Dr Maike Neuhaus
How having fun can make you healthy (+ 8 ways to have more fun in life)
Fun and health may seem like two unrelated concepts, but they are actually closely intertwined. In fact, having more fun in life can lead to better physical and mental health outcomes. In this article, I'll let you in on what we know about the relationship between fun and health; and, I'll provide eight ways you can have more fun in your life.
The link between fun and health
When we engage in enjoyable activities, our bodies and minds release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness, and they can have a positive impact on our overall health. For example, studies have shown that laughter, which is often associated with having fun, can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase immune system function.
Additionally, engaging in fun activities can help us maintain a healthy work-life balance. When we prioritise enjoyable activities, we are less likely to become burnt out or overwhelmed by work or other obligations. This, in turn, can reduce our risk for mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
But having fun can also help us build stronger social connections. When we engage in activities we enjoy, we are more likely to meet people with similar interests. This can lead to new friendships and a stronger support network, which has been linked to better mental health outcomes.
Convinced? Great! Now let's look at some ways you can have more fun 😉
8 Ways to have more fun in life
Try something new
One of the easiest ways to have more fun in your life is to try something new. Whether it's a new hobby, a new type of cuisine, or a new sport, trying something new can provide a sense of excitement and adventure. It can also help you break out of your comfort zone and build new skills.
Spend time outdoors
Spending time in nature has been linked to numerous health benefits, including reduced stress levels and improved mood. Consider taking a hike, going for a bike ride, or simply enjoying a picnic in the park. You could also try outdoor sports like kayaking or rock climbing to add a little more excitement to your outdoor adventures.
Connect with friends and family
As mentioned earlier, having strong social connections is important for our mental health. Make an effort to connect with friends and family members regularly, whether it's through regular phone calls, virtual hangouts, or in-person get-togethers. You could also plan fun outings or events with your loved ones, like a game night or a weekend getaway.
Engage in creative activities
Engaging in creative activities can be a great way to have fun and reduce stress levels. Consider taking a painting or pottery class, learning a new instrument, or writing in a journal. The act of creating something can provide a sense of accomplishment and joy.
Volunteer or give back
Volunteering or giving back to your community can be a fulfilling way to have fun and improve your overall health. Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter, soup kitchen, or community garden. You could also organize a fundraising event or donate to a charitable organization that aligns with your values.
Mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, or tai chi can be a great way to have fun while also improving your mental and physical health. These practices have been linked to reduced stress levels, improved sleep quality, and better mood. Consider joining a local class or trying a guided meditation app to get started.
Travel and explore
Travelling and exploring new places can be a great way to have fun and broaden your horizons. Whether it's a weekend road trip or a month-long backpacking adventure, travelling can provide a sense of excitement and adventure. You could also explore new places in your own city by trying new restaurants, visiting museums, or taking a walking tour. Or, you do what I did and pack your bags and become a digital nomad. I love it - maybe you would, too?
Sometimes, we can get so caught up in our responsibilities and obligations that we forget to be playful. Embracing playfulness can be a great way to have more fun in your life. Whether it's playing with your kids or pets, trying out a new board game, or dancing around your living room, allowing yourself to be silly and carefree can provide a sense of joy and happiness.
Remember, as the famous saying goes: "Laughter is the best medicine". So, don't forget to add a healthy dose of laughter and fun into your daily routine. It's time to start fun-tastic habits that will make you feel great 😊