I read a New Year’s day blog by Ron Lieber of the New York Times titled "Think Seriously About Paying for Play." I don’t think reading his blog will seriously alter your approach to play in your life, but I do think it will give you a greater perspective and may get you to approach your play in a smarter fashion. At its best play promotes a lack of self-consciousness – you get to lose yourself in the moment. Lieber references Brene Brown’s writings where she has you consider how you interact with an infant. You make silly faces and allow yourself to be goofy. Goofiness it turns out is good for you. Play not only is stress reducing, but it revitalizes you.
Vacations can be excellent play times, but vacations with families can also not be relaxing and you can return home more exhausted that when you left. Sometimes we all need a vacation after our vacation.
Mr Lieber points out that vacations tend to cost money and for most families sacrifices need to be made to allow them to happen. He mentions a family that traded in eating out so that they could save money to travel. While we all certainly need to prioritize our interests and allocate our resources to accommodate our needs and desires, there are plenty of play activities that don’t carry much of a financial load.
Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written a lot about flow and synthesized his thoughts for this Ted talk. We all probably have a sense of what flow is all about. Usually it happens when we are doing something and lose track of time as well as self-consciousness. Hobbies tend to provide this, along with sports or other athletic activities. People can get lost at a movie or with a book, but the best flow activities involve not just your attention but also your body moving. People play sports. There used to be a sportscaster that said: “In the department store of life, sports are, after all, in the toy department.” If you really want to save some money and get into the flow of play, relieve some stress and have an engaging time go find some athletic activity that you can do. You don't need to join a team, although that can be fun. You just need to move your body while you fully engage yourself in what you are doing.
If you are not one for athletics perhaps music might grab you attention. You can play it or listen to it, both seem to be excellent stress reducers and bring a lightness and joy with them. I am not much of a singer, according to those that have listened to me, but that does not stop me from singing along to the jukebox in my head that rolls out random hits from my past. While singing along might best be accomplished alone, singing with others, even if it is at a concert venue is a playful activity.