Your Five Fab Reasons to Play!

Play is one of the best gifts that we can give to ourselves.

Here are Five fabulous reasons to get out and play.

1) Play gives our brains a break. If you work in a job/ career that requires a lot of giving, lots of mental or physical energy, your brain needs and craves down time. There is a difference between down time where we tune out and go on a auto pilot like when we watch television or movies. These are passive exercises. Play is an active exercise that allows our brain to stretch in another direction and as we play we actually build new pathways in our brain. One of the ways that we can give energy back to ourselves is by using creative play: variety of arts, crafts, music, theater. These activities allow us to step away from the outside world for a little while. Sometimes, even allowing us to process frustration, anger, joy, good and bad days. This internal play can fill up otherwise depleted energy stores.

I give myself Permission to Play in order to recharge my internal energy supply.

2) Play shuts off our internal, sometimes very insistent editor. When we play, our brain does amazing things. We may be faced with some kind of problem at work, at home, or with our kids or business. However, when we begin to play, and our brain takes a much needed break, then suddenly it starts working with the problem on another level. The play gives our brain permission to flip the situation around inside, turn it inside out and look at it from another perspectives. In doing so, allowing us to possibly see other solutions that previously hadn’t occurred to us. If we allow ourselves to play and set aside the problem for a while we can see new perspective. Many writers know this. If I am hit with a bit of writer’s block, I walk away. I distract myself with other artistic projects, or play with my kids. Ken Robinson in one of his books gives example after example of scientists, mathematicians, and artists that gained clarity by walking away.

I have Permission to use Play to let go of a problem that I may be open to new solutions.

3) Engagement in social play, such as game nights or group sports, allows us a opportunity to improve our own social skills, just as children do when they move from solitary play as toddlers to group play as preschoolers. Humans are naturally social creatures; we need social interaction. Even introverts enjoy engaging socially, maybe not as much or in the same way as extroverts, but they do, especially with their close circle. Social play reminds us that we are not alone in the world. When we are in the midst of a creative cycle, sometimes, we start shutting ourself off from the world as we delve deeper into the task before us. Though sometimes necessary to the creative process, this can often lead to loneliness, sometimes depression. When we are only listening to ourselves, it is easy to lose perspective and let negative thoughts and feeling consume us. We are human. We need social connection. Yes, even just having coffee and conversation with a good friend is play.

I give myself Permission to take time to engage in Play with my circle of friends.

4) Social play also give a chance to rehearse new ideas and behaviors in a place where it may be more acceptable to change. When we play with our trustworthy circle of friends, we gain permission to learn, grow and change on a small scale before we share with the whole world. Writers and other artists often keep their work to themselves, possibly only sharing with an exclusive trusted group of people. We want honest and loving feedback from people we trust before revealing our passion to the world. I imagine that something similar happens in scientific and academic circles as well. With scientists sharing their ideas and test results with trusted colleagues before sharing them with the rest of us.

I have Permission to take risks and try new things when I Play with people I trust.

5) Play gives our mental health a good reboot. As we go through life with all it’s stressors and turmoil, play often lets us laugh when we think we can’t or shouldn’t. It reroutes thinking that can spiral us down quickly. Play and laughter also releases endorphins into our bodies that just make us feel good. Play is JUST GOOD FOR OUR CREATIVE SOUL! We need play. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a frustrating day, or have been just feeling down, like when my car just got smashed in, and a good friend made me laugh, smile and just have fun. It doesn’t just change perspective on a problem but it allows joy into our lives.

I give myself Permission to laugh, have fun, and enjoy healthy Play to improve my mental health.