Why fun is fundamental to your health and happiness

Why fun is fundamental to your health and happiness

Why fun is fundamental to your health and happiness

Nia - Now I Am - positive affirmations with Sophie Marsh
Nia with Sophie Marsh dance for health

“Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it… written in the language of joy.”
~ Martha Beck

When was the last time you felt light-hearted, connected, and alive with joy?  What were you doing?  Who were you with?

Maybe you’ve been crazy busy… or stuck in a loop of everyday life… or weighed down by difficult circumstances… or overwhelmed by change and uncertainty. There are serious, sad, and confronting things happening in the world around us, contributing to general stress and an epidemic of mental health issues. In these tough times, fun may seems frivolous.

But what if fun was the secret to health and well-being?

Recently I came across a book “The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again” by science journalist Catherine Price. (She also does a great TED Talk.) She says having fun is a like a health intervention that can bring you back to life.

Catherine explains there’s a big difference between what she calls “fake fun” and “true fun”. Fake fun gives a quick fix of pleasure – like fast-food, binge-watching Netflix, scrolling socials or a few wines – it ultimately leaves you feeling numb and unsatisfied.

By contrast, true fun is a relaxed and open state that makes you feel nourished and refreshed.  Through her own research and experience, Catherine defines true fun as a congruence of three psychological states – playfulness, connection, and flow.

  • Playfulness means being spontaneous, light-hearted, and doing something just for the pleasure of it, without striving for a goal or outcome.
  • Connection means having a special shared experience with someone (or something) else. Meaningful relationships and human connection are vital for our physical and mental health.
  • Flow state is a feeling of effortless attention where you’re so fully immersed in an activity that you lose track of time. Your skills meet the challenge, and you feel deeply satisfied.

How to fill your life with more playfulness, connection and flow.

  1. Increase playfulness by embracing your inner 5-year-old and giving yourself permission to be more spontaneous, expressive, and free of judgment.
  2. Increase connection by interacting more with others in real life… face to face, soul to soul, human to human. Notice how our differences disappear when we connect through fun.
  3. Reduce distractions to increase flow. Replace mindless screen time with more purposeful presence, doing what you love.
  4. Commit to daily rituals and weekly activities that nourish your body, engage your mind, and liberate your spirit.

Make fun a priority… 

Scan your daily life and make 2 lists. Write down

  1. activities (or people) that take up time and result in feeling empty or drained.
  2. activities (or people) that help you get into a state of playful, connected flow and leave you feeling energised and alive.

Set your intention to invest less time on #1 and more on #2. Sounds easy, but think about how much time you spend on your phone. Taking action on this can be a powerful habit breaker.

When you feel like you’re getting your joy back, you’ll know you’ve got the balance right for you! Research affirms you are more resilient, creative, persistent, present, and productive when you are engaged in pursuits that bring us maximum fun.

Want more fun… do more Nia!

Nia is a serious practice that reminds you not to take yourself too seriously! Every Nia experience offers opportunities for playfulness, connection, and flow. With contagious joy and community at its heart, practising (and sharing) Nia brings you meaningful connection, a sense of purpose, and sustainable health and wellbeing… the FUNdamentals of feeling alive!

If you want more joy in your life, why not (re)commit to coming regularly to my online or in-person Nia classes or immerse yourself in a week of fun and self discovery with the Nia White Belt?

“Fun is important. Fun is what keeps you ageless.” ~ Dr Christiane Northrup

MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE – PLAYFUL NIA PRACTICE

First, tune in to your body and notice any places that feel heavy or tight.  Take this 3 minute dance break with me and then afterwards, notice what feels better and give gratitude for that. Thank you body!

Sophie Marsh © 2022 • Web Design Seedhead

How body awareness can change your mind and boost your wellbeing

How body awareness can change your mind and boost your wellbeing

How body awareness can change your mind and boost your wellbeing

Nia - Now I Am - positive affirmations with Sophie Marsh
Nia with Sophie Marsh dance for health

“In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.” ~ Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score

Changing your body changes your mind!

