The Happiness Connection  

Play time is not just for kids, adults can benefit too

The importance of play

In my experience, it is almost impossible to be around water without some level of play entering the experience.

Knowing you can dowse someone with a hose, get pulled into a pool or help another person brave the cold water of a lake a little more quickly than they would have chosen to if left to their own devices, is almost always accompanied by lots of laughter and banter.

I was reminded of this when I was invited to join a friend’s family reunion houseboat holiday. I found myself being used as a human shield against a water gun attack, wrestled a few people off the ladder of the boat and laughed so much it was hard to stay afloat without a floatie.

It was an incredible time to reconnect.

Most people know the importance of play when it comes to children. It teaches them all sorts of skills. But did you know that play is equally important for adults?

Play helps:

• Improve brain function

• Boost creativity

• Relieve stress

• Keep you feeling young and energetic

• Improve relationships

• Teach cooperation

• Heal emotional wounds

• Improve social skills

• Keep relationships fresh and exciting

• Resolve conflict

With so many benefits, it’s amazing somewhere between childhood and adulthood most people stop playing. When you carve out some time for you, it’s likely to involve collapsing in front of the TV or picking up your favourite electronic device.

This may allow you to zone out of the challenges of life, but it doesn’t provide the benefits you get from playing. To achieve these you need to participate in the types of activities you enjoyed as a child.

For example, you could:

• Dress up for Halloween or a theme party

• Share a joke

• Throw a frisbee

• Build a snowman or make a snow angel

• Play in the lake

There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond enjoying yourself. For the greatest benefit, choose something that involves at least one other person and doesn’t include electronics. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it gives you a chance to embrace your playful side.

For many people, the biggest hurdle to overcome is finding time. With so many things vying for your attention, how can you make playing a priority? Start by reminding yourself of the many benefits it provides.

Consciously choose times and write them in your calendar. Make them sacred and do everything in your power to protect them from being canceled, including turning off your phone.

Some people worry they’ll be labeled as childish if they show their child-like nature. I recommend letting go of that concern. Children are naturally playful. Childhood is a time of incredible creativity and learning. What’s so wrong with that?

Instead of fretting about what other people might think, reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. If you feel inhibited, remember the more you do it, the easier it will become and the more comfortable you will feel.

Rejuvenate yourself by taking time to play. One of the best ways to do this is to surround yourself with playful people. They’ll make you laugh until your sides ache and your cheeks hurt.

It will remind you that laughter is definitely the best medicine.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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