Annie was only 12, but she already felt burnt out.  Every morning she woke up at 6 am so that she could catch the bus at 6:45. She rarely had time for breakfast.  She had gone to bed at 10 pm the night before because her homework was more than usual.  She thought of the day ahead, class after class.  She also had three exams to take that day.  She hadn’t had time to see her friends in weeks.  She felt brain fog from fatigue and wondered how she would find the energy to make it through the day.

Maggie has been overwhelmed at work and home.  Her company has been losing money since the Coronavirus. Her employees couldn’t bring in an income because people left the country or were too nervous about setting up meetings.  She felt like it was all on her to save the company.  On top of all of that, her mother had just passed away.  She felt overwhelmed with grief and stress.  When she thought of taking a day off or relaxing, she would get anxious.  She felt too guilty to take care of herself.

Importance of Play

Adults and children both need play.  For children, play is how they release stress, learn how to negotiate, innovate and problem solve.  When children play with other children, they also learn social and communication skills.  As the world becomes more competitive and stressful, it’s a mistake to think that play needs to take a back seat to productivity.  When stress levels increase, play is even more important to keep motivation and focus.

Adults also need to play.  Going to work, coming home to household chores and taking care of the children can be stressful if there isn’t any downtime.  Without downtime, fatigue and exhaustion set in.

Here are some ideas to help you play, even when you are busy:

1. Humour

How can you use humour to de-stress? Can you watch something funny?  Can you respect your feelings and still take yourself less seriously?  If you have kids, how can you all laugh together?  Is there a fun board game you can play?

2. Don’t be afraid to get dirty

Children love to get dirty with paint, dirt, food etc. Can you set up a place in your house for you and your kids to paint together?  Can you play outside together?  What about having a fun meal together? Nature and creating can be relaxing.

3. Act like a kid again

If you have children, play with them on their level.  Let them lead the play.  Step into their world and let them be the boss.  Enjoy the time off.  If you don’t have kids, allow yourself to act like one.  Sleep in, stay in your comfortable clothes, watch cartoons, and stay present.  Small children live in the moment.  They enjoy the toy or their imaginary play world and forget about anything else around them.

4. Express your feelings through play

Emotions can be felt in our body. Small children are great at expressing themselves with their bodies; they jump and dance when excited.  Turn on some music and dance it off, or get some playdough and express with your hands.  What other ways can you think of to express physically?

5. Set time aside to play or relax every day

People often say they are too busy to decompress, adding more stress and tension in the mind and body. Allow your children to play daily after homework or chores.  As an adult, allow yourself time to decompress by allowing yourself to relax without guilt.


If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please contact me to set up an online session via email

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.