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Published on March 19, 2019

woman playing on a swing laughing

#TryItTuesday: Take Time to Play

One of the things I’ve become more aware of since I’ve become a grandma: somewhere on the journey between childhood to adulthood, I stopped playing.

How about you? Can you remember the last time you played? Not zoning out in front of the TV or computer or scrolling through your phone, but engaging, rejuvenating play as we did as children.

What Play Is, Why It's Important

Play is finding joy, amusement, humor and even entertainment in our daily life. Unfortunately, most of society tends to dismiss play for adults as play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure.

The importance of play for children is well documented. Researchers have recently begun discovering the benefits for adults, too.

When we permit ourselves to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, we not only increase our happiness, we reap several health benefits.

The Benefits of Play

The National Institute for Play (NIP) believes that play can dramatically transform our health, our relationships and our lives.

Research shows that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress-related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence.

The many benefits of play include:

  • Increases vitality
  • Generates optimism
  • Increases immune system
  • Fosters empathy
  • Promotes a sense of belonging and community
  • Enhances relationships
  • Decreases and relieves stress
  • Stimulates the brain and improves brain function
  • Improves imagination and creativity
  • Increases emotional well-being
  • Develops social skills
  • Boosts productivity
  • Helps prevent burnout at work
  • Refreshes our minds and body
  • Boosts innovation 

Instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in well-being.

Let’s Play

One of the best ways to get in some play time is to rethink our approach to exercise. Don’t know where to start with beginning to exercise playfully?

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Participate in physical activities that are fun and motivating, not ones that feel like a chore.
  • Don’t repeat the same exercise each day or week. Change your routine with different types of activities.
  • Act like a child. Hula hoop, jump rope, hopscotch and swinging are all examples of child-based activities that will get your heart pumping and get you moving. A round of Ring Around the Rosie with the grandchildren always has us in giggles, and what a work out!

A few activities that are fun and playful:

  • Walking or hiking. Explore new trails each week, record where you have gone and plan where you would like to try next.
  • Dancing. There are lots of gym classes that include dance and music such as Zumba. Or you can turn on the music and dance in your kitchen.
  • Play with your kids. Playing a game of tag, jumping on the trampoline, swimming or creating an obstacle course in your backyard is sure to bring some fun.
  • Schedule time outdoors like in a park or at the beach to throw a Frisbee or fly a kite with friends. Getting out in nature can improve your mood and can be a fun social activity.
  • Yoga is a fantastic way to tone and strengthen your body, relax and have fun all at the same time.
  • Join a recreational sports league like softball or a bowling team with friends or sign up by yourself and meet some new people.

Creative Play

Here are some ways that you can introduce more creative play into your life:

  • Coloring or painting. There are several great options with all the new adult coloring books, and a blank canvas offers unlimited creative opportunities.
  • Journaling. Spend time each day expressing yourself in writing.
  • Get crafty. Visit your local hobby or dollar store and find a craft that piques your interest.
  • Schedule time for a hobby. Always wanted to learn sewing? Or how about woodworking? Explore gardening or bird watching.
  • Music. Learn how to play an instrument.

Play can be anything you enjoy: board games, playing with a pet, building a snowman in winter or building sand castles at the beach in summer.

I'm discovering that many everyday activities can be "play" — it's often a matter of me being intentional to slow down and making a few tweaks to make it fun. (Like adding music and dancing while cleaning).

Make some time for play today — you deserve it!

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