In today’s fast-paced world, it’s all too easy to focus our attention on working, accumulating things and just surviving from day to day. When this happens, we are simply going through the motions of life while missing out on living it to the full. This is when we need to change direction and reengage with our life by injecting some fun. The benefits of fun include:

Reduced stress levels
As adults, we spend a lot of time focusing on serious things that are both unenjoyable and stress-inducing. But when we’re having fun, our bodies produce hormones which reduce stress and anxiety and make us feel good about ourselves. These ‘feel good’ hormones are critical to a healthy mind and body. For which reason, it’s important that we make time for enjoyable activities. And it doesn’t matter what you choose, so long as you’re having fun, because fun is a central component of happiness.

Positive patterns
Much like healthy eating, the benefits of having fun increase when kept up over time. Regularly engaging in activities which you enjoy, and spending time with people who make you happy, results in consistently lower stress levels, more positive feelings, and better-coping abilities.

Improved resilience
Some stress is inevitable, and it’s impractical to spend all our time having fun. But making time for the things you enjoy can redress the balance when stressful or negative situations do arise. Stress-free activities make us calmer overall, meaning that when difficulties come along, we can use our reserves of calm to ease them.

Improved concentration and memory
When stress is bothering us, we find it difficult to focus and are inclined to forget things. The reduced cortisol and increased serotonin levels associated with having fun will, however, help to keep your mind alert by reducing stress and increasing your mental energy.

Better relationships with others
Having fun with others also has a positive effect on our levels of trust and communication. Taking part in fun activities gives us opportunities to connect with others, and when we laugh together it helps to cement our sense of shared values and togetherness. Letting go of our inhibitions in this way can make us appear vulnerable, but it also makes us seem more friendly and approachable, so it helps us forge connections and bonds with others.
How fun improves work/life balance
According to the proverb, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Yet for many of us, work and other responsibilities consume a large proportion of our time. Balancing work, family and other responsibilities can make us feel stressed and depressed simply because we don’t factor in any time for ourselves.

While overwork isn’t good for our wellbeing, it’s not always the ratio of work to leisure that’s important, but rather the quality of your free time. Spend your entire weekend tidying, cleaning or constantly checking your work emails, and you’re likely to feel stressed and exhausted. But factor in time for fun, and you’ll feel more positive, re-energised and ready to cope with the working week. ‘Me time’ isn’t selfish, it’s essential to achieving a positive work-life balance.

And it’s not only at weekends that you can factor in fun. In today’s workplace, most employers understand the importance of good mental health and are actively seeking to enhance their employees’ wellbeing. So, take advantage of whatever’s on offer and inject a little fun into your working week too. If your workplace is less enlightened, try taking in cakes on Fridays, starting an after-work club, or simply enjoying a joke with your colleagues from time to time. Anything that makes you look forward to going to work is a great way to achieve a better work/life balance.
Ways to bring more fun into your life
Look for laughter
Watch a funny film or TV programme to get a good dose of laughter in your life, because laughter usually means you’re having fun. Or share a funny YouTube video with others.

Be willing to try something new
Actively seek new, fun activities that you’ve never tried before, no matter how small. And don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. If you’ve always fancied playing a musical instrument, or learning Spanish, find a class and give it a go.

Be spontaneous
Fun doesn’t necessarily have to be pre-planned. Accept invitations to spur-of-the-moment fun things or last-minute parties. You never know how much fun you may be missing out on if you always say no.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t respect yourself, but it does mean accepting yourself as you are. People who can laugh at themselves when things don’t go quite as planned tend to be more optimistic, cheerful and resilient. And being yourself will give you opportunities for play, exploration and change. Learn to loosen up, go easy on yourself and look for humour in situations that are beyond your control. Do what you enjoy without worrying about what others think. Above all, connect with your life, live in the moment, and have fun.