For centuries we were programmed to live in our heads. The mind was seen as the fount of knowledge and rational thought, separate from the body, which was considered less significant or even reviled. Now anthropologists, philosophers, neuroscientists and cognitive scientists affirm that every cell and organ has its own intelligence and that the body plays an integral role in thinking and decision making.

The gut-brain connection is a burgeoning field of mind-body research. Did you know, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and gastrointestinal activity? And hormones have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. (Just ask any teenager or menopausal woman!) Yet in education, health and business sectors, the power of the body to affect the mind is still being under-utilised.

How can you unwind stress and fear patterns that keep you feeling stuck or anxious?

Google “best ways to manage stress, fear, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, trauma, distraction, or dementia.” The most recent answers will most likely include “pay attention to what you feel in your body and where you feel it, use conscious breathing techniques, and prioritise regular exercise”, as well as intermittent fasting a diet of unprocessed food, quality sleep, social connection, and balancing your hormones (I take Happy Hormones from HHY).

This evidence-based holistic approach aligns with what we teach in the Nia White Belt – how to access your body’s natural intelligence and use mindfulness and movement to feel better.  N.I.A = Neuromuscular Integrative Action!

  • Begin with developing the ability to notice subtle body sensations – listen to them, then respond in a way that respects your body’s needs. In Nia we call this body literacy. Notice and name the little things that make you feel good inside and out, throughout your day.
  • Commit to a daily practice that shifts your awareness deeper into your body and reconnects you with your inherent vibrancy and vitality – practices like Nia, 5Stages, conscious breathwork, a mindful walk, or a body scan meditation.
  • Make moving your body for your health and wellbeing a priority. It sounds simple (and it is once you get started), but the latest stats show that 50-75 percent of middle-aged women are insufficiently active. Put it on your schedule to make it real. Like most things, the more you do it, the easier it gets. 

A MIND-BODY EXERCISE

Try it out… Tell yourself a contracted thought like “I’m hopeless”, “It’s never going to work out”, “I shouldn’t… couldn’t… can’t…” and notice what happens in your body. Let your body response be exaggerated. For example, if your shoulders feel heavy, let them really fold in. Notice any tension, breath-holding, or dense energy. 

Now… lift your heart and open your posture. You might organically take a deep breath or two. Keep shifting until you take on a more powerful, expanded stance… now make it even bigger. Open your eyes, and with softness, look around and let the light in. What has happened to your thoughts?

NOW I AM…

Nia’s creator Debbie Rosas says that when you get stuck in the thinking mind you block your life-force and creativity. This is your ego coming from control and fear, and it shows up in your body as tightness. Living in your head depletes your energy, steals your joy, and restricts your potential and growth.

As you tap into your body intelligence, it shifts your mind in a positive direction – away from negative thoughts and towards creative connection and authentic expression. You learn to trust your intuition and respond from your sacred truth. Distractions and things you can’t control lose their power, freeing you to experience more joy and your natural state of being – love.

In any given moment you can decide… what do I want to embody? N.I.A = Now I Am…

Healing Affirmation – Going Beyond the Limitations of Fear

“Today I will let go of all fear. I realise that fear comes from my self image and not my Self. My ego is an image that I have created. By letting go of my ego I will embrace the truth inside me, which is fearless.

EGO = Edging God Out. Whenever my ego overshadows my spirit, it creates tightness in my body. I will witness the sensation of fear by feeling it, and then I will take the courageous step to do the very thing I fear. I will not fight my ego, I will witness it. This is the highest form of human intelligence – to observe yourself without judgment. Today I will observe my fear and my witnessing of it will transform it into love.” ~ Deepak Chopra

MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE – NIA DANCE BREAK

First, tune in to your body and notice any places that feel heavy or tight.  Take this 3.5 minute dance break with me and then afterwards, notice what feels better and give gratitude for that. Thank you body!

Sophie Marsh © 2022 • Web Design Seedhead