When is the last time you laughed so hard that it hurt? Have you done anything lately just for fun? Are the responsibilities, obligations and to-do lists in your life taking up all of your focus? If having a good time is nowhere on your radar, maybe it’s time to let loose and has more fun.
If you view fun as optional, a nice idea or something for people with extra time on their hands, you might be surprised to learn that a lack of fun can lead to an increased risk of health problems. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, folks who carry a high-stress load and don’t regularly engage in fun activities may have an increased risk for health conditions like heart disease, premature death, chronic headaches, and depression.
Dr. David Posen, author of the book, “Is Work Killing You? A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress” wrote, “Chronic stress causes high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. It suppresses the immune system, making you prone to infection. It can lead to insulin resistance ― where the body doesn’t handle sugar well ― predisposing you to obesity and diabetes. There is also evidence that it accelerates aging.”
When life gets intense, it’s natural to put your head down and keep working hard. However, current research leads us to believe that it may be better to let your hair down and have a little fun in the midst of life’s burdens. In case you’ve forgotten how to loosen up, we’ve made a list of 13 ways to add more fun to your life. For a good time, read on.
1. Enter a Contest
It’s fun to enter a contest. You can search for contests online, at your local community centers and, sometimes, even at stores you frequent. State and county fairs often have baking contests. If you like to write, enter a writing contest. If you enjoy painting, then submit your work into a local art contest. Call into the radio station to try and win concert or event tickets.
If you don’t feel particularly motivated to enter any type of contest, or you can’t find one you like, host your own. A friend and I once held a chili cookoff at her home. We invited a few people who liked to cook and some who liked to eat. It was so much fun.
2. Get a Pet
It’s been well-established that spending time with pets can reduce stress and improve mental health. Recently, it was found that even owning a tank of fish can melt away stress. Pets can bring lots of fun and joy into your life.
Low-commitment pets like sea monkeys, hermit crabs, snails and certain types of frogs and reptiles are great choices if you don’t want a lot of pet-care responsibilities. If you have the time and desire to own a companion animal, like a cat or dog, search classified websites for unwanted pets. Some people who are relocating would love to find safe homes for animals they have to leave behind.
3. Learn to Dance
If you’re looking for instant fun and good exercise, try dancing. Often, country music bars will host line-dancing events complete with lessons. Swing dancing events are also pretty easy to find. Most will offer pre-event lessons for a few bucks. You can also pay for private or group dance lessons at a studio. Along with the sense of accomplishment from learning a new skill, you’ll truly have a blast dancing.
4. Join a Club
It’s easy to have fun with people who enjoy the things you enjoy. Find a club to join. There are clubs for people who enjoy wine tasting, reading fiction and nonfiction literature, hiking, snorkeling, sewing and all sorts of hobbies. Search online for local groups. Also, check the library and the community center in your area.
5. Host a Murder Mystery
A murder mystery dinner is a fantastic excuse to dress up in costume, have your favorite people over and experience a night you’ll never forget. You can buy murder mystery kits online and in stores ― or write your own. You send each of your friends a character description a week before the party. Then, they can begin to gather supplies for their costumes and perhaps learn an accent. The night of the murder, everyone shows up at your place and receives his or her script.
6. Go Geocaching
Many people have fun geocaching. Geocaching is a form of modern-day treasure hunting, minus the valuables. Geocachers look on various online sites to find global positioning system (GPS) coordinates where little boxes are buried or otherwise hidden. Then, they use their mobile phones or GPS locators to search out the geocache. A typical geocache (cache, for short) will contain a logbook to sign and sometimes a trinket to take. It is often expected that the geocacher will also leave a trinket behind in the cache for the next hunter.
Geocaching truly brings out the adventurer in most people who try it. All you need to begin is a smartphone, tablet or other GPS-enabled devices.
As of the date of this publication, geocaching is legal in every country except North Korea, where GPS technology is illegal. Check with your locality for any community-specific ordinances or guidelines regarding geocaching.
7. Create a Fun Board
You’ve heard of a vision board and a bucket list, right? How about creating a fun board? Just use a board of any kind ― cardboard, foam board or poster board. You pick the size. Then, find a creative way to represent things that look like fun to you. You can find images from magazines or online to create a collage on your board. You can make lists, draw pictures, use symbols or combine several expressions to make a visual fun board that you can hang in your home or office ― anywhere you need a reminder to stop and make time for fun. Making a fun board is an exercise you can complete alone or with a close friend.
8. Open an Unofficial Comedy Club
Invite your friends over for an event called “Three-joke Minimum.” At a Three-joke Minimum get-together, each of your guests is asked to bring a dinner dish to share and three jokes. Your attendees must share their three jokes before the end of the night. Obviously, this is an amateur situation. You may need to set some guidelines as to which types of jokes to tell, such as being family-friendly, no blonde jokes and so on. An event like this can induce all sorts of laughter, good conversation, and so much fun.
9. Invite Your Friends to Breakfast for Dinner
Host a dinner party. But invite your friends to come in their pajamas ― and serve breakfast! If they want to contribute, have them bring orange juice or muffins. Wear your best PJs and have a great time of it.
10. Sing Karaoke
Friends, please be aware that I’ve sung karaoke completely sober, and it was the most fun I’ve had in decades. Can’t sing? That’s no excuse! In fact, if you own your out-of-key ballad, the crowd will go wild for you. Find a restaurant that hosts karaoke night, grab a few of your most adventurous friends and cut loose.
11. Talk to Strangers
Remember the last time you were in a long line or a stacked waiting room? Maybe it was to renew your driver’s license or at the store line on Black Friday. The next time you’re in a line of strangers, start chatting up the people around you. They are just as bored as you are. If you look for some common ground, you might have a better time waiting. Perhaps you’ll laugh a bit or even make a friend. We’re all in this together.
12. Host a Card Party
Remember way back before the internet when nearly all of us had decks of cards sitting on the coffee table? It wasn’t unusual, back in the pre-internet age for neighbors to come over and play rummy, bridge, poker, canasta or other card games. If you don’t know how to play cards, look up some of the more common games and learn the rules. Then, invite some friends from work to come over for a game night. Provide snacks or a taco bar and have fun with it.
13. Buy Some Bubbles
One of the most memorable gifts my mother-in-law ever gave me was a bottle of bubbles. Not a bottle of bubble bath ― we’re talking bubbles with the plastic wand included. I was in my 20s, newly married and definitely taking myself way too seriously. Being a wise woman, she told me she gave me the bubbles so that I could sit on the back porch with my dog and blow them if I was feeling sad. I took her advice. It’s hard not to have fun while you’re blowing bubbles.
Take my mother-in-law’s advice and keep a bottle of bubbles anywhere you experience stress. If your commute is regularly plagued with traffic jams, where you’re sitting for several minutes at a time in a line of cars, keep some bubbles in your glove box and blow them out the window while you’re waiting. If you have a high-stress job, keep a bottle in your desk so you can blow away your worries as you leave for lunch. I know it sounds silly, but that’s kind of the point.
Have More Fun
Nanci Bergman is an expert on the fun. In fact, she wrote a book called, “Prioritize Fun: A Manifesto for Those Who Want to Enjoy Life, Not Endure it.” In it, Bergman wrote, “By prioritizing fun as much as you prioritize all of the other important garbage in your life, you’ll finally find the happiness you crave.”
Bergman, N. (2019). Prioritize fun: A manifesto for those who want to enjoy life, not endure it. USA: Self-published.
Posen, D. (2013). Is work killing you? A doctor’s prescription for treating workplace stress. Ontario: House of Anasazi.
Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456