When was the last time you engaged in play? Many people recognize the importance of play for children, but may perceive it as unproductive or a guilty pleasure for adults. Once we reach adulthood, we are expected to get serious, and between personal and professional responsibilities, there’s often no time to play. “The only kind [of play] we honor is competitive play,” according to Bowen F. White, MD, a medical doctor and author of Why Normal Isn’t Healthy. But play is just as important for adults as it is for kids and it can increase our overall wellbeing and health.
Why is play healthy?
- play releases endorphins which counteracts the stress hormone, cortisol
- play increases our ability to bond and connect with others
- play restores our vitality and supports our immune system
- play gets the creative juices flowing in the brain
- play can increase brain function and keep us sharp and potentially reduce the affects of aging
- active play can help improve sleep
So what is play?
Everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting, playing games and more. Playing together can help couples increase their emotional intimacy. We don’t need to play all the time in order to enjoy the benefits. A little bit of play can go a long way toward boosting our productivity and happiness.
So how do you incorporate play into your life and into your relationships?
- surround yourself with other playful people
- think back to the types of play you enjoyed as a child and find ways to integrate it into your life now
- follow someone else's lead- find out what kind of playful activities they enjoy and join them
- explore and enjoy nature
- find activities that cause laughter
- be flirty with your partner
- play with animals- throwing the ball for a dog or playing with a cat are two examples
What are some other examples of play?