We usually associate play with childhood, but we’re here to tell you how play can benefit your mood, relationships, job - basically your whole life in adulthood and why it is important. Because play is actually as important for adults as it is for kids.
Play brings joy. And it is awesome for problem solving and creativity in all areas of your life. So the notion that grown-ups shouldn’t play and that it is a waste of your valuable and limited time is simply untrue.
Stuart Brown, an author and psychiatrist, has written a book conveniently called “Play”. In here, he compares play to oxygen. He writes, “...it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” Confused? Think about what play is.
Play is art, books, music, movies, knitting, daydreaming… and much more. Simply put, play is defined as engaging in activity for pure enjoyment and recreation. And it looks different for each one of us. For some, baking and experimenting with cooking is pure pleasure. For others, it’s pure torture.
For Tobias, cooking used to be torture. Now, he’s apparently been bit by a crazy tomato. His favourite dish is and has always been pasta with tomato sauce and since engaging in various cooking videos (he says it’s the best medicine for sleep) it seems he is set to try cooking and experimenting with all variants of tomato sauce. (To much enjoyment for me, by the way). The moral of this anecdote is; find the kind of play you enjoy and mold it so it fits your lifestyle.
Let’s just list some of the many benefits of play to completely convince you to welcome play into your life:
1) Your stress levels will thank you
Play can trigger the release of endorphins which is the body’s natural feel-good chemical. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can relieve pain.
2) Play improves your relationships
We already told you that this is a benefit and here comes the explanation. Laughing and having fun with others can foster empathy, trust and intimacy. These are healthy traits and can help strengthen your relationships now, they can help break the ice with strangers and make new friends.
3) Your brain function will thrive
Reading books or playing games that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. Playing chess, doing puzzles or whatever games that float your boat - go for it! And as a bonus, these can also help prevent depression.
4) Play boosts activity and makes you more productive
It’s not all fun and games (pun intended) that companies like Google have areas for play at the workplace and actually encourage employees to play and collaborate. Play makes for better team building and cooperation within the company and that really is a win-win situation. Just like your winner mentality improves your own self and those around you.
So, these are some of the benefits of play. And as you can see, you shouldn’t think of play as a waste of time or as an activity that’s only for children. Instead, consider it an investment in your overall mental and physical health. Here are some ideas for your play and how to find activities you enjoy:
- listen to music that touches you in some way or another (and maybe dance around? or sing out loud?)
- go for a walk joined by your favourite podcast
- take some time to sit down and draw
- pour a nice cup of tea and read a book
- are you the next cake master? invite someone you love to try your newest creation
- practice mindfulness
- grab a cup of coffee with a friend
- go play ball
- spend time at the library and fine new interesting topics to explore
- buy some pearls and beads and start playing around with jewellery
Find a playful activity, enjoy the process and be confident in knowing you are doing something great for yourself.
Lastly, we recommend watching the TED Talk with aforementioned Stuart Brown, you can find it here.
Our PLAY artworks come from this idea that play is good for you. With them, we want to encourage you to play more.