Power of play: everyday activities to help you leave work stress behind

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New experiences come naturally when you’re travelling – whether you’re cruising through Morocco in a vintage sidecar or working up a sweat in Mexico City courtesy of an ancient and steamy temazcal ritual

But adventure shouldn’t be confined to an exotic location or rare time off – daily life deserves an uplift, too. In fact, the more you can kindle your everyday with a frisson of the great unknown, the less stressful work and other pressures become. 

In our structured lives, it’s so freeing to take off and wander

By trying different activities in your evenings or weekends, or setting aside that lunch hour to do something meaningful, you develop an intrepid mindset, which in turn, can help you live in the moment and switch off from the constant chatter of your never-ending “To Do’s”. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started with a side line of unique and playful micro adventures to add a holiday-like highlight to your daily life. 

Give kickboxing a whirl

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Kickboxing provides a fantastic all-body workout (similar to the art of sumo on Flash Pack’s Japan trip) – and with gyms and rings popping up all around Britain, it’s easy enough to find a club in your nearest town or city. The real appeal of this time-honoured combat sport is that it draws you into the here and now. You’ll be so focused on the ritual of different kinds of kicks and boxing punches, all other hassles of the day will melt right away. 

“Like most sporting pursuits, kickboxing releases happy hormone endorphins, but the act of striking pads can also be a great way to relieve the build up of stress and frustration,” says world title holder Alex Lawson, who trains clients at KXU gym and Equinox gym. “It has a primal effect on people, allowing them to generate focus as they concentrate fully on techniques and combinations.

“Most gyms teach the sport without the need for sparring now, which has opened the appeal of kickboxing out to a new generation of people,” he adds. 

Try a friendship app

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Nearly half of Brits feel lonely sometimes or often in the UK, in a trend that is echoed worldwide, including the States (where the figures say 46% of Americans suffer “serious” loneliness). But making new friends is an elixir, bringing fresh energy to ward against the isolation of modern life – particularly in cities

Olivia June, founder of the Hey! VINA friends app, says there’s no shame in using a service to meet new people in a platonic sense; just as you would with dating.

We’ve all faced many moments in our lives where we’ve wanted to make a new friend

“In adulthood, many of us are balancing full-time jobs, partners and family, finding the time to exercise and so on,” Olivia tells Flash Pack. “And since many of us are under the impression that making new friends should be ‘easy,’ people can feel embarrassed or ashamed when it’s not.”

“We’ve all faced many moments in our lives where we’ve wanted to make a new friend and simply didn’t have the time, tools or confidence to make it happen,” she adds. Dipping your toe in the waters of a friendship service will stretch your comfort zone, and fill your spare time with new, enriching perspectives. BumbleBFF, MeetUp are Skout are other communities to try out on this quest. 

Tap into the power of play

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As children, fun and purposeless play came easily. We loved to fool around and be silly, just for the sake of it. Yet as adults, we somehow lose the knack. Our release might come from weekend football or other forms of competitive sport – but pure, directionless play? Not so much. Author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD has written a book about play and compares it to oxygen. That is, it’s a life-giving and vital force that invigorates the soul; but we don’t really notice it until it’s not there.

You can play by doing anything from talking to your dog to taking a “play history” (remembering what you liked to play at when you were a child, and working to recreate an element of that in adult life). It may also be worth exploring local classes and activities with a playful edge, such as zip-lining, circus school or Brazilian samba drumming. Anything to fire up your sense of child-like joy within. 

Get lost in your own city

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Getting lost in your own backyard is not simply an adage for Instagram memes; it’s an ideal you can conjure up whenever you damn well feel like. In our structured, carefully diarised lives, there’s huge freedom to be had in taking a few hours off to wander. 

Where to go? Follow your gut rather than Google Maps. As you take off in whatever direction you fancy, there could be any number of marvels that speak to you along the way. Street art, community cafés, that swimming lake you had no idea existed… This is all about exploring on a whim – just as you might do when travelling abroad in a new city, but on a scaled-down level. 

Take matters into your own hands. Find something that excites you, then do it

“Sometimes there is so much on, so many things and people to deal with, that life just feels like an uphill battle to keep other people happy and bills paid,” says adventurer Ed Stafford. But, he adds, “for me, the saying, ‘life is an adventure’ is something we should work towards.

“Take matters into your own hands and find something that excites you. Then do it,” he urges. “That might be anything from running a 10k race to quitting work and travelling round the world. The scale is irrelevant as long as it stirs butterflies in your stomach when you think about it.”

Taking an unscheduled day of play could be exactly the catalyst needed to begin with this mission; your route into a life less ordinary. 

Find out more about Flash Pack adventures right here

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

Images: Flash Pack

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