Being a naturopath and spending the last 10 years working with stressed women I have always focussed on nutrition and diet changes as the primary solution to treating stress and ill-health. I have always believed that key to being healthy is eating well and having healthy gut function. This has been the basis of my training and what I have done successfully with my clients over the years. My clients have had great results with this approach but now I am thinking that maybe there is a step that has been missing from my treatment programs.
I recently watched a TedX video by Charlie Hoehn (click here to watch) in which he described searching for answers for his anxiety and depression. He had tried everything that he could from conventional medicine to alternative options and everything in between (both legal and illegal). Charlie described his life looking really successful from the outside and most people would have thought that he should have been happy but he still found himself feeling ‘empty’.
So what was the missing piece, the ultimate answer to Charlie’s problems? It was play. Simple playing the same way that he had when he was a child – throwing a ball, running around, just play.
I watched this video and thought this is exactly why I created the Entrepreneur’s Playdate events I wanted female entrepreneurs to experience play and connection. To be honest I wanted to play and I wanted other women to play with, so there was a totally selfish reason behind creating the Entrepreneur’s Playdate events.
After sharing the video to my facebook group, I went about my day not thinking too much more about the video and its message. Yesterday morning I woke up and for some reason the video was in my mind and then I had a thought – everything that I have been doing has been wrong!!! Focussing on nutrition and gut health is not the first step to healing and reducing stress. This made me stop and think. Remember I have written a book on work life balance and I am in the middle of writing my next book on stress, I speak on stress and I in the work with clients who are stressed. This is what I do and I have always started with nutrition, diet and gut health but maybe there is something that needs to come before this step.
I started to think what if I started with play? What if all I prescribe to my clients when they start working with me is play? Would everyone think I was crazy? Probably. They are looking for a pill or something more science based, not play.
Don’t get me wrong I still think that nutrition and diet are extremely important in reducing stress and being healthy but now I am thinking that play is a great first step. When we play, we relax and our stress fight and flight hormones automatically switch off. With these hormones switched off we are able to digest our food better, generally when you are relaxed you are less likely to grab for the quick energy boost of coffee and sugar, you will sleep better. There are so many more lovely effects that come from playing.
Watch children or animals play, they don’t have lots of thoughts running around in their heads about not being good enough, they just have fun without caring or thinking about much else. Even if you are tired you always find energy to play. Playing with other people gives you something in common, I am sure you have seen lots of videos of children including other less abled children in their play because play gives us a sense of equality. Everyone can play. It’s not about ability, it’s about fun.
From now on I am going to include play as one of the first things that I prescribe when I am working with a client. I think that play will help my clients get better results, faster and that’s always a good thing. In the meantime I am going to include regular play in my life, who wants to join me? Let me know in the comments below who you can include more play in your life.
If you want to join in the fun and play with me why not come along to the next Entrepreneur’s Playdate event, click here to find out more.