Have you played today?

Young artist with paints. Close-up. Focus on paints.
Young artist with paints. Close-up. Focus on paints.

Have you played today? Play…we think of it as something that children do when they are young, before they learn to know better. We think of it as little girls with dolls and buggies; or boys with cars and bulldozers. Many of us do not think it has a benefit or a purpose.

What is play? For children, it is the way they incorporate information into their lives. Children move through stages of play from pretend to concrete representation. Adults? Well they don’t REALLY play, do they? Dr. David Elkind says that play, work, and love are three dimensions of our lives at all ages. If we do not have all three, we end up unhappy and die quicker.

Consider the question “How do I play?” For myself, I thought of Toastmasters, an organization I belong to. Yes, I kid you not, for me, Toastmasters is my form of play. This is MY ‘me’ time. It is what I do special to relax.

You may not have Toastmasters as a form of ‘play.’ Each of us, no matter our age, background, or schedule need to learn to play or to restart playing. I am going to give you some quick benefits of playing.

Benefits of play:

  • Play can inspire you to think different.

Do you have problems solving problems? By playing, you can learn to think out of the box? By playing a spontaneous game of Nerf basketball, you can end up finding the answer to that companies’ production drop. Picking up a box of crayons may give way to solving your team’s low morale.

  • Playing can bring greater joy to your life.

There is nothing more fun than building a sand castle and then watching it wash away. Or playing hide and seek with your grandchild, laughing when they think you can not see them with them standing in plain sight but hiding their face.

  • Play reduces stress.

By playing, it gives us better coping skills in handling complex life issues.

  • Play increases longevity

Many adults do not feel that they can not spare the time for play. Instead adults need to schedule play time for their own health.

  • Play can reduce worry, conflict, and struggle.

As we deal with life’s hassles, we can learn to choose alternatives through play.

  • Play can increase your sense of lightness

Play restores us and recharges us. It restores our optimism. What is really great is playing with a child. That can help keep you young by increasing our neural connections.

  • Play can stimulate our creativity, imagination, and curiosity.
  • Play softens the heart – and it is good for heart health.
  • Play can enhance your energy levels.
    • Instead of reaching for that coffee when your energy is zapped, go play a game instead.
  • Play can give you the opportunity to take risks

The best thing about play is that no one can fail at it.

You may have not been one to play a lot as a child. Maybe you have a ‘type A’ personality. You can learn to play. As one adult to another if you would like a boost in your energy, a lengthening of your life, try to set a time to play each day. If you do not feel that is possible, then set a time each week to relax and play.

Ideas for play can be sports, board games for adults or even children, or hiking and fishing. Whatever you find to be ‘play’ for you, get it on your  calendar for the coming week.