Woman Blowing BubblesMost parents and teachers can attest to the benefits of play for children. It stimulates their minds and bodies and helps them grow. What many people forget is that the need for play doesn't end with childhood. Adults also need to take time to relax and have fun. 

Reasons To Make Time for Play

Between family, work, church and civic responsibilities, you already have a pretty full schedule. Actually setting aside time for play may seem silly at best. Adding restorative fun to your life can make the rest of your time more productive, though. The National Institute for Play identifies four main benefits of making play a regular part of your routine at any age:

  • Boost health
  • Improve relationships
  • Enhance learning
  • Increase innovation

Making play a priority is part of self-care, which means it also fortifies you to help others. The better you feel physically, the more energy you are likely to have to complete your daily task list. If you have a frequent outlet for stress relief, you are likely to enjoy more playful interactions in your relationships. Play helps you maintain curiosity for learning new things and thwart any tendency to become complacent or stagnant. Finally, a playful work environment can spark new ideas and help employers match team members with tasks where they can use their strengths and passions.

Different Ways To Play

The type of activity that most people think of when they consider play is something involving physical movement. Have regular dance parties. Turn date night into dance night, or involve the whole family by pushing back the furniture in the living room and turning on some fun music. Join a sports league or a paintball team. Sign up with the local running club to train for a race. Just getting outside for a walk every morning or going on weekend hikes helps you stay on the move.

Not all play involves movement, though. Stimulating your mind and finding people who share your passions can ignite creativity and joy. If you are an avid reader, you can probably find a book club through a local bookstore or library, or you can start your own. People who like to cook can host regular potluck dinners with like-minded others where you share good food and recipes. However, you don't have to wait for someone else to share your hobby with. You can build model trains or airplanes, work on puzzles, play games or get involved with any other hobby by yourself at your convenience.

How To Incorporate Play Into Your Schedule

Once you've picked what you're going to do, all you have to do is make time for it. This can be easier said than done, though. New habits, even fun ones, aren't easy to get started. You may have to schedule it just like you would any other appointment, particularly at first. If you are feeling ambitious, set aside a minimum time each day for play, and track how often you meet your goal. After a few months, you may decide to expand the schedule or have more time focused on the weekends. Once you have incorporated play into your mindset as a necessary part of your life, you may be surprised how easy it is to think of ideas where the whole family can have fun.

Play comes naturally to children, but as people grow older, they sometimes forget how important it is to balance responsibility with a substantial measure of fun. Start with a hobby you know you love, and put it on the calendar. Finding ways to make play a part of your everyday life can improve your health, relationships, work and overall happiness.

Category: Health and Wellness

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