Do You Play?
Slow down and be a catalyst for healthy change

Are you a daily list maker? You know the list I'm talking about—pay utilities, pick up suit, meet with boss, take kids to soccer, drop dog at vet. All good and necessary tasks, but where are you on the list? Have you penciled in your time for play and rest? I know what you're thinking. You have no time for play, too much to do, no possibility for rest. What would you do if your doctor prescribed "let go" time just for you, for your health and well-being?

The stress of overdoing and under-"you"-ing is a primary cause for many diseases and chronic conditions. With the increasing prevalence of E-mail, pagers, cell phones and portable computers, we may feel that we can't get away and we're forever "on call." Remember how all these techno- wonders were introduced to encourage simplicity and efficiency? What happened? We've forgotten about the off switch.

Indulge daily in 15 seconds of full belly laughter. Begin slowly to sing "ha." Gradually build up speed and volume until you arrive at truly explosive "ha's." Continue. Best done with a group. The ancient Greeks, creators of the ultimate amateur games, the Olympics, believed that rest and play were a vital part of reaching one's full potential. They valued them so highly because they knew they were necessary for sustaining balanced effectiveness and achieving peak performance. It is a physiological fact that our bodies are designed to produce for a period of time and then rest. Our minds think creatively to solve problems, then need to relax and recover.

Let us put forth a movement toward greater balance—much more laughter, ample naps and ecstatic play. We can allow ourselves to relax and encourage play by trying out any or all of the following measures.

  • Remove your watch for a day or more.
  • Experiment with aromatherapy and essential oils.
  • Receive a massage or facial.
  • Color something and hang it on your refrigerator with your name on it.
  • Take an art class.
  • Pray and meditate.
  • Walk barefoot—everywhere.
  • Be totally honest with yourself and with everyone.
  • Volunteer to read for the children or the elderly.
  • Go on a media fast—avoid newspapers, radio and television for a day or longer.
  • Cook with new culinary herbs.

I have learned the truth of the aphorism "One high tide raises all ships." Moving slower, laughing louder, and loving deeper can be contagious. You may become a catalyst for great good all around you. Believe that you are ready for something wonderful to happen. Positive thought can inspire the exact opposite of a catastrophe. Let's call for a beneficial upheaval, a movement of radical change for the good. Are you game?

"Be Well" is written by James Rouse, ND, a naturopathic physician practicing in Denver, Colorado. He is the creator of Optimum Wellness and<,I> The Fit Kitchen, seen weekly on NBC's KUSA television news. For information or questions for Dr. James, log on to