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THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Play is not just fun for children. It is necessary for EVERYONE.



Play allows us to use our creativity and strengthen our imagination; our imagination inspires our reality.


“Your personality will change. It is SUPPOSED to change with your growth. Personal(ity) growth. Play helps you find the things that light you up. The things that you can lean on when feeling low. It can become a tool to find your north star. If you are not playing every day- what are you doing?"

Please take one moment before you dive into the fun filled content below to reflect on:

When was the last time you played? What were you doing? How did you feel?


PLAY FOR THE LITTLE ONES


"Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength." (from The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds- link below*) Play allows children to be a master of their universe and to learn to explore and experiment in a safe environment. Also, in my opinion, the laugh of children playing is one of the most beautiful sounds there is. It is raw and full of joy and imagination. My heart cannot help but smile when I hear it.


*For an in-depth, scientifically researched look at play / early development check out this article:


As a Voice Dialogue Facilitator (shadow work modality), this safe environment is exactly what we co-create while meeting with our own inner children. It is a vital part of the process and in this space play, love, compassion, and healing become available.



PLAY FOR US ALL


Play for adults is just as critical as play for the young. It reconnects us with that part of ourselves that knows limitlessness. It moves that stuck and stagnant energy that keeps us from being inspired enough to get off the couch.


*Side bar* I am not shaming the couch or being on it AT ALL. I love and am incredibly grateful for my couch. I would never disrespect her like that. It is all about balance and freedom. Now, if the couch has you hostage (let's be real, it's the TV that has you hostage) and your mind is in a sea of low thoughts- this is the moment I am referring to. Get up and MOVE that energy, boo! Put your favorite playlist on, turn off your brain, and let your body and soul dance.


"Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. Play has also been shown to trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells.


"One of the things that may often stop us from playing is that we, as adults, get very set on who we are and the types of activities that we do and do not like. But play is healthy and fun, so it benefits us to figuratively—or literally—roll the dice and allow play back into our lives."


ENDORPHINS

n. Peptides that activate the body's opiate receptors causing a analgesic effect (pain relieving effect for the peripheral or central nervous system (CNS))

Know to: reduce pain, boost pleasure, and feelings of well-being

Released by: Stress, pain, exercise, eating


CEREBRAL CORTEX

n. The outer layer of our brain that has a wrinkled appearance

Known for: sight, hearing, smell, and sensation, and controls higher functions such as speech, thinking, and memory

Serves as: thought and control center


BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor)

n. Protein that is found in the brain and spinal cord

Known for: promoting the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation, and maintenance of these cells

Serves to: help regulate cell to cell communication (synaptic plasticity) which aids learning and memory



One of my personal reasons to CONSCIOUSLY play every day is, well, all the above, and mostly because it's fun. It brings me joy. I find it hard to feel stuck while I am playing. Playing has many faces and little rules (except maybe safety), and it aids in self-exploration.


Self-exploration is the key here. This may sound kind of radical so take a moment and think about it if the next statement activates you.


Your personality will change. It is SUPPOSED to change with your growth. Personal(ity) growth. (See Blog: The Pointy People and Why they are Important if you are curious about this view on personality) Play helps you find the things that light you up. The things that you can lean on when feeling low. It can become a tool to find your north star. If you are not playing every day- what are you doing? What does your everyday look like? Do you enjoy your day? Are you just getting up, going to work, zom-being when you get home (because you are so burnt out energetically), then going to bed just to repeat this process tomorrow?


If that last bit landed for you. You need a little play in your life.



EXAMPLES OF PLAY


It is never too late to reconnect with your playful side. You can play with others AND you can play by yourself. The possibilities are endless. In truth, you can see anything as play. It's really all about your perspective and what fills you with joy.

Below are a few examples to help jump start your imagination.

  • Dance

  • Art (create or observe)

  • Host a game night

  • Play with a pet

  • Tell a joke

  • Be outside

  • Talk to a child and let your imaginations play together

  • Meditate

  • Go on a walk

  • Read a book

  • Play a role playing game (D&D)

  • Go to a park

  • Learn something new

  • Pick up a old hobby

  • Participate in a sport

  • Try out/ pick up an instrument

  • Create a social media post about your favorite topic

It is important to schedule in time for play when you are reconnecting with this side of you. The possibilities are endless, and this can get overwhelming. Getting overwhelmed, especially at first, is perfectly normal and OK. We all know "life" can happen if we do not put our self-care into our schedule, so schedule out some time and start by doing the first thing that comes to your mind. You have got this. Prioritize yourself and allow yourself to be free (even if it's only for that 30 minutes you scheduled out.)


For a more in depth look at play for adults check out the below article


As always, thank you for reading. I hope you found value and inspiration. Your energy is valuable, and I appreciate you spending the time here. Sending you love and gratitude.


-Shaina


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