I think we can all agree that being an adult or what passes for one pretty much sucks. All the responsibility, early mornings and debt can take the fun out of life. What better salve for the shackles of adulthood than some childhood activities? Revisiting some of the things you did as a 5-year-old can offer not only the joy of reminiscing but also a chance to create some new joy in your life.
Read a childhood/children’s book
This should be a form of therapy. It soothes the soul. Re-read an old favourite and you’ll find you laugh and cry at the same parts as you did way back when. You will also gain a whole new appreciation for the quality of the book. Or you can pick a children’s book that you haven’t read and give that a go. We all know it’s totally acceptable to watch children’s animations so why not read kids’ books?
Have an art attack
Neil Buchanan taught us well and now we must carry the torch. Give yourself a couple of hours with some felt tip pens, pipe cleaners, PVA glue and glitter (always glitter) and you will surprise yourself with your creativity. This one can also be done in a group with friends. Some advice if you are going for one of Neil’s big art attacks, I suggest not doing it in the office as people get very tetchy when all the staplers go missing.
Make a mess in the kitchen
As a kid cooking looks like a magic act. All the chopping and mashing and bubbling and then out comes the dinner. What a glorious mess you could make! Now we have our staple meals and just rotate them during the week. Why not do what your 6-year-old self would’ve done and get messy with your cooking. Mix it up with different recipes, new flavours or different ways of preparing the same meal. Experiment and see what happens. You could end up concocting your new favourite dish.
Needs no explaining. Nap now, nap often.
Have you ever noticed that when you reach a certain age it’s as if asking questions is a juvenile thing to do? Adults should know everything, or at least pretend to. Could this be why we are subject to so much misinformation in our daily lives, all the unchecked facts buoying unchallenged opinions? How many conversations have you had when you just couldn’t bring yourself to stop the person and say “I don’t know what that is?” Kids ask questions all the time, incessantly in fact. So channel the bravery of your 5-year-old self and ask why. At least as an adult you shouldn’t expect the answer “Because I said so.”
Make new friends
“Hi my name is [insert name here], what’s your name?” sounds a bit childish to our grown-up ears doesn’t? But the fact is introducing yourself to someone is all it takes to initiate a lifelong friendship or a 15minute chat. In our adult lives we can become complacent with our relationships. We are busy enough seeing the friends we do we have without worrying about adding more to the list. This can really limit our perspective. You don’t have to be everyone’s BFF but putting in a little more effort with work colleagues can improve the work environment for everyone. Trying different social scenes be it yoga, art class or volunteering can put you in the mix with lots of types of people all of whom are worth the time to talk to. Making friends might seem more daunting as we get older but we are just out of practice.
Unfortunately, I am not advising the use of tantrums and hissy fits when things don’t go your way. By being selfish I mean try to tune in to yourself and listen to how you are feeling. Kids are great at registering emotional and physical feelings and then moving on from them. You don’t have to chase each feeling down the rabbit hole of why because or return to past feelings if they no longer have a part to play in your life. Try to be true to what your body and heart are telling you and let then let it pass.
Similar to the selfishness but it’s important enough to have its own bullet point. Don’t be afraid to cry. If it’s there let it come. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It can help you reboot emotionally and help you to let go of anxieties that needed to be expressed. A sad film can help bring out the emotion if you find it difficult to let go. Or if you’re like me anything remotely sad will do, particularly videos of dogs running around after being given prosthetic limbs. Not able. Crying is a perfectly normal reaction and we don’t need to ban ourselves from crying after a certain age.
The satisfaction of a good stretch cannot be underestimated. Nor can the health benefits. It’s not called a child’s pose in yoga for nothing! Do you ever wonder why you see kids and animals stretching out so much? They move their bodies in a way that feels good, in a way that feels natural. It’s all about breathing, checking in with your body and staying in the moment. Stretching can give you time to prepare for the day or unwind after a hectic one. It also helps prevents injury. Try to give yourself a few minutes a day to stretch out. There are plenty of gentle stretching videos on YouTube by qualified yoga instructors.
Ask the mammy
Mammy is the oracle, she knows all and sees all. Sometimes if a situation has become muddied for you and you need an outside perspective Mammy mightn’t seem like the obvious person to ask. Yes she is very close to you which could seem a barrier to objectively addressing a problem but realistically Mammy is more likely to give it to you straight. Her honest opinion will serve you better than just telling you what you want to hear and she knows that. It may not seem like the grownup thing to do and you probably handle a million and one things entirely on your own but asking.
By Elish Sheridan