Think back on some of your fondest memories as a child. What were you doing? I’ll bet in many of them you were playing — with your friends, your family, your toys or your pets. Play brings so much joy to children, and it’s actually how they learn best. As we age, life gets busy and we tend to view play as frivolous and unnecessary. But the benefits of play don’t stop just because we get older.
The Benefits of Play in Adulthood
Playing is a form of therapy and release. Here are just a few of the benefits of scheduling some playtime:
- Relieve stress. Play is fun, and when something is enjoyable, the body releases those feel-good endorphins. Endorphins promote well-being and can even help control pain. Have fun and release pain? Yes, please! Play is refreshing!
- Improve your brain. As we age, we need to keep using our brains. When we learn new activities, we create new pathways in the brain and can ward off memory loss.
- Decrease depression. By adding more fun and social interaction into our lives, we can improve our level of happiness.
- Connect with others. Few things improve a relationship like doing something fun together. Vegging out in front of the TV night after night does nothing for the brain or relationships!
- Increase vitality. By nurturing the fun in our lives through play, we feel more youthful and increase energy levels.
How to Incorporate Play
When we were children, play came so naturally. But you may find as an adult that it takes a little more effort to incorporate play in your life. Since you probably can’t call over the fence to your best buddy on her swing set every afternoon, it may take some planning. Here are some ideas for activities to get you started:
- Take an art class. Paint, draw or create with clay. Take a class through the county, community college or local art organization.
- Get crafty. Join a knitting group through a local craft store. Sign up for a cake decorating class. Take up photography and make it your mission to capture moments of joy. Sparking your creativity engages you and releases those wonderful endorphins I mentioned above.
- Travel. Go discover a new city, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just a couple of hours away. Explore. Be adventurous, and be open to what you find.
- Write. Whether it’s with a group or alone, tap into your feelings and creativity through writing. There are great books out there with writing prompts for each day, as well as creative writing classes.
- Do something silly. Learn a magic trick and share it with everyone you know. Become a stellar joke teller to liven up interactions. Go fly a kite. Learn to make perfect meringue. Take on a new, pleasurable challenge and be OK with your blunders. It’s all part of the fun.
Why should the kids get to have all the fun? Make space for play in your life and reap the many joyous benefits.
A nurse for more than 25 years, Karen David is a Certified Wellness Coach and Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist. She brings her passion for well living and calm presence to empower others in health and wellness. Karen is CEO of Live Life Well, LLC.
This article is for informational purposes only. Practices, services or products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.