Playing isn’t just for kids
Without structured time like recess, adults typically don’t spend a lot of time playing. However, play might be a crucial factor in your overall well-being.
“Play is doing something that you enjoy. It does not necessarily mean a certain type of physical movement,” says Lindsey Polke, a behavioral health nurse practitioner at Advocate Health Care. “It can be anything that brings enjoyment into your life.”
According to the National Institute for Play (NIFP), play is a state of mind while doing an activity that provides enjoyment and suspends time.
“Play is an important aspect of our emotional well-being,” she adds. The NIFP says the need for play is as fundamental as the need for food or sleep. You’re wired to play.
“Play can improve physical and emotional health. It can also help strengthen or form new relationships,” Polke explains. Other benefits of play include:
- Improving stress management.
- Refreshing your mind and body.
- Preventing burnout.
- Increasing energy.
- Inspiring creativity and innovation.
“Play can be social or physical, but it depends on your preference and personality type,” Polke notes. What play is for you might not be play for someone else.
The NIFP developed eight different play personalities:
- The collector. You like collecting certain objects such as mugs or ticket stubs.
- The competitor. You enjoy keeping score and playing to win, either as a fan or participant.
- The creator. You like making, building or fixing things such as scrapbooking or restoring a vintage car.
- The director. You enjoy organizing, planning and executing events or other social gatherings.
- The explorer. You like trying, seeing or feeling new things.
- The joker. You like entertaining or being silly.
- The kinesthete. You like playing through
- The storyteller. You enjoy using your imagination such as telling or creating stories.
One or more of these personalities might resonate with you. You can also think back to what activities you enjoyed as a child. These activities don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Coloring a free printable coloring sheet, hosting a game night or taking a five-minute walk can be play.
“By starting small, you can add playtime for as little as 30 minutes per day,” Polke says. “If it is something that you find enjoyment in, you may find yourself wanting to do it more often.”
Adding play to your life is a simple way to greatly improve your overall well-being. When you plan out your upcoming days or weeks, set time aside for play.