The Importance Of Play In Adulthood – Adults Can Play Too!
I have focused a lot of children on this website, let’s face it when we think of playing we instantly think of children and toys and the playground. However, how many of us enjoy games consoles, cards, darts, football, tennis, puzzles, etc. It may not really occur to us but playing anything from Call of Duty to a pub quiz; it is all a form of play really.
In addition, let us be honest, we have all got a bit carried away when testing/ helping our kid with a new toy. I have many fond memories of Christmas when I was a child of my cousin and me watching my uncles playing with our toys.
Play in adulthood
Adults can gain just as many benefits from playing as children, and we can be just as childish when doing. As adults we may like to believe that we know better than children but you just have to watch a group of adults during the world cup or a couple of adults playing a game of FIFA and it will suddenly be like being in the playground again.
As adults, we have so much pressure to be responsible, to be professional, and to know absolutely everything about everything. It is no wonder that sometimes, in our own time we can take great pleasure in switching off and playing a game. There is nothing wrong with it, in fact, it is essential.
There are too many people out there who view adults playing games, any games, as childish or unproductive, or something that should be looked down on. The truth is you can still be a fully functional member of society who pays their taxes, runs a home, brings up kids, and is successful and still find time to play with Lego (have you seen some of the Lego sets, definitely designed with an adult in mind).
Why should adults play
Adults should play for one simple reason, it reduce stress and improves mental health. As I mentioned above, adult life is stressful, it’s full of constant pressure, and frankly, it’s really boring.
By allowing ourselves the luxury to wind down and play, we are looking after ourselves.
Once more through play you can build connections with people, you can form relationships. The internet is full of communities who come together due to a shared passion. You have communities for all sorts of things. In addition, the power of technology means that people can play games with people from across the world!
Not only are you reducing your stress levels, you are making friends. Suddenly your boss being a so and so is not quite so important anymore!
What benefits are there?
In addition to relieving stress and forming relationships, play also
- Enhances brain functions
- Boosts your creativity
- Decreases or improves feelings of depression/ anxiety
So overall, I think it’s safe to say that play is very good for us.
What can I play?
This is such a broad subject and really, the answer is anything. What do you like? What are your interests? Who do you have around you?
If you do not like sport then I really wouldn’t recommend taking up rugby, just like if you do not know how to use a computer I wouldn’t recommend The Sims. However, if you like, card games and you have a PC then I highly recommend Solitaire, I have wasted a lot of time on Solitaire.
As a starting point, however why not try –
Colouring – it may not seem like a play and it may not be something you’ve done since you were a child but colouring is extremely relaxing and also satisfying
Playing with building blocks/ Lego/ model kits – these can be great as not only will you be problem solving, you can feel productive, and they can also form as a long term project
Playing outside – sports, water fights, snow fights, play fights, go to the beach and paddle in the sea or make a sandcastle – it doesn’t matter what you do just get outside and have fun!
Play equipment – you can go to your park or even soft play, you may feel better doing this if you have a little one – however, for those of you that don’t have little people there are some places that even do soft play just for adults!
Dancing – you don’t have to do proper lessons or a club, you can dance around your living room or whilst making dinner or cleaning the house – it doesn’t matter just stick some music on and have fun!
Appreciate nature – remember as children you could spend hours staring at the clouds or watching bird or insects – build a bug hotel or make a daisy chain
Watch children’s TV/ movies – it is actually amazing how much children’s entertainment has both changed and NOT changed but I must admit I do have some favourite children’s shows/ movies that my son watches, it’s not all bad but there are some that I hate – it’s also nice to go back and watch some of the things you use to watch as a child, some of them my son also loves and some of them he clearly hates
Group games – this could be anything from puzzles/ board games to party games or even the local pub quiz or something like darts or pool – you could even invite some friends over and play the XBox or Playstation or whatever console you have
Ride a bike – this can not only be fun but also practical – I haven’t rode a bike since I was a kid but I know from those that do still own a bike that they find it really relaxing – I may consider investing in one just for the feeling of freedom
How can I play?
If your sit there wondering how you can fit play into your life, well I suppose you should start with changing your mindset.
Think of playing as something that is essential for a healthy life, it is right up there with eating your 5 a day and drinking plenty of water. Once you start placing play as an essential of life, you will probably find it easy to fit into your life. If you can find time to eat and drink, you will find time to play. You can also incorporate play into something you already do; if you are interest in health and fitness then try out different sports.
Surround yourself with people who like to play, this doesn’t necessary have to be little people. There are many adults who are quite naturally playful and where play comes natural to them, some may say that they never grew up.
Whether it’s surrounding yourself with big kids or actual kids, being around being who know how to play will make play seem more ‘normal’.