I LOVE coloring. Always have, always will. Coloring allows you to just zone out and think of nothing else but staying in the lines while coloring a princess and her woodland friends. I’m convinced that coloring on a regular basis can actually reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. When you get home after a hard day at work, pour yourself a glass of wine, whip out the 64-pack, and make something come to life. Sitting in front of the computer all day at work fries your brain, and there’s no need to fry it even more watching television for the few hours before bed. Be creative, use your imagination. Mix colors, press down hard enough to break crayons, shade as enthusiastically as you did while in preschool. Coloring is relaxing, mindless, and will take you back to the good ol’ days.
2. Go on the swings
There is no feeling as freeing as the one you experience on the swings. Sure, your hips might not fit as easily as they used to and your feet might drag in the wood chips, but once you get going it’s like you can fly. With every pump of your legs and strain in your arms, with the breeze rushing through your hair and blowing in your face, the years start falling away. What job? What loans? As adults, we’re always thinking about one problem or another, but sometimes we need to find an excuse not to. Go to a playground. Go on the swings. Your cheeks will flush, your eyes will water, your stomach will drop with every downward fall. You’ll be breathless and happy once you finally jump off, no matter how you were feeling beforehand.
3. Read Shel Silverstein
Remember The Giving Tree? Where the Sidewalk Ends? Falling Up? Shel Silverstein was a creative genius when it came to writing children’s books. How much did you love the rhythm and rhyme and playfulness of his writing? Trust me, it will still have the same effect on you now as it did then. You will still love the feeling of the funny words tripping over your tongue, how smoothly each line flows together like the lyrics of a song. You need a break from the serious novels and work documents and depressing newspaper stories. You need to remember that sentences can be silly and words can be fun to play around with. And there are always deeper meanings in his poems that will apply to your life even now (that you probably overlooked at a young age).
4. Don’t care about your appearance
As a child, you never cared about how you looked. You would come back to class after recess sweating bullets, your hair a tangled, windblown mess, your shoes covered in mud, your shirt stained from lunch. Did you give a shit? Absolutely not. It just meant that you had a good recess. As self-respecting adults, we now know we can’t present ourselves as such. We are horrified if we look in the mirror and see a poppyseed in our teeth, a stray hair sticking up, a microscopic tear in our blouse. But sometimes, just let yourself not care like you did then. Go run around outside regardless what you’re wearing, spin around in the rain squealing with delight rather than shrieking with fear because of your straightened hair, eat a messy ice cream cone and let your face and fingers remain sticky afterwards, shoot the hose up in the air above you while washing the car, jump into piles of freshly raked leaves and let them get snarled in your hair. Get sweaty and dirty and unashamed.
5. Play at the beach
As adults at the beach, we just lay on a towel or sit in a chair, baking in the sun or cowering under an umbrella. We’ll rinse ourselves off in the ocean when we get too hot before reclaiming our post with People magazine. Next time you go to the beach, sit your ass in that sand without worrying about it getting on you. Pick up fistfuls of it and let the grains slowly trickle onto your bare legs. Dig, just to dig. Bury your feet. Build a sandcastle that takes up a significant part of your day (with a moat, seashell windows, and stick spires). Run into the ocean and back out again when the waves come. We need to embrace the beach again and really enjoy what it’s offering rather than a good place to tan. Don’t let age steal your innocence, your youthful freedom, your undeniable need for play.