BEE HEARD: Goofing off is seriously healthy

Photo Credit: Native Connections

Did you know that March 22, is National Goof Off Day. I did not know this before today, but as I was scrolling through the various “holidays” and observances for March, it caught my attention.  

As someone who works in mental health and culture, what came to mind was the power of play, laughter, and humor to get us through difficult times. The healing and rejuvenating potential of allowing ourselves to be playful and even silly sometimes can literally shift our biology: it changes the chemicals in our bodies, those stress hormones and acidity that comes from chronic stress or worry. Believe me, as a worrier, I know. I can feel that acidity flooding my system when I start to stress out.  

Cultivating or staying true to our sense of humor, learning a new joke, or looking for the lightness in sometimes heavy situations can make all the difference. I’m proud to say that at our Behavioral Health Division, one hears laughter throughout the building quite often. You might have heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine” or “laughter is the final stage of healing.” You might have heard miraculous stories about how terminal illnesses have been reversed through ample laughter.  

On the idea of “play” you might have heard of “play therapy” for kids. It’s a shame that play therapy isn’t also offered to adults (I say with a little grin). With the responsibilities and stresses of life, we adults can sometimes get bogged down with worries, planning, and staying on top of all the responsibilities. As I mentioned, I’m a worrier so this is something I’m constantly aware of.  

One recent goal I made for myself to curb this was, at least one day a week, to spend some time doing something I enjoy *for no other reason* than because it is enjoyable. There must not be an outcome, goal, or obligation in this activity. In other words, I choose to do that thing or activity not because I should or have to do it. The activity should be aimless and without a goal. This has sometimes proved harder than I thought.  

“Oh, I know, I’ll read that book that’s been sitting on the shelf” I will think. But then I will realize, it’s a non-fiction book that I feel I should read in order to do my job better or “advance myself” in life. “No, no, no,” I tell myself. This activity needs to have no other goal than enjoyment. Better if I get my mind out of the way and do something that doesn’t take too much thinking.  

But none of this is to say that “goofing off” or play is in contrast to reverence, wisdom, and dignity. We don’t have to be ridiculous to be playful or breach appropriate protocols or professional boundaries. Taking a healthy approach to play and silliness might be as simple as watching a funny show that makes us laugh or smiling more at others. The underlying idea is to cultivate joy.  

One last thing that play, goofing off, and laughter offer us: they are ways of cultivating gratitude. It’s easier to feel grateful, to give thanks, when we are in a space of lightness, joy, and openness, remembering and embodying the gift of life. On that note, we give thanks for our diligent and resilient community and for all the dedicated staff and departments who make this such a strong community.    

Here’s to your good health! 


It’s okay not to feel okay 

If you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use please reach out to us. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division at 970.563.5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist.  


Reminder: If you need to talk to someone, please reach out 


And for those interested in opioid use education, harm reduction, and support, please contact us for quick Naloxone (Narcan) training and fentanyl test strips. We can schedule individual, family, or friends training times at our Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building, or we can come to you, and the training is around 30 minutes. Please call us at 970.563.5700 to set up a training appointment. 


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