It's common knowledge that children need and benefit greatly from play, but as adults we often forget that playing can help us as well. Somewhere along the way, most adults lose the urge to play. It's easy to get caught up in the stressors of life and we forget to take time to do things "for fun" instead of just accomplishment, especially when life gets busy and the only thing on your mind is to survive the work day.
However, it makes sense to consider making a conscious effort to let loose and embrace your playful side once you look at all of the benefits that play can provide in adulthood.
Benefits of Play for Adults
Stress Relief - "Laughter is the best medicine!" Play is enjoyable because it triggers endorphins which are the body's natural "feel good" hormones. These cause an overall sense of well-being and can even relieve pain temporarily.
Improved Brain Function - "If you don't use it, you lose it!" Playing board games, doing puzzles, or engaging in other fun activities that challenge your brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. What's more, the social interaction of playing with others can also help relieve and stave off stress and depression.
Increased Creativity - Young children are naturally drawn to play, and are said to learn best when they are playing and having fun. There is no reason that this principle can't apply to adults too. After all, as humans we all learn better when the situation is enjoyable. Play can also stimulate creativity, helping you to better adapt and solve problems.
Improved Relationships and Connections - Laughing and having fun with one another can cultivate empathy, compassion, trust, and even intimacy. Play doesn’t have to include a specific task or activity; it can also be a perspective. Having a playful attitude about life can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Immunity Boost - Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your immune system, helping you function at your best.
Increased Productivity - Taking a break to be playful is one of the best ways you can help your professional side. When you get at a difficult point in the work you're doing, take some time to relax and have a few laughs. Taking a break for play does a lot more than take your mind off the problem at hand. When you play, you put your creative side of your brain to work and quiet the psychological barrier that censors your most raw and creative thoughts and ideas. This can often help you see the challenge in a new light and think up fresh, creative solutions.
From getting on the floor to play with your child, grandchild or pet, to breaking out a board game, doing a fun round of trivia with friends, telling jokes or playing fun pranks on each other. You are never too old to PLAY! In fact, NOT playing will only make you age faster -- or at least make you feel like you are!