The power and benefits of play
The other night my husband and I were coming home from a lovely evening out. As we headed toward our front door we passed a couple of young boys. These boys were running around, darting back and forth between buildings, crouching down, popping back up, and pretty much taking full advantage of the beautiful summer weather. Just as we were about to turn the corner we overheard one of the boys yelling to the other: “We’ll call this our secret escape route. It will be great!”
Tom and I laughed quietly to ourselves at their eagerness and excitement. After a stressful week, the brief scene we witness was a breath of fresh air. As soon as we got inside we each jumped into our own stories of our childhood—proud of the adventures we had created as children.
I have always been an advocate of play. As an activity that is far too often reserved for children (and in many ways is slowly disappearing as we allow technology to replace active play)—I believe more of us “adults” would benefit from taking our very own play day.
Benefits of play… for everyone!
There is vast information out there that shows the emotional, cognitive, affective, social, physical, and educational benefits of play. Play builds the imagination, it promotes social skills, it advances physical development, and it helps us work through our emotions. And many researchers are noting that the benefits are not just for children.
“What do most Nobel Laureates, innovative entrepreneurs, artists and performers, well-adjusted children, happy couples and families, and the most successfully adapted mammals have in common? They play enthusiastically throughout their lives.” - Stuart Brown, Institute of Play
The benefits of play:
Research is showing that play is as important to our physical and mental health as much as eating, sleeping, and exercising.
How can this be? Think about it:
- Play teaches us how to manage and transform our “negative” emotions and experiences.
- Play is a creative process that improves our learning ability (think how quickly kids learn when playing).
- Play is usually a full body experience that relaxes, rejuvenates, and replenishes.
- Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable. It’s a powerful stress reliever.
Playing is freedom
Active play allows us to regain a sense of empowered knowing—after all, when you are the one creating the rules you don’t worry about whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, logical or useful. Playing is powerfully transformative.
Despite the benefits of play, however, somewhere between childhood and adulthood most of us stop playing. We trade our imaginative games for work and responsibilities. Leisure time is often allocated to screen time. We seek to be entertained by things outside of our own self.
“Play is often described as a time when we feel most alive, yet we often take it for granted and may completely forget about it. But play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. - helpguide
When was the last time you really played? I know that for me it has been far too long. I say it is time we each planned a play date—and soon. (Yes, I realize the irony in “planning” a play date, but we have to start somewhere, right?) Do something imaginative, silly, adventurous… FUN. Let’s all reap the benefits of play a little bit more.
Are you in? Leave you play plans in the comments. Let’s have some fun!
(Top featured image by Hamed Saber, Flickr)
(Second image: Me and the hubs engagement photo. We like to play… and are crazy.)
This post is part of Creative Juice Thursday.