Play empowers people to be flexible thinkers, creative, young-at-heart and free-spirited. It provides an opportunity for pure enjoyment and doesn’t need structure. Play is free-flowing fun that unleashes our imagination.
Playfulness is something we associate with children and childhood - we all know and understand why and how important play is for children, but the benefits of playfulness are arguably even bigger for adults.
So many adults don’t make time for fun. Some of them even shun it. With fancy educational accomplishments, steady careers, and big vocabularies, adults tend to get stuck in their ways.
But, it's important to carve out time for leisure - if not daily, then at least throughout the week.
Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind.
The benefits of play
Play will add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable.
Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Improve brain function. Playing can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing - a principle that applies to adults, as well. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind.
Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.
How to play more
Develop your playful side. It’s never too late to develop your playful, humorous side. If you find yourself limiting your playfulness, it’s possible that you’re self-conscious and concerned about how you’ll look and sound to others when attempting to be lighthearted.
Remember that as a child, you were naturally playful; you didn’t worry about the reactions of other people. You can reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. The more you play, joke, and laugh - the easier it becomes.
There’s no one answer here. Everyone has a different play profile.
Body play (dance, go hiking, move your body).
Imaginative play (storytelling, painting, acting).
Object manipulation (model trains, puzzles, writing, drawing).
Ritual play (board games, sports with defined rules).
If you’re not sure what to do, feel free to mix and match and try something new. Playfulness means that you create fun in the most random situations. Don't take yourself too seriously, just enjoy being silly.
Finally - and this might sound less fun - try putting playtime into your schedule. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, block off an hour here and there to cut loose.
Once you get into the habit of prioritizing play, you can also take a more informal approach and build in spontaneity as you go.
What kind of fun and playful things are you already thinking of? Share your playful thoughts and ideas and let's get that ball rollin'.