Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our modern hectic lives moved our focus from running gleefully around the backyard to grinding through work and family commitments.
It’s a natural progression for sure as adulthood brings increased responsibilities.
The mental stress that comes with those responsibilities; however, has most of us resorting to “zoning out” activities when we finally get down time. Activities like watching tv, surfing social media or reading a book all add up to sitting, sitting, and more sitting.
While it may be the last thing you want to do some days, engaging in fun, body-moving, rambunctious play like we did when we were kids can be a joyful, stress-relieving way to find both relaxation and rejuvenation in our adult lives.
Playing – in an unstructured and creative way – is a great way to boost your imagination, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.
It’s a time to let go of adult commitments and goof around a little more.
Play time doesn’t have to be an added burden on your already packed schedule. You can take a playful approach to your everyday life if you choose. Share a silly joke, throw a frisbee with co-workers, play fetch with the dog, or go for a walk with your partner. Dance, sing, or join a softball league. Whatever it is, find something that brings you joy and makes you feel like a kid again.
Playful means there is no point – no destination to reach, no time limit, no target calorie burn, no need to win. Only fun!
Let your mind wander. Let the giggles escape. Relax and surrender into the joy of being child-like and reap the many health benefits that come with it:
Play relieves stress.
Play creates laughter. Laughter reduces stress. Playing can also trigger endorphins which create a sense of well-being and neuropeptides that improve your immune system and provide pain relief.
Play stimulates the mind.
Fun activities like playing board games, completing puzzles, or team sports can boost memory and improve brain function.
Social connectedness fosters empathy and compassion.
Sharing laughter and fun with others helps forge new social ties as well as reinforces existing relationships. Even over facetime or skype, jokes, funny stories and laughter can be a part of your life.
… And fights depression.
Social interaction through play with family, friends, pets, etc. also wards off depression. We are communal creatures and interacting with others is important for us – even in play. This is a tough one with current social distancing rules but if you are sheltering in place with others, use this opportunity to play, together.
Play boosts productivity.
Companies like Google and Apple know it’s true. You should too. There is a link between fun work environments and productivity. Creating a culture that allows employees to let off steam at work is important to prevent job burnout, job satisfaction, and workplace morale. It will be hard to reinforce this culture when we are all working from home, but it is worth the extra effort.
Play isn’t just for kids. Incorporating more fun and play into your day-to-day life can improve your mood and create a more positive outlook. Especially in times like these, when stress is coming at us from all angles and we are socially distanced from friends and loved ones, taking time to laugh and play is needed now more than ever.
To close this out, there is one more important benefit to adding more play in your life:
It Keeps You Young!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!”
~ George Bernard Shaw.
Now find a way to go play.