Get Out and Play

As soon as we heard that Tuesday would be a snow day, staff and students alike were dancing around the office with joy. Finally! After plenty of snow and just one late start to show for it, we were all thrilled to have an unexpected day off.

My roommates and I were talking last night about our plans for the day, and one of them asked what I was going to do.

“I guess I should do my taxes…so probably that and catching up on some work.”

As soon as this sentence came out of my mouth, I realized how boring the day sounded. Of course I need to do my taxes, and work is always a priority–but snow days are the best kind of holiday, and what about a little imagination?!

snow day snowman playing

Playing in the snow was way better than doing taxes. Spending some time goofing around, building snowmen, and joking with my roommates was the perfect way to start a day that balanced relaxation, joy, and productivity. In his post “The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition”, Mark Sisson addresses the exact situation I found myself in today:

To get the full advantage of genuine play, we have to surrender – or at least suspend – something in ourselves that’s often hard to relinquish — the obsession with obvious productivity for one, the onslaught of technological distraction for another.

Given time off to do anything I wanted (except drive on the icy roads), my immediate impulse was to use this time to do ALL THE THINGS. I woke up, wrote three pages in my journal, then promptly checked my email and made a To Do list. Then I ate breakfast, put on several layers of snow clothes, and went outside with my roommates to play like a kid for an hour.

And guess what? I’ve still been productive. Starting the day with play set a positive tone and high energy level for the rest of the day’s activities. Allowing myself to shake off all responsibility and “obsession with productivity” for even a short time meant that when I did set out to work, I did so with focus and a strong sense of purpose.

Sisson writes primarily about play as “joyous outdoor activity“, and he explains that the benefits of play are most apparent when we embrace the freedom and release that come with full emotional engagement in an activity. I believe this joy can come from many places–shutting your laptop and spending a few minutes engrossed in a joking conversation with your coworker, singing as you cook breakfast, or reading a beautifully written book. Social and intellectual interactions like games and novels help enhance our mental dexterity, keeping us grounded and growing in the present. As Sisson writes,

When we embrace play, we claim a better quality of life for ourselves. We decrease stress. We connect better with those around us. We get out more and get more out of what we do. We find more fun and maybe even meaning.

Playing outside today was certainly a little childish, but it was also something I rarely do. Trying new things and imagining a different world–even if it is inhabited by snowmen, snow pandas, and snow dogs–pushes me to become a more creative individual. Indoors or out, I can’t wait to get out and play more this spring!

snowman roommates

 

 

About Humble Foodie

While we both love to eat well, life as AmeriCorps volunteers doesn’t afford us the budget to try every new restaurant and type of cuisine. With many post-graduate expenses and limited financial resources, what’s a foodie to do? The answer is here, at The Humble Foodie. Instead of spending our hard-earned cash paying other people to cook for us, we’re spending as frugally as possible making delicious meals at home.
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11 Responses to Get Out and Play

  1. I love this! Snow days are not something we get here in Florida–EVER–so your snow photos are making me smile. So glad you had a great, productive, fun, playful day.

    • Alicia says:

      I’m glad to share the snow with you, but I’m a little jealous of the warm weather you must be having. A good amount of the snow has melted, but my driveway is still walled in by 2-3 feet on either side. Womp.

  2. What a great and fun day! So important to have those days every once in awhile. Keeps us joyful of heart 🙂
    Kenley

    • Alicia says:

      So true. I’m glad I treated it like a real holiday. Today it was back to the grind, and I felt more productive than usual after having a true break.

  3. Julie says:

    Ah, I’m still waiting for a snow day! I grew up in SoCal, and then missed the one snow day in all of law school because I was in CA visiting family. haha! Glad you had fun!

    • Alicia says:

      Oh no! Colleges and graduate/professional programs are even stingier with their snow days than high schools. I hope you’ll get to experience a snow day (or some other surprise holiday) soon!

  4. I am with you 100% on play time. Embracing, instead of suppressing, my playful side has made life so much happier (and easier!) in my later twenties. I’m really interested in reading more from the sources you linked to. Thanks for sharing!

    • Alicia says:

      Of course! I hope you enjoy them and would love to hear your thoughts.

      • P.S. Thought you might like the image from this post, from a while back: http://leanerbythelake.com/go-play/ . I tried to get a copy of the print, but it appears to be owned by ESPN. Bummer.

        And on the benefits of play, it’s worth noting that after seven days of flipping and flopping around the in ocean, as well as countless games of Marco Polo, my dad can now turn his neck a full 90 degrees – something he hasn’t been able to do for 10 years.

  5. Ugh, my comments keep getting eaten! Trying again:

    I LOVE playing. It’s the best, and was one of the greatest parts about being a second grade teacher. I’m so glad you went out in the snow and had yourself some good old fashioned fun! A few years ago, a couple friends and I drive around to three different stores until we found sleds and spent the rest of the day hurdling down the snow-covered Michigan sand dunes. So fun and restorative.

    • Alicia says:

      Oh no! Thanks for persevering…but I will check and see if there is a bug or something going on.

      The Michigan dunes have been on my list of places to visit in the summer, but sledding on them sounds even better! And though I don’t work with young kids, even working in a high school allows for some goofing around and play during the day time. I love working with teens for that very reason!

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