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Making Time to Play and Have Fun

Every June when I was a kid, the world felt like it opened up! School was out! No more teachers, no more books….it was the season of FUN!! Summer vacation, whether I went anywhere or not, was all about having time to play with friends, both old and new, and to find new adventures. There was a levity in the air and a sentiment of hope and possibility. In adulthood, I sometimes long to rekindle those feelings, wondering where my spirit for joyful play has gone, and yet I’m reminded it only takes a moment to reconnect with that spirit, when I set that intention.

As we get older, it feels like we lose time for play. Our lives become burdened with schedules, deadlines, commitments and (sometimes) making sure others have time to play. This is a natural course in growing up, of shedding the delight and carefreeness of childhood, exchanging them for responsibility as we make our way in the world as adults. We somehow manage to find ourselves locked in the ‘grind’ of work life, and it may be due to financial commitments, obligations, or even out of sheer enjoyment of our careers. This can easily lead to ‘living for the weekend,’ but then finding we’re fully exhausted and unwilling to go out and do something fun. Yet, if we could intentionally set time for play, for spontaneous, unscripted whimsy, we might find ourselves re-invigorated and our longing desire for our joyful spirit satisfied.

From Dr. Stuart Brown at the National Institute for Play, ‘play is something done for its own sake. It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.’* Finding this time to be out of ‘the grind’ is essential to sustaining health, mobility, an active mind and a youthful spirit. When we play, we engage our processing brain (pre-frontal cortex) and we open ourselves to adaptable ways of thinking, problem-solving, and we strengthen our resilience. And yes, we can get mental stimulation from adult work life, but there is a marked difference with the physical and emotional components of play which release endorphins, promoting overall feelings of joy and wellbeing, and reducing stress and depression.

Take a look at these top 10 reasons for play from The Genius of Play (click the link to their article and read more about the science behind each):

  1. Play Strengthens You

  2. Play Makes You Smarter

  3. Play Helps You Solve Problems

  4. Play Boosts Creativity

  5. Play Reduces Stress

  6. Play Helps You Make Friends

  7. Play Enhances Attractiveness

  8. Play Builds Resilience

  9. Play Promotes Discovery

  10. Play is Fun

By having time for play and experiencing fun, which unites the mind and heart and puts us in a state of curiosity, enjoyment and vitality, we may come back into a more child-like state. With play, we return to that carefreeness and delight, and we feel vibrancy! As someone who lived in Colorado for over 20 years, where most local residents follow the motto ‘work hard, play hard,’ and you can often find bikes or skis worth more than the car they’re perched upon, I can attest that people who continue to find purposeful time for play truly stay and feel younger longer. Most of the population in the Eagle Valley tend to look 15-20 years younger than their age and can keep up with or out-perform others half their age. There may be something to be said about that amazing mountain air too…

As I started, above, making time for play and reconnecting with those feelings of levity and enjoyment (aka FUN) comes from intentionality. It’s the season of summer, a time when we naturally feel more vibrant and ready to engage in outdoor activities. I know I’ll be finding ways to take ‘summer vacation,’ if even for a couple hours in the week, or maybe a full day, and hopefully for a full week. Play is so important to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and it’s a quick way to revitalize across all these aspects of our lives. I wish you the time and the care to make play and fun part of your life, in whichever way fills your heart and leaves you feeling full of more hope and possibility!

‘Youthfulness is not determined by age. It is determined by one’s life force. One who possesses hope is forever young.’ ~ Daisaku Ikeda

By Jen Rizza, Founder Newtown Wellness Collective

Jen is a RYT yoga teacher specializing in Hatha, restorative and yin yoga practices, a Reiki Master Teacher, and internationally certified wellness coach, supporting clients seeking overall greater balance of health, energy and wellbeing in their lives.

Research basis:

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