These days the phrase “self-care” is thrown around so much that it has almost lost all meaning. When venting to a friend? They recommend self-care. Feeling overwhelmed at the office? Practice self-care. Need alone time? Self-care. Upsetting news story? Self-care. The phrase has morphed into a cure-all. Is your self-care routine feeling as tired as the phrase itself these days? Is the potency of your routine feeling less strong? You are not alone.

During the pandemic and still to this day, health and mental health professionals recommend self-care as a key way to put energy and work back into ourselves. Some routines may include reading in a comfy corner of your home after a long day of work or going on a hike or face timing a friend. Self-care comes in many forms, but it is proven to be a stress reducer as well as a tool for mindfulness. There is no doubt that self-care is pivotal to avoiding burnout and maintaining emotional energy.

What happens though when our carefully curated self-care routine just becomes another thing to check off the list at the end of a hard day? It is no longer serving its purpose of recharging your energy and being a treat for your mind and body. How does one get out of a self-care rut?

One way to explore a new routine is to understand your play personality. As children we are encouraged to play by exploring our creativity, learning something new, or being active in new ways. Why does this need to stop as adults? Play can aid in boosting your mood, relieving stress, and increasing physical movement. Dr. Stuart Brown, a clinical researcher, and the founder of the National Institute for Play has found there to be eight different play personalities.

  1. “The Collector: You enjoy building collections, such as collecting stamps or vintage cars.
  2. The Competitor: You enjoy playing (and winning) games with specific rules, like playing for a neighborhood soccer league.
  3. The Creator or Artist: You find joy in making things, or making things work. You might enjoy doodling, woodworking, decorating, fixing machinery, or sewing.
  4. The Director: You enjoy planning and directing, like hosting themed birthday parties.
  5. The Explorer: You play by discovering something new, either physically (a new place) or mentally. You might play by going on a vacation to a new place or discovering a new type of music.
  6. The Joker: You enjoy being silly and foolish. You might enjoy improv theater or simply making your friends laugh.
  7. The Kinesthete: You enjoy moving your body as play. You might practice yoga or take a dance class for fun.
  8. The Storyteller: You play by listening to or creating stories. You might enjoy going to the theater or writing in a journal” (Saya Des Marais, 2022).

One does not need to fall neatly into one category. It may be helpful to look back at the play you learned as a child and to understand your personality. Once you feel like you understand which categories align with your play style, you can use that information to brainstorm new intentional self-care activities that will truly energize you.


Saya Des Marais, M. S. W. (2022, November 10). The importance of play for adults: Tips for being more playful. Psych Central. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from

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