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Why Do We Play?

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Why do we play? We know that for children, play is necessary for proper cognitive and social development. Did you know that play is important for adults too?

young blond boy swinging at a playground

What is Play?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, PLAY is defined as "to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose." It can also be defined as "activities that are freely sought and pursued solely for the sake of individual or group enjoyment."

Considering these definitions, do you play?

Benefits of Play

  • Play releases endorphins, which help us feel less stressed.

  • Play increases our energy levels.

  • Play stimulates the brain. (who doesn't need that?!?!)

  • Play builds creativity.

  • Playing with others strengthens relationships.

  • Play increases our sense of humor.

  • Play adds more enjoyment to our lives.

  • Play improves our mood.

How Do We Play?

As adults, we can sometimes get so busy working, cleaning, cooking, driving kids to sports, paying bills, doing household repairs, etc., that we sometimes forget to play. Go too long without play and you might find you're not even sure how to do it anymore! Review the list below and find something that you could do just for the fun of it!

  • Find a sport you enjoy.

  • Plan a family board game night.

  • Be creative - draw, paint, sew, write, woodworking, play an instrument.

  • Start a collection.

  • Enjoy movement - dance, bike, swim, yoga.

  • Play mini-golf.

  • Read a book just for fun. Start a book club with friends.

  • Explore your neighborhood. Look for hidden gems such as a park or museum you haven't been to.

  • Learn something new (just for fun) like a language, flower arranging, or learn to play an instrument.

  • Do puzzles (jigsaw, crossword, etc), extra points for the analog versions.

  • Arrange a card game with friends or play a solitaire game.

  • Get down on the floor and play with the kids.

  • Pull out your crayons and a coloring book or even sketch on a scrap piece of paper

If you are a busy person, you may even wonder how to find the time to try! With just a bit of determination, most of us can find a little time every day or every week for play. Many of these play options don't require a lot of time. If you prioritize play over social media and TV, you can likely carve out enough time to make it happen.

If your interest requires more time or money (sport, class, etc.), you might need to get a little more creative to make it happen. But once you realize how important play is to your sense of well-being, you'll find a way.

Do I Play?

If you had asked me this a few months ago, I would have said: "not really". But after thinking about it, I realized that my answer would have been wrong. I tend to think a little too seriously about things. Once I reframed my thoughts on play (not just sports, but anything I'm doing simply because I enjoy it), I realized I play more than I thought! I love to read, do yoga, garden, cook, etc. Yes, there is a benefit from these, but even if there wasn't, I would do it anyway. That's how I know it's 'play'.

However, I also realized that there are other ways I would like to play, and therefore, I need to reevaluate how I spend my time to be sure I'm prioritizing play enough. To do that, I have been carving out just 30 minutes a few times a week for additional play and I'm loving it!

Please Play

I invite you to think about ways you might enjoy playing. Look at your schedule and set aside a little bit of time each week for play. If that seems overwhelming, start small. Put time for play on your calendar just one day a week. Then slowly amp it up and add in some time on other days! Soon you'll be a playing fool.

Almost anything can be considered play if you do it simply for pleasure. What is your favorite way to play?

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Jun 06, 2023

One of the ways we play is by putting music on and dancing around the kitchen. Sometimes with the kids but also just the two of us. Then sometimes just alone and singing my heart out!

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