We are in the midst of “Spooky Season,” and I am slightly obsessed.
Well let me tell you, it’s not the horror and the gore. In fact, I chaperoned a group of 14 year-olds last year to see a horror flick; I came prepared with ear plugs to deafen the screams, and looked down for roughly 25% of the movie in order to not sear terrifying scenes into my brain cells in the form of nightmares for the next two weeks. And you know what, it worked. Success!
So as you can see, my love of Spooky Season has everything to do with something other than the “spook.” I see it more as “Spunky Season” for adults.
What do I mean?
For any of you who have seen the movie “Mean Girls,” there was a scene that took place on Halloween where Cady, the main character, stated, “In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year where girls can dress like sluts and no one can say anything about it.” Although there is truth here, it goes deeper than that.
Spooky Season is the one time a year adults can act playful and creative like kids, and no one can say anything about it. And even more so, it’s the one time of year it’s actually encouraged.
Does that mean adults aren’t encouraged to be playful and creative the rest of the year? Sadly, that’s the reality I’m often witnessing. And why it’s sad is because play, creativity, and fun shouldn’t be priorities that are siloed into childhood and the teen years.
As a nurse practitioner gone consultant, I often prescribe people an “addition of experiences that serve them” or “take away experiences that do not.” No matter who you are, what age you are, or where you live or work, adults need play and creativity, and lots of it.
There’s benefit beyond how good it feels. The body responds in a way of, “Oooo I likey,” to that kind of activity on the cellular level. Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, lower stress, and stimulate creativity by improving growth of the prefrontal cortex. Anything that grows your brain is a no-brainer (ha ha). But in addition to that, creative play has also been shown to help improve relationships, which is great for teams and organizations.
So why don’t we play more? I can tell you that a lot of it has to do with our culture and environment. Work and stress have become the most important priorities, and when that runs the show, it drains from our banks of time and energy.
We’ve been conditioned to think about how to produce, go non-stop, and then judge what isn’t that. That creates some major roadblocks in our minds on letting ourselves relax into creative play.
And that is what I love about Spooky Season… it takes the roadblocks out. People think about it, feel like it, and don’t judge an adult man for dressing like the same Batman he dressed up as at age 5 (and loving every minute of it).
What would it look like and feel like if we intentionally fostered cultures that allow creative play to be part of day to day life? All I know is that I am here for it.
Allow the “spunk” of Spooky Season to live on beyond this one time of year, and see what happens.