative, and man it was fun!

 

This summer, I am choosing to embody some of that freedom again, making time for more things that are just … fun. No matter your age or stage in life, I invite you to join me. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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Outdoor and Physical Activities

  • Join a local sports league (soccer, basketball, tennis) or participate in individual sports like swimming, cycling, or running. These activities not only keep you fit but they also provide a social outlet.

  • Explore trails, parks and natural areas in your area. Hiking offers physical exercise and a chance to connect with nature, which is good for the soul.

  • Take up dance classes like salsa, ballroom or hip-hop. 

 

Creative and Artistic Pursuits

  • Whether you take a class or play around at home, painting, drawing, sculpting or other arts and crafts are a great way to let your creativity flourish.

  • Write short stories, poetry or even a blog. Not sure where to start? Write every day for 10 minutes to see where your mind takes you.

  • Learn to play a musical instrument or join a local choir or band. 

 

Games and Puzzles

  • Organize game nights with friends or family. Play classic board games, strategy games or card games like poker or bridge. Or try my new fave — mahjong!

  • Solve jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, Wordle or other brain-teasing games. 

 

Social and Group Activities

  • Participate in trivia nights at local pubs or try an escape room challenge with friends or older kids. 

  • Plan trips and explore new places, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a staycation or a longer vacation. 

  • Take cooking or baking classes, or host cooking parties. 

Mindfulness and Relaxation Play

  • Practice yoga or meditation to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body. 

    • Whether it’s planting flowers and vegetables or maintaining a small herb garden, gardening can be therapeutic and fulfilling.

  • Read for pleasure and join book clubs to discuss your favorite stories. This can be a great way to enjoy literature and connect with others who share your interests.

This summer, take a cue from the kids and choose something that brings your heart joy. Whether that’s building sandcastles on the beach with your children or taking dance lessons with your partner, make time to play — you deserve a break from the tasks of daily life. Who knows what magic awaits you?

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