3 Reasons You Should Be Having as Much Fun as Possible Research suggests the best way to navigate a pandemic, work, family stress, and social unrest is to have as much fun as you possibly can. It may sound counterintuitive or even selfish, but not doing so can be detrimental to your health and mental well-being. Recreational deprivation is linked to criminality, obesity, lack of creativity, anxiety, and depression. Here we’ll explore three reasons you should have as much fun as possible. Play Teaches People to Cope Without Violence Stuart Brown is the founder and president of the U.S. National Institute for Play and author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (2009). As a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in the 1960s, his study of 26 young male murderers helped him identify the vital importance of play in children and adults’ lives. Brown and his colleagues found that a history of physical abuse and play deprivation played a significant role in these young men’s lives. His further studies revealed regular play was virtually absent throughout the lives of highly violent, antisocial men, regardless of demographic. They concluded the subjects would have been better able to cope with life’s vicissitudes without recourse to violence had they been allowed to play with other children growing up. On the flip side, highly successful and creative people demonstrated a history of regular social play—a vital part of healthy development. Children learn social competency, curiosity, resilience, and emotional intelligence through play experiences throughout their lives. Social Fun Mitigates Anxiety and Depression Socializing and participating in physical activities are healthier coping strategies to manage depression or anxiety than drinking alcohol or dwelling on negative feelings. Exercise and physical activity can also give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Dancing, team sports, or working out with a friend can all release feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids), and other natural brain chemicals that can elevate your sense of well-being. Finding creative ways to take your mind off worries is paramount to ending the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. Spending time laughing with friends new and old can lighten any mood, whether in person or through technology. Playing Games is Good for Your Brain In addition to regular physical exercise and a healthy diet, researchers have found fun activities can help reduce the risk of future cognitive decline. Participating in activities that stimulate the mind, such as reading, writing, and playing games, can improve brain health. Did you know exercising your brain can help prevent beta-amyloid deposits from developing? These harmful proteins are common in those who develop Alzheimer’s disease. When you stimulate your brain, you also trigger sensory responses that help you stay engaged and pay attention. This response is yet another way playfulness and being engaged with others can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some brain-stimulating activities you can incorporate into daily life to promote long-term brain health. Virtual game nights Online video games Book clubs Write poetry or short stories Handwrite cards and letters to people you love Take a pottery class Learn how to sew Adult coloring books Painting and drawing Holiday craft projects Build something Take a class Learn a new language Listen to or play music Dance Visit a museum Try new recipes Learn a new word each day Talk to family and friends As you can see, there is no shortage of stimulating and engaging activities to incorporate into your life. Not only can it help strengthen relationship bonds, but it can also promote your physical and mental well-being. The holidays are a fun time to connect with new and old acquaintances, pick up a new hobby, or take some time for self-care and reflection. Set yourself up for your most creative and productive year yet by making fun a top priority.