Photography of the GameTime playground in Schaper Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Charlotte Photographer - PatrickSchneiderPhoto.com

Why Play Isn’t Just for Kids

Photo Courtesy of GameTime Gametime.com 

In our article, The Benefits of Play, we talk about how great play is for children not just physical development, but also cognitive, emotional, social, and more. But counter to what we’ve been socialized to believe, play is not just for kids. It’s also great for adults!

There is a lot of research out there to support that unproductive fun is crucial to living a healthier life. As we are all inundated in a culture of workplace stress, busyness, and being “plugged in” with technology all the time, we all need a break from the seriousness to balance our lives with some playtime– and not just leisure time. Many of us like to take breaks in front of the TV or mobile screen, which is not active playtime.

Playing with your romantic partner, children, pets, friends, or co-workers can be a huge benefit to you in many of the same ways it benefits children. It adds joy to your life, relieves stress, stimulates creativity, and creates connections. Here’s more about how play can help you as an adult:

Stress Relief

In our busy lives, relief from stress is hard to come by. Play can melt away that stress– simply by having fun! Play can trigger the release of endorphins, which gives you a sense of wellness and even some pain relief. The fun of play actually promotes healthy chemicals in our brains!

Improved Cognitive Function

This is a benefit especially important to older adults. By engaging in fun activities that challenge the brain, studies show you can help prevent memory loss and improve brain function. Plus, the social interaction of playing with loved ones can help deter mental health issues. Fun but challenging activities such as chess, puzzles, Sudoku, and quizzes are great for your brain.

Boosted Energy

Because play is active, it can help you boost your energy and improve your immune system to help you function at your best.

Stimulated Creativity

In our article about the Benefits of Play, we reference that children learn best when they are playing. This is also true of adults. You become better at solving problems and adapting when you’re in a playful and relaxed mood. Play boosts your creativity and stimulates your mind.

Improved Connection to Others

When sharing in fun through play, this can breed trust, intimacy, and compassion with those you’re sharing with. Through a playful state of mind, it becomes much easier to connect with people– including strangers. Play also can deepen your existing relationships– it keeps relationships fresh and exciting, and it can also help two adults work through pain and disagreements.

Improved Social Skills

Just as children learn social skills through play, adults can improve upon their social skills with play too. As adults, play helps expand our ability to communicate and become more comfortable with communication that may have previously been difficult for us.

Healing

When children play, they can release emotional trauma and work through the emotional pain that may otherwise be too difficult to work through in reality. The same is true of adults. If an emotionally-insecure adult plays with a trusted partner, it can help replace negative beliefs with positive ones.

How to Become Better at Playing as an Adult

Making time for more play in your life can improve your health, your relationships, your mood, and your disposition. Here are some tips for including more fun in your daily life:

  • Arrange play nights with work colleagues– bowling, billiards, mini-golf (Swing-A-Round Fun Town, Kokomo Joes, Cave Spring Golf Center), fun at the park, karaoke, etc.
  • Play with a pet– fetch, chase, walk, run
  • Host a game night– invite family or friends
  • Schedule time at a park– throw a Frisbee, play catch, fly a kite, etc. Check out the many parks you can visit in St. Charles County.
  • Play with children– If you don’t have children of your own, schedule time with extended family or children of your friends
  • Surround yourself with playful people– Learn from the best players how to be more playful!

Conclusion

There are many benefits to play even for adults. Play is healthy for our bodies and minds, great for our relationships, and even therapeutic. Put some of these tips into practice so you can reap the benefits of play on a regular basis.

And make sure you attend Community Strong’s Day of Play event on September 7, 2019, at O’Day Park. This free event will feature family-friendly games, live music for dancing, wellness education, and healthy food trucks to celebrate how we can all move one step closer to a healthier life through a playful mindset.

Sign up to Play here!