Treat Yourself, You’ll Live Longer

 

All work and no play doesn’t just make Jack a dull boy; it also makes him a less healthy one.  For grown-ups, the concept of play and the very idea of taking time to have fun for the sheer joy of it often gets pushed to the bottom of the commitment pile, already heaped high with work, dirty laundry, paying bills and family needs.

Sure, you tell yourself that you’re a responsible adult and don’t have time for any of that fun stuff. But what if playing made you healthier as well as happier, and better able to give more fully to others as well as yourself? If you think having fun is nothing more than a guilty pleasure, think again. It is also a stress reducer, able to boost both brain and body function and make you happier and more productive. If you’re ready to jump in the pool and have some fun, read on. 

Live, Love, Laugh

Those words seem to be everywhere these days, from needlepoint pillows to Pinterest boards. More than just a simplistic platitude, it is also a proactive call for adults to go play. Laughing and loving can be difficult to do if you’re not having fun and building playtime into your life. Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and play researcher at The National Institute for Play, has found that playtime for adults supports human development and intelligence as well as the ability to enjoy life more.  According to Dr. Brown, the more play adults experience, the more intelligence they gain.    

Playing Your Way to the Fountain of Youth 

Brown’s research is backed up by non-profit mental and emotional health organization, Helpguide.org. According to Helpguide, playing supports adult mental health and creativity, boosting both problem-solving skills and the power of imagination. Just as children use playtime as a means to achieve motor skills and brain development, so can adults benefit from increased levels of play during the day. Playtime keeps grown-ups energized and youthful. According to The National Institute for Play, playtime is a basic, natural phenomenon, akin to sleep and dreaming, and as necessary for the body and brain to function as a whole, keeping us younger and more vital longer.

Playtime provides grownups with a much needed escape, even if it is only for a half hour at a time. Helpguide.org recommends spending at least some playtime with others, be it your dog, children or spouse, and also strongly recommends making playtime about physical activity instead of a screen-centric pursuit. It may be fun to watch a movie with your loved ones, but set aside some time to create laughter another way, be it by playing charades or touch football.

Additional benefits of play include:

  • Self-replenishment
  • Boosted productivity and innovation
  • Less burnout
  • Better relationships with others
  • Higher levels of social interaction and teamwork, both at home and on the job
  • More satisfaction with life

Play can heal all (emotional) wounds

Play can also heal emotional wounds. When adults indulge in playing together, they are re-creating patterns of behavior similar to those known to positively shape brain function in children. Playful behavior in adults can go a long way toward increasing emotional health and eliminating feelings of insecurity and worthlessness. 

Not convinced? Make a phone call, find a friend and set aside some time for an adult play date at a museum or the mall. Go for a nature walk with your four-legged friend or turn up the music loud and dance with your honey. Whatever playtime means to you, set aside the obligations and indulge, just once. Chances are, you’ll find yourself smiling and feeling more energized than you have in a long time. Playtime is contagious, too. The happier and more playful you feel, the more you will spread that energy to others. So go ahead. Playtime isn’t just an indulgence, it’s a necessary, good-for-you life tool. Plus, you deserve it!