Recently I read the book Primal Blueprint (I would highly recommend by the way), and it discussed the importance of play. I think that this is something that we frequently overlook, but it is essential to both physical and mental health. It’s a great release, especially for stress. Ever heard about all those studies on countries, who’s workers are healthier, because they take more vacations. A study in New Zealand showed the workers were 82% more productive after a vacation. We live in a society, where we work 40 plus hours a week, running from event to event and over-extending ourselves. Play just isn’t for kids, so let’s look at some of the benefits of play.
- It inspires us to think differently. People who are crazy enough to think they can make a difference, are generally the ones who do.
- Playing brings joy. Play initiates laughter, joy, and feelings of inner peace.
- It reduces stress. It is part of the genetic code; we need play because it is instinctual and a fundamental part of our existence. When we engage in play, it helps us with problem-solving and adapability, which in turn we’re better able to handle the real world and choose healthier answers. The added laughter of play reduces stress, while helping us deal with negative emotions.
- Playing regularly increases longevity. A loss of well-being generally creates physical, mental, and emotional burnout and stress, which is related to health problems. By reducing stress through play, we are more emotional balanced and can lead a longer-healthier life.
- It can reduce struggle, conflict and worry. Studies have shown that it’s an antidote for violent tendencies and an important aspect of positive socialization.
- Play increases our sense of lightness. When we play we get caught in the moment and are carefree. We finish feeling refreshed and have a restored optimism. This allows the brain to remain flexible and to renew neural connections.
- It can stimulate creativity, imagination, and curiosity.
- Play softens the heart. As the heart becomes malleable, then the risk for hypertension and depression is decreased.
- It enhances energy levels. Doing things that are pleasurable to you and being around others having fun brings up (and keeps up) your energy levels longer (much healthier than alternate options like coffee or energy drinks, and it doesn’t have the crash)!
- Play allows us to take risks. While playing we can explore, experiment, and take risks on ideas.
My advice is to start by trying to allow for at least 15 minutes of play a day. It doesn’t have to be scheduled. Be spontaneous and choose activities that you enjoy. Go for a bike ride, a hike, pick up a game of soccer or basketball, in the winter snowboard, or play with your grandkids. I love to play with my grandsons and to shoot my bow as part of my playtime. If you’re already active, do something else you find pleasurable like reading a book or playing board games. I thought that this is an appropriate topic today because I just got to the beach and look forward to playing on the beach with Gavin and Trenton. Go out yourselves and play, you’ll feel refreshed!