We tend to think of play as something solely for children, but really anyone at any age can benefit from play. Play releases hormones that lower stress, create joy, prevent depression, and even improve cognitive abilities. Studies reveal that regularly making time for play can improve physical health by lowering risk for heart disease and other conditions.
Play is an important factor of child development that teaches kids social skills, motor functions, problem-solving, and empathy. Play can provide all of this and more for adults. Play has many mental health benefits, but also makes life more fun and pleasurable - an important benefit on its own. Make time for play and recapture the happiness and freedom you felt as a kid.
Adults often view play as a waste of time. As we get older, we tend to make less time for ourselves and over commit, decreasing our availability for play. In our society of hustle culture, it’s a badge of honor to be endlessly busy.
Self-care is becoming more mainstream and play is becoming an option for more adults. It’s important to take care of yourself so you’re functioning at optimal levels, but it’s also critical to make time for pleasurable things in life. We all deserve to feel happy!
4 Ways Play Is Beneficial For Adults:
Lower Stress Levels
When the body stressed, it releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that keep you activated and ready for fight or flight. Play time releases endorphins into the bloodstream, helping lower the levels of stress hormones and aids in calming. Many of us live with chronic stress, so making time for activities to counteract those stress hormones can improve your overall health
Play is an important part of the developmental process for kids, but play can also improve your brain function as an adult. Using your imagination and creativity helps rewire new neural pathways in your brain. You can literally reprogram your brain by doing things you don’t normally do because it disrupts your normal patterns and your brain learns how to adapt. It’s easier to learn when you’re in a good mood, so making learning fun can help boost your level of creativity and your problem solving skills.
Deepens social skills
Children learn how to interact with others through play and the same can be true for adults. It can be difficult to develop relationships as an adult so approaching others through play can be easier than bonding with someone over current events or the weather. Play can help you explore your boundaries, increase your communication skills, and learn how to collaborate and work well with others.
Play therapy is a type of therapy that is often used with children. Feelings is a cornerstone of play therapy and play helps a child explore their world. Play can help adults do the same. You can explore the world of your inner child by recreating things that brought you joy as a child. You can express how you feel about complex situations in your past through an art project or take some time regularly to practice mindfulness.
Adults at Play
Think about the things that make you feel at peace or full of joy. Maybe it’s spending time outside or engaging with a loved one or even moving your body physically. All of these things can be incorporated into play as an adult!
- Join a local intramural sports league
- Start or join a hiking/walking/running group in your area
- Explore greenways/trails nearby or in your neighborhood on foot or bike
- Play with your dog
- Teach your child a game you enjoyed as a kid
- Revisit activities you liked as a child - reading, painting, singing, dancing, sidewalk chalk, etc..
- Have a snowball or water balloon fight, depending on the season
- Make a craft - paint a picture, color in a coloring book, crochet, collage, etc..
- Build with legos
- Climb a tree or swing on a swing
- Practice an instrument or pick up a new one
- Play a language learning game like DuoLingo
- Visit a zoo or petting zoo and safely interact with animals
- Go to a water park or amusement park