Adults and play are not two words that commonly go together.
We learn that after a certain age we must stop playing and “grow up”. Play is reserved for children but it shouldn’t be.
Benefits of Play
Play into adulthood:
- relieves stress
- improves brain function
- boosts memory
- sparks creativity
- improves relationships and connection to others
- prevents burn out
- helps you problem solve in new ways
How to Play More
Make your Play History:
To make a play history ask yourself, “when was the last time I truly played? Who was I with? Where was I?”
Write down or discuss the details of that play memory and see what emotions and activities spark your memory.
Some good questions are:
- What emotions were you feeling when playing at that age?
- When is the last time you have experienced play that made you feel those particular emotions?
- What did play feel like? Was it carefree? Exciting? Adrenaline filled? Calming?
- Whichever emotions you chose, are you experiencing them now in your adult life?
Figure How to Bring it into the Present:
Question how you can play now? :
Who with? Where? Is it truly play or is it play for a purpose? If you are playing golf because it is a good way to meet other professionals you are not playing, you are networking. Try to find something that truly brings out the curious child in you.
Make time for Play:
As adults we need to set time aside to focus on self care and play is a form of self care. At first, it may be helpful to set some time aside for play so that you have space and time to let yourself explore.
Go for it:
Try the activities that spark joy for you. I recommend trying solo and group play activities. Solo play helps us access our own creativity, regulate our emotions, and build self esteem. Playing with others, in a group or with your partner can do that as well but what’s huge about group play is it builds team work, helps with cooperation, and builds trust with others. Playing as an adult can make you feel vulnerable so accessing it with others, can feel very transformative for your relationships.
Some examples of play:
Play is different for everyone of course. It can be physical, imaginative, creative, social, or a combination! Some include:
- riding your bike
- playing basketball
- digging your hands into the sand
- making up stories
- rolling around with your dog
- hosting a board game night
Really it is anything that lets you get out of your head, into the present moment, and sparks the emotions that you discussed in your play history.