Learn to play more, it will save your life!
Category: Wellness, Career, Personal.
This topic is very close to my heart. I spent way too much time believing there was something wrong with me for needing to exercise, move and play around in my day.
I had a couple of experiences where I was made to feel like I could not take time in my day to chat, goof around, make jokes and go for short walks during my day to get out of my work space.
My very first manager laughed in my face when I was intending on heading out to a league tennis match at 7 pm on a Friday night, sending me a message that my health and wellbeing was not being taken seriously and that I had no right to it.
After spending 12 years going against every instinct in my body and brain, I’ve finally given myself the space and the courage to allow myself to get curious, travel without a fixed itinerary through South America and just play, try new things, explore!
I finally found someone else who is even more passionate about play as I am. He spent years researching PLAY and the impact it has on the brain, our intuition, creation, solution finding capability and soul. HIs name is Stuart Brown. And I’m passionate about sharing my own learnings as well as his insight which confirms everything I’ve ever felt and followed. This is part of my philosophy on life.
THE LESSONS I’VE LEARN’T ABOUT PLAYING AS AN ADULT
Become aware of the underlying beliefs and culture around play as an adult
In Brown’s book he speaks about how in adulthood we start to feel guilty for playing. We get taught to feel that it is a waste of time, unproductive , even sinful. We are left with organized league matches with the aim of winning. And if its not productive, doesn’t teach us something or give us a feeling of winning then it’s not worth it. Even the sheer pressure of daily living prevents us from playing.
The true definition of play is purposeless, all-consuming, and fun. But as Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition.
Play when done just for the fun will energize and enliven you
The other day I climbed this tree just because it looked fun to climb and sit up higher to see the view from up top. PLAYING is un-organized, spontaneous and doesn’t serve any other purpose than FUN and purposelessness. But the benefits are unaccounted for. The most powerful thing about PLAY is the intense pleasurability. The energy it gives us and ways in which it enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our sense of optimism and opens us up to new solutions and possibilities. Now that is a free and enlightening anti-depressant drug if I never heard of one!
A lack thereof results in serious health consequences
Based on his research findings a lack in play can result in increased depression, decreased immune system and stress-related diseases.
I’m convinced that most of my health problems are due to a serious lack of play. The level of stress we carry daily working the way we do. The never-ending attempts at trying to respond and please everyone, not just in front of us, but connected to us via email, WhatsApp and any other means we have going on.
PLAY is the one thing that can really help in building a resilience and strength to get through what we need to get through on a daily basis.
Physically the result of play increases dopamine as well as Serotonin which is a stabilizer for positive moods and contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being.
South America is teaching me how to play
On my travels I’m experiencing such a culture of play here in Brazil and all over South America. They are really masters of play time. From dancing for hours in the streets to extreme sports such as surfing, high lining (Picture on left), acre-yoga’ing and so much more! All of this builds real connection in a world where we have lost that ability.
Play builds resilience for the tough situations in life
Life is hard, we all have struggles. There is an underlying belief in our culture to not allow ourselves to feel joyful for too long for the fear of it all going to shit! But the one key to living a happier healthier life is allowing those silly, fun, happy moments to sink into your body, to allow those feelings to be absorbed by every part of your senses to build up a resilience for when the shit hits the fan.
I am more creative and innovative when I goof off
Something I used to do working in a high pressured environment was to signal to my co-worker and very good friend to head outdoors onto the grass, remove our shoes and attempt at cartwheels and handstands. Anything to get our bodies moving after sitting at a desk for hours. The blood flow moving down to our heads also helps as well as the silliness and purposeless behind it all! It would bring us back to our desks refreshed, energized and more capable of finding solutions to problems.
On my travel journey I’m experiencing more and more how the younger generation are taking time to play, try new things in life and business, sustainable for the earth and new generations which is very inspiring to see and be a part of. It’s really becoming a community of global travelers who incorporate sustainable living, knowledge sharing and experiencing play and adventure to keep them motivated, connected and building resilience.
The way you played as a child is likely similar to how you play as an adult
The most positive and engaging relationships I’ve been a part of including much laughing, being silly and goofing around just for the fun of it. One of the best memories as a child is of me and my brother play wrestling as if we were WWE wrestlers! :)
I still love to play around and wrestle whomever I can find who might play along!
Playing as an adult might look very different than a child, but it's similar. Here is how you can learn to play again.
Look back at your play history and background growing up.
What were the activities that brought you joy, excitement, and enthusiasm?
Play can mean snorkeling, scrapbooking or solving crossword puzzles; it's anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing where ideas are born. You choose. Maybe you want to play around and try various things bringing some curiosity and variety into your life! Nothing wrong with that either! Hopefully the pictures in this post bring some inspiration and ideas of PLAY!
Be a leader and play daily
It’s not enough to set out play for a week of vacation once a year. Have un-scheduled time in your day where you allow for spontaneity, things to just happen without planning them or expecting a result. Play is vital almost every day in smaller doses to have a real impact on our health and productivity. Innovation and creativity stem from play, being allowed to try things, making mistakes.
If you’re a dance teacher, allow 10 min for un choreographed free style dancing. If you’re a manager of a team, allow time in the week, even if it’s just an hour for play time with ideas and obstacles. Allow mistakes, learning and growth. That is a form of play in itself. It motivates innovation and solutions finding when a team is encouraged to try things, allowed to make mistakes and learn from them!
1. What is one thing you used to love doing when you were a kid?
2. How can you incorporate just 10 min / day of play into your life?
Let me know down below and I can hold you accountable.