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The Importance of Playtime at any Age

350 playing at the beach

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. ~Plato

As summer approaches, whether we notice or not, we all start to think about having a little more fun. There are cookouts, and Fourth of July parties, and summer vacations and we can all finally spend some time outdoors. There are a lot of memories to reminisce about and different ways to play and have fun. But there is something more to it actually. There is a reason we go through all of this trouble to have a good time.

While play is crucial for a child's development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable.

Relieve stress.

Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improve brain function.

Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity.

Young children often learn best when they are playing—and that principle applies to adults, as well. You'll learn a new task better when it's fun and you're in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and problem solve.

Improve relationships and your connection to others.

Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn't have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.

Keep you feeling young and energetic.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.

Maintain and Improve relationships.

Play is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. Playing together brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe. Trust enables us to work together, open ourselves to intimacy, and try new things. 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.

Play helps develop and improve social skills.

Social skills are learned in the give and take of play. During childhood play, kids learn about verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation, and teamwork. As adults, you continue to refine these skills through play and playful communication.

Play teaches cooperation with others.

Play is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization. Through play, children learn how to "play nicely" with others—to work together, follow mutually agreed upon rules, and socialize in groups. As adults, you can continue to use play to break down barriers and improve your relationships with others.

Play can heal emotional wounds.

As adults, when you play together, you are engaging in exactly the same patterns of behavior that positively shape the brains of children. These same playful behaviors that predict emotional health in children can also lead to positive changes in adults. If an emotionally-insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.

So the next time you feel like you're not thinking clearly, or you haven't been having an easy time with a friend or spouse, or you're feeling tired, sad or angry you might consider letting loose and finding that child within. Here is a list of fun ideas we found that might spark your interest in good old fashioned play time.

A night out with friends: http://www.paintpartynh.com/
An in-person mystery puzzle: http://www.escapetheroomboston.com/
Learn to play a sport: https://www.thehockeyacademy.com
Train your Brain: http://www.lumosity.com/
Take a Hike: http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/wildView?WID=450
Join a league: http://www.nhssc.com/
Play a board game: http://www.catan.com/

 


 

Sources for this article:
http://www.nifplay.org/
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/15/the-importance-of-play-for-adults/

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