Playing Is Serious Business!

Just finished reading a very interesting article the Tom turned me on to: The Serious Need For Play by Melinda Wenner, published in Scientific American Mind. The article is full of studies about the importance of play in childhood development and well-being. In essence, Play is an integral component relating to three central themes: (1) Playing relieves stress; (2) Playing helps to build social skills; and (3) Playing may actually make you smarter (or at least more creative in your problem-solving skills).

As an adult, have we missed the boat when it comes to play? Wenner states that although researchers usually focus on the effects of play on the developing brain, it is important for adults to play too! So how do we get more play into our lives? Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute for Play has a few suggestions:

  1. Body Play: Participate in some form of active movement that has no time pressures or expected outcome (hint: if you are exercising just to burn fat, that is not play!).
  2. Object Play: Use your hands to create something you enjoy (it can be anything; again there doesn't have to be a specific goal).
  3. Social Play: Join other people in seemingly purposeless social activities, from small talk to verbal jousting.
It might seem elementary, but if you are still struggling to figure out how to bring more play into your life, think back to what you enjoyed as a kid. According to Brown: "Find your childhood play's 'true north' and try to translate those memoreis into activities that fit the current circumstances."

Good luck and remember to schedule a little play time for yourself today!