Feel like your life has done a number on your fun factor? You're not alone. Deadlines, bills, and crazy-busy schedules keep most of us from cutting loose and getting silly. All work and no play isn't just dull. It negates something that's hardwired into the human psyche, say "play experts." So we're giving you an assignment: Carve out some time for playtime. Find something that makes you feel like you're floating free, happy, and totally absorbed in your own play land. Here are some ways that a busy grown-up can cut loose, play, and even learn something new along the way.
Find your inner artist. Haul out your water-color set, old sewing machine, or woodworking tools. Feeling musical? Dust off your old clarinet, take a guitar class, or join a band. As long as you're having a good time with no high-pressure expectations, it's play. (Find other ways to look young and stay sharp.)
Flex your green thumb. Gardening doesn't just produce beautiful flowers and produce, it can also be a relaxing way to get your daily dose of exercise in a stress-free way. Once the ground thaws, make a pact to plan and plant a plot this year. Learn other simple ways to be more active.
Turn your workout into play. Haven't found a physical activity that you dig? Don't give up. Be brave in your search. Consider outside-the box activities, such as roller skating, salsa, or hula hoop, or join a sports league at work or in your community. Kickball, anyone? Find out how a video game can help you get fit and have fun.
Learn a new language. The ability to chat in Thai, Greek, or Arabic is good for more than ordering coffee abroad. Learning a new language as an adult or picking up where 10th grade Spanish left off exercises your brain cells in ways that guard against memory loss and fuzzy thinking. Play one of these online games to boost your brainpower.
Tapping into your spontaneous, inner-child packs big benefits for your health, mood, mind, and job, as well as relationships. A recent study shows it eases job strain, connects you with others, and makes you laugh. So what are you waiting for? It's fun time!