For me, play time is time spent with people. It’s about finding things that bring out your playful spirit and make you laugh, smile, relax, and bring you joy. Why should we play? After all, grown-ups are responsible, hard-working, and serious-minded.
While all this is accurate, fulfilling these roles 24-7 can lead to some very stressed out adults. Play allows for us to be creative. It also helps us feel younger and more energized. Whether we spend time playing with our pets, our children, our significant other, or our friends, it is essential for maintaining good mental health and we should find ways to do it often if not every day, i.e. don’t wait for the weekend to find your inner child!
Let’s go back a little to childhood…Tag, hide-and-seek, manhunt, marbles, stick ball, 1,2,3, red light, dodge ball, those were all games most of us played. We made the rules, we arbitrated when it was necessary, we picked teams, we made agreements, deals, and decisions. So much was learned while we were playing. Playing was actually providing great stimulation for our brains as they were busy making sense of the rules, planning our strategy, playing negotiator when things got heated. But the most important thing about our play was that it was so much fun and we did it with people that we liked.
Just like during childhood, play can be organized or spontaneous, but it needs to happen. Play should not be about getting something done, and we should not look at it as a waste of our time, time when we could be doing something more productive.
Remember when you were a child, you would put off doing homework or chores so that you could go outside and play with your friends.
So be a little reflective and determine which part of your day brings you the most joy. Focus on that and use it to guide your play time. Get creative and think up ways to have a little fun with your loved ones.
When was the last time you suggested an ice cream fight in the back yard? Or, how about using your body to measure the length of your driveway? Here are some other fun suggestions:
Designate a day to celebrate being a member of your family and challenge your family to come up with a great family tag line.
Designate a day to go for a treasure hunt in your neighborhood: How many things can you find in 30 minutes? The winner gets a prize. Make teams and get really creative by adding a twist of your own in the middle of the hunt.
Designate a day to go see the sun rise with your friends or family. Bring blankets and cameras. Take pictures then have a contest using random people at a coffee shop or other location. Show your photos of the sun rise and see whose is best by vote. The winner gets a prize.
Remember, while these are good, the best way to get the most out of play is to make it your own, even if it is by doing organized, planned activities. Don’t rule out the spontaneous tickle fight or pillow fight on the couch or any other spontaneous activity that will get you excited, eager, and desirous of picking up where you left off.
The cool thing about doing these fun things is that you’ll get more creative and you’ll want to do it more often because it’s fun. Your friends will take a page from your book and come up with others of their own. The reason for this is that playing is contagious. All of us have a playful nature. It’s just hiding under the guise of our grown-up responsibilities and our idea that we have to do something with a purpose, even if it takes us away from what we should be doing. However, uncovering the playful side of ourselves is key to improving our mood, giving us an energy boost, and maintaining our emotional balance.
Jannette is an administrator for the Edison Township Board of Education. After undergoing surgery, Jannette suffered from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Doctors prescribed medication but Jannette did not want to become dependent on such. She decided to start eating foods to assist in healing. Through this process, she discovered running, biking, eating right, and the use of natural products to assist in aging gracefully. Now, she runs, bikes, and swims with her 15 year old daughter and manages to outlast her on occasion. She is passionate about helping others do the same.
Main Photo Credit: Konstantin Yolshin/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Andresr/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/shutterstock.com