So when was the last time you scolded yourself, stomped your foot and commanded with a pointed finger—GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY? Yes, I’m yelling. Play is essential to personal growth and quality of life, yet we play down its importance.
I’m talking to adults here (kids not getting enough unstructured play time is a whole other rant.) Play time is the perfect antidote to what ails many of us. Worry, apprehension, fuzzy thinking, sluggish body and lack of concentration can all be helped with a bit of creative fun. Not convinced? Consider these benefits:
There’s nothing like having your hands immersed in a hunk of clay (or earth if you’re a gardener) to foster a connection to your higher self. No time to meditate? Grab your gardening gloves or take a turn at the potter’s wheel.
These are the perfect play activities that allow for reflection and contemplation—two excellent stress relievers.
Ever find yourself annoyed or angry with someone because you can’t get them to see your point-of-view? Anxiety builds when we feel as though we aren’t being heard. Sometimes we just can’t change things and our only option is to change our perception of the situation.
Play a little Twister® to get some perspective on your adversary’s position. Realizing your opponent can’t get their right foot on a green dot no matter which way they twist might just foster a little empathy. If nothing else it gets you laughing, another critical component of playtime that helps to alleviate anxiety.
Develops Focus and Concentration
Try something a bit adventurous. The thrill of not knowing what’s coming around the bend (no, I don’t mean your boss) develops a sense of discovery and inventiveness. Try hiking or camping or simply exploring a new neighborhood on your bike. Physical play forces you to pay attention and be present to what is happening in the now. When your attention is on what rock you’re going to put your foot on you’re not thinking about what to make for dinner.
Whether you take a painting class or simply play a game of Pictionary®, expressing yourself enhances your creativity and maybe a talent you have neglected. Take piano lessons or attend a drum circle. Do it just for fun.
Enhances Problem Solving Skills
Checkers, chess, Scrabble® or Scattergories® will get your brain going in a different direction. Choose a game that is different than the kind of work you do all day. Enjoy the game and the challenge but if it pushes your anxious button pick up some crayons and paper and scribble instead.
If nothing else play is fun and we get too little of it. Yes, I know, studies show that more than half of the adult population plays video games. Somehow…it’s not quite the same.