Play is too important to be left only to children, says Jennifer Wallace in the May 23 issue of the Washington Post Health Section. “It offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes the player out of a sense of time and place, and the experience of doing it is more important than the outcome.” We are all wired by evolution to play.
We know it. We can feel it. After a long stretch of work and no play, we are more than worn out, we are sucked dry. Play fills us back up. And it works best if we drink from that well regularly rather than waiting until we’re parched and completely dehydrated. Better to sip rather than guzzle.
Not everyone plays alike.
- Some enjoy outwardly messing around with friends, colleagues and relatives.
- Some are just generally light-hearted and unconcerned about appraisals of behavior or future consequences.
- Some like to play with thoughts and ideas
- Some enjoy whimsy and unusual things.
Your play style may not be my play style, but we all need to play. It not only breaks up the tedium and gives us some rest, but it restores and rejuvenates. Our brains are freed to explore and imagine on new wave lengths, and our bodies are released to express themselves and get some much needed movement! That boosted blood flow is good for heart, brain, body and soul.
What kind of play do you like?
What do you do that so engages you that you lose all sense of time?
As children, this comes naturally. As adults, this may take a conscious effort. It’s not wasted time. It’s actually creative time. Or it can be, when dosed appropriately. When we’re frazzled by stress and anxiety, we tend toward oblivion: take me away from all this…. Perhaps our addictions and the recent opioid epidemic have their roots there. That is chemistry that makes us think we feel better by not feeling at all.
But play is nature’s remedy to this. We crave it and long for it. Our minds and bodies know we need it in regular small doses, as we would take a vitamin. It’s meant to right our chemistry and balance our outlook.
If exercise is medicine, play is balm. Take some regularly for good health and a long life.