When people become overstressed or unwell they tend to give up the things that they normally enjoy. They often have less energy than usual and feel that they have to use all of the energy they have left on productive activities. Fun is seen as a time-consuming frill that they can't afford. This is a serious problem. Why? Because having fun gives you more energy than it takes.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by health concerns, work demands, or family issues, your energy reserves are probably low. Removing the things that you normally enjoy can feel like a way of conserving your energy for more important tasks. In reality, giving up enjoyable activity actually reduces your energy in the long run.

Some appear to believe that having fun is somehow selfish, frivolous, or unproductive, particularly when faced with external life demands. By taking time for those things that you enjoy you build your own strength, boost your self-esteem, and give yourself a chance to "blow off" some of life's stresses. In other words, having fun is not only enjoyable, it is good for you!

Fun is not an option. It is important!

Although you may have many priorities in your life, it is essential that you make room for at least some of the activities that you enjoy.

Maintaining one's well-being requires a balance between the physical, social, economic, spiritual, and mental aspects of life. This is unique to your own experience and needs. At times, you may find yourself out of balance and it can take an effort to regain equilibrium.

In finding your balance, it is important to remember that you may feel that you don't have the time, energy, or interest to do some of the things you enjoy. Don't wait for your eagerness or interest to return before you get moving. They may not come back on their own. First, you need to begin doing some of the things that you used to like. The enjoyment and enthusiasm often come later.

Tips for having fun

  • Schedule
    While it is wonderful when spontaneous, fun events occur, it also helps to plan. Make sure there is time in your day that is put aside for your own enjoyment.
  • Be realistic
    Be honest and practical when you consider those activities that you think you would enjoy. They need not require inordinate amounts of time, money, or extra equipment. Do those things you want to do, not what you "should" do.
  • Play with others
    Do things with friends, family, or colleagues whose company you enjoy. This will not only help maintain your connections but will provide ongoing motivation to have fun. Of course, it is quite alright to make time to play alone if your day is already full of social obligations.

(a program developed at the Department of Psychology, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre)
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team