Making Time For Play

Playing is not just for children. Adults also need play. Play releases happy chemicals (endorphins) in our brains, relaxes us, strengthens our relationships with others and adds to our emotional wellbeing. Whether we play with children, pets, friends or loved ones, it's important we make time for it in our lives.  

 

Many of us focus so much on work and family commitments that we never seem to have time for simple fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stopped playing. Play is not just necessary for children; it can also be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Play is a time to forget about our work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. We can play with our romantic partner, our friends, our pets or children. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others, strengthening our bonds and making them more resilient. It can fuel our imagination, creativity and problem-solving abilities, as well as relieve stress and add joy to life.  

 

When was the last time you built a snowman, played charades with your family/co-workers, threw a Frisbee on the beach/in the park, played basketball/rounders with a family/friends? There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. Give yourself permission to play. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships—as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. Laughter makes us feel good and the good feelings that comes from laughter stays with us long after the giggles subside. Playing together can also heal resentments and heal emotional wounds and can keep our connections exciting, fresh and vibrant. 

Play is essential for developing emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills in children. Children learn through play. Playing with children will aid their development while also bringing you closer together and strengthen your bond. If you don’t have young children, arrange a play date with your grandchildren, nephews/nieces, or offer your friend a break and take their child/children for an afternoon play date. Playing will keep you feeling young and energetic. Children will very happily include you in their world of play and it can be easy to lose your inhibitions around play when with children. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

You can reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. The more you play, joke, and laugh, the easier it becomes.  If you find it hard to schedule time especially for it, try to include it in your daily routines. If you exercise, try to ensure it's playful and fun - try zumba, ice skating/roller blading, use a trampoline or take up a dance class like salsa. Play in whatever way is fun for you. Do you like active things (try paintballing, go to a roller disco, try learning circus skills, arrange a chasing game with water guns, get a hola hoop/skipping rope/frisbee, go bowling/miniature golf), or do you prefer more less energetic activities (sing out loud (in funny voices if you like) when driving in your car/in the shower, craft making (e.g. make play doh you can bake and make some gifts for family/friends. Paint them afterwards), sing karaoke with family/friends, fly a kite, invite friends over for board games/charades, There are lots of ideas online as to how you can incorporate more play into your day, the important thing is that you make time for it. Below are a couple of videos which show the value of play and how we can easily incorporate it into our working like, for the benefit of both ourselves and others. 

6. Combine Fun With Other Activities. Think of the things on your to-do list, and then look for ways to make them more fun. For example, I’ve already mentioned exercise. When most people think of exercise they think of self-sacrifice and drudgery. However, exercise can be fun.

Here are some ideas:

  • Shop around for an exercise class that you enjoy. Try SoulCycle, Zumba, pole dancing, and so on. Don’t stop until you find a class that feels like play to you.

  • apocalypse, and having fun, all at the same time.

  • Remember bouncy castles? Those were so much fun! The adult equivalent is a mini-trampoline! And it turns out that rebounding is one of the best exercises that there is.

8. Have Play-Dates With Your Significant Other. Date-night doesn’t have to be dinner and a movie. Instead, you can go to a theme park, go on a scavenger hunt, or play paintball. After all, as I explain in my post “18 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong“, you’ll be strengthening your relationship by keeping playfulness alive.

9. Befriend a Fun Person. The people you hang out with will have an enormous impact on your life. If you need to relearn how to relax, be more spontaneous, laugh more, and simply be more willing to play, look for someone who’s already doing these things. Then, follow their lead.

10. Hang Out With a Kid. Little kids innately know how to play and have fun. When I need to have more fun, I visit my nephews. They never disappoint.  We juggled, played a game that involved hopping around the house, and even danced to Joey Montana’s song, “Picky”. It was fantastic!

Conclusion

As an adult, you have every right to enjoy yourself. In fact, adults need play. George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

© 2020 by Theresa Cawley