Adulthood is plagued with stress, especially as we prioritise work over everything, trying to juggle multiple responsibilities and leaving no time for relaxation. Joy is an underrated aspect of the human experience; thus, making time for fun activities that give you a sense of playfulness is important. Playful activities are a form of self-care that nurture your inner child. It can inspire great creativity and expand your problem-solving ability.
What is Inner Child Healing?
Someone's inner child refers to the subconscious mind rather than a childlike personality. This part of your mind may hold suppressed memories or emotions - often regarding negative experiences or moments when your younger self felt unloved, unsafe or unseen. If someone grew up with an unsupportive caregiver or didn't have their needs met, they may experience triggers, stress responses and self-protective methods originating from childhood trauma.
For instance, if you have a significant reaction when someone you love forgets to do something for you, this may trigger inner child insecurities as you feel unseen. Although the person had no intention to upset you, your reaction isn't much about them but a fear of rejection that you may have experienced as a child. Your inner child acts out as a measure to protect itself.
Healing the inner child refers to understanding what needs went unmet for your younger self and how those manifest in your life today. For instance, you might notice you feel particularly triggered when a situation makes you feel forgotten, unloved or unsafe. Healing the inner child usually involves therapy, journaling and meditation to reveal repressed memories and emotions. While this process can be challenging, it will help you discover what made you feel unsafe. By identifying these, you can work to soothe the inner child in you and make yourself feel safe in the same way the younger version of you needed.
Play is something we associate with children, so although it can seem silly to do things that aren't working or adult activities, it can go far to nurturing your mental health, improving problem-solving and enhancing your creativity. Injecting joy into your life and connecting with your inner child can help soothe some of these wounds, but it's best to do inner child healing with a professional who can support your journey. Not only can playful activities boost your mood and creativity, but they may also validate your inner child and the things you enjoy.
Alongside play, some other ways to connect with and soothe the inner child include:
- Repeating affirmations like "I love you", "I'm sorry we experienced that" and "We are safe now" - especially when you feel triggered by a situation.
- Journaling with specific inner child prompts to uncover your triggers and core issues.
- Establish self-trust and safety through ongoing support, reparenting the inner child and activities to soothe the nervous system.
12 Playful Activities to Promote Creativity
Play is one way to foster connection with your inner child, which can go far for establishing a safe space for you. The feeling of safety and love is often linked with the release of oxytocin, a hormone. By engaging in playful activities, nurturing yourself with hugs and safe activities, you can increase the release of this hormone and improve overall well-being.
The idea of play is different for everyone, so it's essential to find what sparks joy for you. You may also want to consider what activities you did as a child and try to do more of these as an adult. This is a great method to break up the seriousness of adulthood that we impose upon ourselves, give ourselves a chance to let loose and have genuine, innocent fun.
Below we outline some joyful activities to inspire a sense of playfulness and fun in your life. Approach these with an open mind and immerse yourself in these new experiences.
As adults, we often disregard things like drawing or painting because we're "not good enough" or it won't make money. However, for this activity, you can try to let go of any expectations. Instead, focus on the strokes of your paintbrush, the process of mixing colours and any shapes you make. You don't have to be "good" at painting to enjoy it or reap the rewards, but you do need to accept it for what it is and allow yourself to enjoy the process regardless of the outcome.
Riding a bike
If you don't own a bike, borrow one from a friend or hire one in your city. Instead of using it as a mode of transport, take your bike out for the simple pleasure of riding and exploring.
Dance to your favourite songs
Physically moving your body can boost endorphins and improve your mental wellbeing. Try to get in tune with your inner child by enjoying these familiar tunes and letting loose.
Plait your hair
For those with long locks, this can be a very soothing, therapeutic action that may remind you of childhood.
From friendship bracelets to knitting, using your hands to create something is a world away from many people's day-to-day jobs hiding behind desks. These options also follow patterns which can be healing and therapeutic. Not to mention it's a great feeling when you've accomplished a project.
Cooking with colour
Add a splash of mermaid-blue colouring to soups, smoothie bowls and drinks with spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that can transform everyday food and drink into something reminiscent of fairground treats without artificial flavours. You can also find vibrant sparking spirulina drinks on the market, like those by fulcompany.com, that make fun and healthy caffeine alternatives as well as a great weight loss drink option.
Use a colouring book
If painting or drawing isn't for you, perhaps you'd enjoy a colouring book. Take your favourite colours and get creative, not worrying about staying in the lines.
Whether you're singing by yourself or doing karaoke with people you love, this is another good way to soothe the inner child by establishing safe, loving connections with people around you.
A somewhat forgotten activity popular amongst children, but gaining popularity with adults again!
Read your favourite children's books or YA novels
Re-reading old books may help you connect to specific moments in your life or re-live the joy of each story.
This gained significant momentum during the pandemic, with many people rediscovering a love for rollerblading in their adult years.
Head to your local charity shop or even your parent's house to find old board games you once loved. Relight that competitive spirit and enjoy quality time with the people around you.
Watch your favourite childhood TV shows and movies
Like books, TV and film became a significant part of many people's childhoods. Thus, these make a fun, exciting way to relax and connect with your inner child.
It's true that your inner child is a part of your subconscious mind and may affect your emotional response to stressful situations. Healing the inner child may promote better emotional management and improved mental health. Play is one way to connect with your inner child while inspiring creativity and better problem-solving skills.
We hope this small article encourages you to try some new self-care activities to increase joy and nurture your mental health.