The idea of scheduling fun seems to contradict the very notion of fun, doesn’t it? But, as you’ve probably witnessed in your own life, if we don’t schedule it in, sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
All of a sudden, it’s been six weeks since you last saw your friends or tried something new. Life can feel like you’re stuck on autopilot and a great way to change that is to schedule some fun or free time into every day.
I know scheduling doesn’t feel spontaneous and sexy, as it’s easy to believe fun should be, but the payoff is the same.
In fact, the anticipation of a fun experience makes up a large part of the enjoyment you get from it. There are four stages to enjoying a happy or fun thing:
- savouring the moment
- sharing the pleasure with others
- looking back on it with fondness.
We can get these feelings from something as simple as scheduling in time to watch our favourite TV show or joining a dance class with a friend.
When you see these enjoyable moments scheduled in your diary every day, it gives you an extra jolt of pleasure and anticipation. They can even give you the push you need to finish everything from a particularly tricky project at work to cleaning out your wardrobe.
Why else should you schedule fun into every day?
It can improve your relationships
Adults tend to plan their days around things that need to be completed. When our lives become routine and lacklustre, our relationships tend to suffer.
Regaining at least a piece of agency over your schedule by allowing yourself 30 minutes to rediscover fun with a partner or a friend can go a long way. Psychologists and relationship experts John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, from Seattle’s Gottman Research Institute, say fun and adventure are essential parts of a successful relationship. They found that couples who are happy know how to have fun together – showing that when we partake in shared acts of humour and affection, our conflict resolution skills improve as well.
Just remembering to be present with others for 30 minutes, with no phones or distractions to jeopardise the moment, can help your relationships flourish.
It’s good for your brain
Fun naturally stimulates your imagination and curiosity, strengthening your visualisation and critical thinking skills.
Read more: Hobbies that boost the brain
Activities that introduce us to new ideas and concepts such as puzzles and brain games give us a mental workout, which we know helps protect us against cognitive decline as we age.
Even reading is a great way to have fun and stimulate your brain; not only does it reduce stress, but it can transport you into a whole new world.
It can get you moving more
There’s nothing like a bit of physical activity to get the feel-good hormones flowing and if you’re having fun while moving, it’s a double whammy.
Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
You don’t have to go all out either, you can start by taking a brisk walk, doing some gardening or joining a yoga class.
Read more: The best exercise for your brain
You’ll likely laugh more
Chronic stress has long-term negative effects on our wellbeing and a good laugh is a natural antidote to stress. One study found that those who tend to laugh frequently show fewer negative feelings when stressful situations arise.
The same study showed it also helps to mitigate the comorbidities of stress, such as depression and anxiety.
There’s a reason the old adage ‘laughter is the best medicine’ exists.
Read more: Laughter is the best medicine
It’s a chance to let out your inner child
Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in one hour of play than you can in a year of conversation.” Unfortunately, adults tend to ignore play in favour of things that need to be done.
Finding ways to be playful as an adult can ignite your curiosity and imagination; whether that’s taking up an improv class or conjuring up a fantasy world with your grandchildren.
How do you schedule fun?
Choose one day a week or month where you can sit down with your diary and work out where you can fit fun in and how you want to do it.
Look outside your typical hobbies and fill your calendar with things that will make you smile.
Plan a monthly dinner party with friends, scour your town’s event calendar and see which ones take your fancy.
Join a Meetup group or decide on a time to try the new bakery down the road.
These things don’t have to be huge, expensive, or time-consuming. They’re just little things that make you happy that might not happen if you don’t make time for them.
It might help to create accountability with invitations, reservations, classes or non-refundable deposits.
If you’ve already paid for it, you might as well do it!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, how often do you make time for fun? Do you schedule it in, or does it happen organically? Tell us in the comments section so we can learn from you.
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