When we were children life was all about playing, having fun and enjoying ourselves…and I’ve got something to tell you that might be a revelation…IT STILL IS. Do you really think your whole life should be about taking everything, including life, so seriously??? Yes, of course, sometimes we have to put our serious and sensible heads on but NOT ALL THE TIME. Lighten up, loosen that top button and let’s take a look at Playtime for Grownups, how we can play and why we should.
Special Note:- I wrote this blog post a few weeks prior to the current coronavirus emergency. While I realise that ‘Being playful’ might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, it’s actually now more important than ever. Maybe you are sitting in your home ill with the virus (as I currently am) or you’re just terrified by the whole situation and you may not feel like you will ever ‘play’ again but you will… We’re going to get over this.
A playful heart is a wonderful thing, I’m convinced it’s helping me get through….
Obviously some of my suggestions for play will have to wait until after the lockdown but there are still plenty of things you can do. They might even help you survive this thing.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)
Its about a 4 minute read, here’s a brief outline:-
- What is Play.
- Why We Should Play.
- Ideas for Play.
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What is Play?
There are many meanings for the word play, such as when involved in a game or a sport or when an actor ‘plays’ a part or is in a ‘play’. The one I’m most interested in today is the following:-
Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.Oxford Dictionary
Of course the above definition doesn’t exclude playing sports, games and acting especially ‘play’ acting for fun but many of these are also serious competitive careers so let’s just keep the above definition in our mind.
For me Playtime is simply part of Self Care and Self Love.
It is extremely beneficial for our overall health and wellness alongside our existing self care activities:- healthy eating, relaxation, movement and excercise.
Play can be the following and more:-
- Just Goofing around.
- Rough and tumble.
- Creative arts -drawing, painting, sculpture…
- Board games.
- Dancing like nobody’s watching.
- Playing a musical instrument for fun.
- Indulging and enjoying a playful state of mind so being frivolous, cheeky, flirtatious, curious, grateful…
I have a bee in my bonnet about the lack of support we were given when young for things like sports, art and music. If we didn’t show potential for professional greatness, we were discouraged, or at least certainly not encouraged to do it.
We should do these things just for the sheer joy they give us!!!
Dr Stuart Brown founder of The National Institute for Play and a specialist researcher on the benefits of Play identifies 5 main types of play as following:-
- Rough and tumble play – Tug-of-war, tag, play fighting…
- Ritual play – Chess, board games, sports with set rules…
- Imaginative play – Storytelling, painting, drawing, colouring, crafting, play acting, dress up, comedy and improv. classes…
- Body play – Yoga, Pilates, hiking, whitewater rafting, riding roller coasters, mountain climbing, surfing, and snorkeling…
- Object play – Lego, Jenga, building things like sandcastles, dens, Wendy houses, and snowball fights…
Why We Should Play.
Play is crucial for childrens’ development and is extremely beneficial for adults continued development, wellbeing and happiness.
Research on the benefits of grownup playtime is limited but has shown that playful adults:-
were more likely to be good at observing, see things from new perspectives, be more innovative and have lower stress levels.https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-playful-people-5918/
At some point between childhood and adulthood we stop playing. But the stresses and strains of adulthood is exactly the time when we really need the relief that play can give us.
Do we forget how to play or are we just embarrassed to be playful for fear of looking childish?
I fear the latter may be the case although for me I’m heading in the opposite direction…What’s wrong with being childish?
…Children are great, they have great attitudes towards things. They have beginners mind so are curious and open to learn. They don’t think they know it all. They are delighted and enraptured and awestruck, they are joyful, and always laughing… I Rest my case.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Did you know that there is a UN Statute defending childrens right to play, We need one of those for adults too.
Why we should play in a nutshell:-
- It’s fun
- Keeps You Young :- We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)
- Relieves stress – play releases endorphins, our natural feel good chemicals that relieve stress.
- Self worth and confidence.
- It gives us that wonderful freedom we enjoyed as a child
- Self expression – develop new ideas for creating or about ourselves
- We can enjoy experimenting without fear of failure, reprisal or criticism.
- Our sense of self (to know and understand ourselves better).
- We can let our imaginations run wild.
- Emotional wellbeing – helps with depression. It’s down to those endorphins again. Also the social interaction of playing with others helps.
- Improves brain function – games like chess, puzzle solving and memory games help this.
- Sharpens your problem solving skills. Many play activities involve problem solving.
- Helps develop and enhance social skills – Through social interaction and team building during play. Also just improved mood and self confidence makes you a more sociable creature to be around.
- Improves your career prospects. A happy worker is a productive worker.
If I had to sum up what play means to me I would use 2 words
Ideas for Play
A little bit of play goes a long way, We don’t need to be constantly playing to reap the benefits. Even if you can only manage 5-10 minutes per day it’s a start. Taking the first step is always the hardest.
Even better, if you can develop and nurture a playful frame of mind. You can take it with you everywhere and always…
Ideas for Playing:-
- Do anything that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
- Be with anyone who makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
- Go anywhere that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
- Think hard about what you loved to play as a child and do it.
- Creative arts just for fun. paint, draw, colour, paper mâché, make a puppet, make candles…
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Dancing, classes or just put on your favourite music and dance. (one of my students (Hi Ellen 👋) once said that my bellydance classes were like kindergarten for adults. 😂
- Act goofy with your family, friends and even your pets or just by having conversations with yourself.
- Play with your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
- Play sports like tennis, crazy golf etc but remember its all about the taking part not the winning 😁.
- Build sandcastles on the beach.
- Fly a kite.
- Blow bubbles.
- Climb trees or play on a climbing frame (be careful).
- Get your partner or friend and play hide and seek.
- Just grab your friends hand and run as fast as you can. (this will probably end up in you collapsing in giggles.)
- In the summer play rolly polly down a hill.
- Go down the beach and jump over the breaking waves like you used to when you were little. Feel your bare feet connecting with Mother Earth.
- Get your wellies on and go paddle in th stream or jump in the puddles during a rain shower.
- Go out in your garden whilst its raining in your bikini and just dance around. (naked even if you can get away with it🤣)
- Make a Daisy chain and wear it on your head.
- In the summer start a water fight in the garden with your partner, kids or friends.
- Get a friend and do a dressing up photo shoot. Strike lots of ridiculous funny poses and photograph them. Share them on Instagram if you dare!!!
- Play harmless pranks on people you love.
- Flirt outrageously.
- Wear bold clothes that make YOU happy.
- Go to a theme park and ride the roller coasters.
- Always be awestruck by all things nature, the forest, the woods, rainbows, the beach, sunsets, sunrise, the moon, the stars and go out of your way to see them regularly.
- Take a nature walk and put sticky willows on your partners bum in secret.
- Take a nature walk and moo back at the cows or baaaa back at the sheep.
- Hold your friend or grown up Childs hand and start skipping down the street with them.
- Play ropes.
- Have a game of hide and seek.
- Sing out and loud especially if you can’t really sing.
- Build a snowman.
- Go sledging.
- Have a snowball fight.
- Get a pet and have fun playing with it.
I was giggling and itching at the bit to do them just writing some of these. 🤣 Of course this is just some ideas there is so much more you can do. Some of these will make you giggle until your tummy hurts some will simply fill your heart with joy.
If you’d like a PDF copy of these Ideas for Play to download or print click the button below.
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