On the importance of play, working for happiness, and active rest weeks

Happy Monday,

How often do you carve out time for play?

Many of us goal driven-types prioritize hard work (and sometimes even rest), but we don’t do the same for play and having fun.

While play may feel like a non-necessity, it’s actually essential for our well-being. Play helps take our minds off of all that might be wrong with our lives and our world. It helps us feel less stressed. It refreshes and recharges us. It renews our optimism and helps us be more hopeful for the future.

Play also changes our perspective, helping to boost our imagination and spark creativity. It helps us be more present. It can make us happier, both temporarily and long term. It can even improve our health.

You don’t need to spend a long time playing to reap the benefits, either. When I don’t have much time, even just ten minutes of shooting baskets or playing keep-away with my dog helps lift my mood. Reading fiction also helps. To me, reading feels like play for the mind.

So try and carve out a little time each day for something fun, whether this means playing a game of tennis with a friend, dancing to your favorite song, or goofing around in the waves at the beach.

“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” — Brian Sutton-Smith

What I’m reading —

Don’t Wish For Happiness. Work For it. / Arthur C. Brooks / The Atlantic

Want to be happier? Wishing for greater happiness is not enough. Putting a plan in place, then putting in effort is what will bring about change, and ultimately, more happiness in your life.

“Happiness requires effort, not just desire. Focusing on your dissatisfaction and wishing things were different in your life is a recipe for unhappiness if you don’t take action to put yourself on a better path.”

What I’m listening to—

The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eger

Dr. Edith Eger is a psychologist and a Holocaust survivor. This book weaves together her own tale of surviving the Holocaust along with her patients in different phases of healing. The message is clear: people can choose to escape the prisons of their minds and find joy and freedom, no matter the circumstances.

The audiobook version has a forward read by the author herself.

A quote that inspires me —

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” — Marcus Aurelius

What I’m training —

(Attempting) an active rest week.

Most smart athletes take at least a week or two off of serious training a few times a year to allow their body and mind to rest and recover more than the usual one or two days off a week. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never been great at this — in my ideal world, I’d go hard all of the time and make constant progress. Logically, I know that’s not possible. So last week I did my best to step back my training a bit and not go as hard as usual. I still trained, but was been more focused on technique and fun activities (swimming, biking, pickleball) than all-out workouts.

Three new workouts —

Equipment-Free Full Body Blaster (12 minute, equipment-free)

16-Minute Kettlebell Core HIIT Workout (16 minute, kettlebell, medicine ball)

300 Rep Speed Round Challenge Workout (Time challenge, equipment-free)

And here’s a heavy bag workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to playing more,

– Krista Stryker

PS. Always wanted to be able to do a freestanding handstand? Check out this tutorial I posted on TikTok for tips on how to nail your wall handstand first.


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