Play, how do we define it and what benefits does it bring?
When you think of ‘play’, chances are you associate it with children. When we become adults we’re not usually encouraged to play, to mess around and just have fun! Things become ‘serious business’ – work, family, mortgage etc.
When was the last time you… somersaulted into a pool, played a board game, computer game, ran around a field/court in a sports team or bantered with friends? Some of us might do these types of things regularly, others infrequently, or not at all.
Play can broadly include activities that we enjoy and do for the sake of it. We’re absorbed, engaged and time flies when we’re playing! Different types of play may overlap and include:
- Imaginative (creative/pretend)
- Body (e.g. jumping into a pile of leaves)
- Parallel (beside others but not with them)
- Object (use of toys/stimuli)
Apart from the obvious – having fun! Play brings opportunities to practice life skills such as:
- Developing social skills
- Defining boundaries
- Building relationships
- Exploring the world
- Expressing emotions
- Problem solving
There’s a growing desire to change the automatic association of ‘play’ with childhood. Many believe that play can bring multiple benefits to adults too, including reducing stress and improving overall well-being.
Before you cringe at the idea of being asked to play tag or hide and seek with your friends at the weekend, there’s many other ways you can incorporate more opportunities for fun and humour in your week that suit you. They don’t need to be childish in nature – although… having personally played kids’ games in a playground with 8 other adults the other week (including some very questionable cartwheels) I can report back that it’s really not that bad! You may find yourself laughing and in possession of an unexpected, fiercely competitive side…
What do you currently do for recreation? How does it make you feel and can you block out more time in your week to do more of this?
Thanks for reading!
Brown, S. L. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. Penguin.
Cohen, L. J. (2008). Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children that will Help you Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence. Ballantine Books.