Why you should be playing more - no matter what your age!

I love a good obscure, little known “holiday”! 

Some are a little over the top, like “Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day” (January 22, in case you want to celebrate it next year.)

But some of those “holidays” get me thinking about something that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise - but for it being the “National Day of Whatever.”

So this week on May 21 we celebrate - get ready for it - “Take Your Parents to the Playground Day.” I know, a bit random, isn’t it? 

But I love this one for so many reasons:

  1.  If you have kids, it’s important to spend time with them. Ideally, you are fully present with them - no phones, no email. And assuming you are playing with your kids while you are at the playground, it would be hard to be anything but present with them. Nurturing your special relationships and connecting with those you love is critical to social and emotional well-being.

  2.  Whether or not you have kids, playing is so good for your well-being. It can be deeply rejuvenating to play a little bit, whatever that looks like to you. Maybe it’s sliding down a slide or pumping your legs to get the swing to go higher and higher. Maybe it’s the giggle of sitting opposite someone on a teeter-totter. Whatever it is, play is good for your heart, physically and emotionally as it relieves stress, energizes you, and does so much more. 

  3.  Nature and being outside is always a boost to your well-being. “Experiments have found that being exposed to natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control.” Not only that, but “contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress.” Read more here.)

Want to read more about the profound benefits of play for adults? Check out this article!

Life and work are full of demands, and taking a few minutes to play brings us back to the present, builds our relationships, connects us with the beauty of nature and the power of natural sunlight, and gives our brains an oh-so-needed break.

So find some time this week to play - by yourself, with friends, or with family. 

Maybe it’s as easy as finding a park on your way home from work and jumping on the slide or a swing. Maybe you decide to go with a friend or your kids. Whatever you choose to do, remember there are many, many benefits to taking the time to play - so don’t think of it as “wasting time.” 

As D.W. Winnicott, the British pediatrician, said, “It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” 

The time you spend playing builds well-being physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually - sounds like time well spent!