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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: We all need to play outside more

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When I was little, I used to throw my backpack inside as soon as I got home from school and run outside to play. Playing meant building fairy houses, jumping on my neighbor’s trampoline and practicing tricks, climbing trees and looking down at my street from above and riding my scooter as fast as I could. When it grew dark, I would come inside hungry and exhausted, and my mom would probably be scolding me for not wearing shoes. My nails would be dark brown with dirt, my hair would be tangled and I would be sweaty. But nothing felt better than spending time outside, just me and my imagination and maybe some neighborhood friends. 

Once I was in high school, I spent embarrassingly little time outdoors. All my commutes were in cars or buses, and I was almost always either in my school building, at the pool for swim practice or in my house. Now that I am in college and have access to a rich and diverse, walkable campus, I am excited to reclaim my relationship with going outside and the idea of playing. 

As the weather warms up and the blossoms come out, I undeniably have spring fever. The sun shining and the birds chirping makes me want nothing more than to soak up the warmth and breeze outside instead of being cooped up in my roughly 200-square-foot dorm room.  

[Related: COLUMN: On the clock: Will embracing your soft feminine side help you find your true love?]

About 5% of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression associated with the change in weather and sunlight during the winter months. Even for those who do not deal with SAD, many of us feel less motivated, joyful and energized when it is cold and dark outside. But with warmer weather coming in, it is the perfect time to rekindle the magic of your childhood and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.  

Make a special playlist just for going outside. Find an old blanket or sheet to spread on the grass and invite your friends to have a picnic on the lawn or do homework outside. Hang up a hammock by Campus River and read a book, or debrief your week with friends. Call someone you love on a walk through campus or one of Bloomington’s beautiful neighborhoods. Give yourself the time and grace to take a break from homework, studying and stress. 

Think back to the times you played outside everyday as a child, with little care for anything else — rolling down grassy hills without thinking about how you would make it back up.  

In a world where we are often overcome with work, anxieties and simply the weight of the events going on around us, the least we can do to honor ourselves is to appreciate the beauty the world has to offer and have a little fun while doing so.  

[Related: COLUMN: On the clock: The misogyny that pervades parasocial relationships]

To me, playing means letting go, feeling your feelings, connecting with others or maybe just being in your own head. Maybe for you, playing outside means knitting on the porch. Maybe it means a game of basketball with your friends. Maybe it means a round of golf on a sunny day. Maybe it means tossing a ball on the lawn with some people you just met. Whatever playing outside represents to you, as the weather grows warmer, the trees regrow their leaves and the flowers bloom, let’s all come more alive too and play outside. 

Leila Faraday (she/her) is a freshman studying policy analysis. She is jealous of the campus squirrels who get to spend all day playing outside. 

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