During my 100 Days of Play I realised fairly early on that a lifesaver was having a ‘backup’ play activity saved up for when I needed it. It was pretty easy for me to find myself fretting about how I might play on a given day – and getting stressed about the challenge wasn’t really the main emotion I was shooting for!
So I bought a bottle of bubbles and each day that I could think of a more involved way to play, I’d do that, and keep the bottle aside to pull out when I was completely stuck for ideas. In fact, in this particular case, I used them when a plan fell through and I had to find something to do fairly late in the evening.
I guess I’m advocating having a ‘break glass for emergency play’ option to hand for when you need it.
I’ve written in the past about Play having its own gravity, and it’s good to remember on a rainy day when it feels like you’re slipping into the dark clouds of depression that you can throw yourself into play and dissolve the shadows before they take over.
I find it really easy to feel, in a particularly down moment, that play isn’t going to cheer me up. I feel just the same when I’m agitated, and I think I ought to take a moment to meditate – a regular practice I’m trying to develop, alongside play. However much I might feel ‘I just don’t want to meditate – it won’t help‘ it’s usually the exact indicator that I should force myself. ‘Oooh,’ I think, ‘this is why they claim it helps!’
So if you can find something easy to play, that you enjoy, and that you can deploy for ten minutes with no notice, it might just be a lifesaver when you’re feeling down.
Yes-Equipment Play Activities!
I guess I’m advocating having the opposite of no-equipment games to hand. I.e. equipment-specific play activities, that will force you to play just by getting them out.
A few ideas from the library:
- Folding for fun – have some origami paper and instructions ready to have a go when you feel like folding your way to victory.
- Getting lost in mobile games – I’m not someone who’s down on mobile gaming – but maybe have one ready to play that you reckon you’d enjoy. I find casual games tend to lose their lustre pretty quickly on repeat play!
- Cooking up a cookie storm – have the ingredients on hand for some baking – they tend to be store cupboard staples rather than perishables – if you can avoid nibbling the chocolate.
- Gone swimmin’ for my 100 days of play – not exactly a piece of equipment, but I can’t help but play when I go to the swimming pool!
- Colouring in for mindfulness and play – colouring-in book, coloured pencils – need I say more?
- The most boring jigsaw ever? – a jigsaw. You can choose an interesting one (tip: avoid ones with lots of sky!)
- Rain… come again on washing day – not everyone’s idea of play, but with a bucket and some washing-up liquid (oh, and a dirty car!), I’m away.