Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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The Healing Value of Fun

by David Spero, RN

Getting physical. Did you ever see a sporting event where sections of the crowd stopped watching the game to bat a beach ball around in the bleachers? Physical activities are very engaging, and you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy them. Flying a kite, throwing darts, or tossing a balloon up and down are simple and easy ways to enjoy yourself. With a partner or group, there’s Frisbee, table tennis, shuffleboard, and a thousand others. These activities may be even more fun if you don’t keep score.

Mind games. Jigsaw or crossword puzzles can keep you busy for days, and they help keep your mind active and strong. Singing, drawing, playing a musical instrument, or making objects out of clay or Play-Doh exercise your creativity and can give you a sense of fulfillment. Writing can be stimulating for some. (For example, I’m having a lot of fun writing this right now.) Start a journal, write a letter, or try writing a funny sketch about yourself.

Funny stuff. A lot of people get paid to make us laugh, so why not take advantage of it? Read the comics or a joke book, watch a live comedy show, a funny video, or a TV sitcom that makes you laugh. Most of the scientific studies on the benefits of humor are based on this kind of passive entertainment, and it’s an easy way to get your daily dose of laughter.

Entertain your inner child. Think back to your childhood and all of the games and activities you used to adore but no longer do. Some of these, like jumping on the bed, you probably gave up for good reason. But other activities, like miniature golf or swinging, may still bring you pleasure and remind you of happy times and how good it feels to play. How about buying a couple of cheap water pistols, or having a pillow fight?

Fun is a state of mind that gets easier with practice. It won’t happen all at once, but after a while, you may be able to make games out of activities that now seem like work. Maybe you’ll view a frosty window as a blank canvas for art, the way you did as a child. Or you might make musical instruments out of empty bottles and coffee cans. Life might gradually start to seem less like work and more like pleasure. And that change will make living well and managing diabetes easier.

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