No matter our age, we all need to have fun.
That’s the message from psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Brown, who says that as we get older, our lives become more structured – with work, bills, and chores. So we’re less likely to have spontaneous fun. And that’s a problem, because Dr. Brown says that having fun is like, quote: “wearing a suit of armor.” It protects our health. As adults, laughing and playing is a proven way to lower blood pressure, strengthen social bonds, and beat stress. So, how can we add more fun to our lives?
First: Get a hobby that uses your hands. Things like painting, writing, crafts, cooking and gardening are as close to childhood play as many adults get, because we have to use our hands. A recent study of 35-hundred senior citizens found that those with creative hobbies, in which they had to use their hands, were significantly less frail and they had less cognitive decline.
Another way to add more fun to your life: Play a game. Even if it’s a videogame on Facebook. In fact, the average online gamer today is a 43-year-old woman – who plays games like Words With Friends and Angry Birds. And surveys show that people who play games are more likely to socialize – on or off line – and tend to be happier in their relationships. And socializing has long-term health benefits because it relieves stress.
Also: Listen to music. Psychologists say music offers one of the quickest ways to switch us out of a bad mood, and into a good one. And a study found that spending as little as 2 hours a month listening to our favorite music has as big an impact on lowering our blood pressure as losing weight, or avoiding salty foods.
Finally, for women – do fewer chores. Housework gets in the way of relaxing. And women do the majority of it. When psychologists studied what people did when they got home from work – the women who did chores didn’t have a dip in their cortisol levels. So their stress levels stayed elevated – straight from work into housework. But to live your healthiest life, you need to relieve stress. So either ignore your chores – or get help. Because after working all day, you need to relax.