When was the last time you set aside time to play? Can you remember?
As adults, we often think that playtime is just for children. We have fond memories of playing our favorite games and sports when we were little, but now that we’re grown up, it’s time to work, right?
That may not be entirely true. It turns out, adults need playtime just as much as kids! As we grow older and busier and we take on more and more responsibility in our lives, it becomes essential to allow time for play. Your inner child needs that time to learn, heal, and grow. Playtime teaches us how to become more creative, and it keeps us younger longer.
The problem is, too many of us forget how to play. We forget how to have fun! That’s why today, we’re taking a little time to talk about why adult playtime is so important. We’ll look at the facts and share why you should schedule some playtime for yourself. We hope this post inspires and encourages you to get in touch with your inner child and enjoy some playtime today. Ready to get started?
What Is Play?
When you think of “playing,” what comes to mind? You might think of playing a sport when you were a child. You might remember a favorite toy or game you liked years ago. But how does that translate into adulthood?
As an adult, you may not want to pull out your old Barbie dolls or Hot Wheels, but you can still find ways to play that you enjoy now. Jeff Harry, a speaker and consultant who advocates for enjoying playtime as an adult defines play as “any joyful act where you forget about time, where there is no purpose/result, [and] where you are entirely enveloped in the process.” That means any activity that you truly enjoy and that you don’t do for any specific result counts as play!
What activities give you that kind of joy? What do you do purely for the fun of it? It could be playing a board game with your friends or family. Maybe you enjoy going outside and playing with your dog. Perhaps you like a physical activity like surfing, golfing, or cycling. Whatever it is, if you enjoy it, it’s play!
The tricky thing is to let your playtime be all about play — not about competition or receiving anything other than the joy of doing something for the fun of it. That’s why it’s important to be particularly careful when it comes to playing sports for your playtime. If you’re focused more on being stronger, faster, or better than others, that’s not playtime. You want your focus to be on pure enjoyment and living in the moment.
That’s why it’s important to toss out all the rules and shake up your routine and mindset when it comes to playing. It’s great to play a sport or participate in an activity you like, but it’s also good to experiment and try something new. If you’ve never been fishing before, now could be the time to try it!
Maybe for you, that new thing could be gardening, baking, flower arranging, cloud watching, playing an instrument, reading a book, or any number of other things. Be creative and try something new! The possibilities are endless, and there is no shortage of new activities you can try. The idea is to find something that lights you up — something you can do without needing to get anything other than pure enjoyment.
This is where boredom can become a huge blessing. If you experience moments of boredom, those can be moments when you think outside the box and try something you might not have done before. If you have children, we encourage you to follow their lead — what do they do when they have free time? And even if you don’t have children, find a way to get in touch with your inner child — what makes them happy?
Wait, What’s All This About an “Inner Child?”
When we think about our inner child, we remember the warm anticipation of Christmas morning (or any other holiday you celebrate that holds a special place in your heart). Do you remember that feeling — the magic and wonder of the Christmas season? In those days, it was all about warm mugs of hot chocolate, always hoping for snow, staying up late to catch a glimpse of Santa, and that joyful rush of Christmas morning and the experience of opening gifts with our families. Do you remember how exciting and magical everything felt at Christmas time when you were a little kid?
Unfortunately, we tend to forget about that feeling as we grow up. When we’re children, the world feels like a magical place, full of new things for us to learn. But when we become adults, we lose that sense of authentic joy. We find ourselves weighed down by the responsibilities and burdens of everyday life. Jobs, bills, challenging relationships, frustrating experiences, and mental health struggles add up over time, and we all too easily lose touch with that sense of child-like wonder we can remember from years past.
Friends, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like that. That little kid you remember — the one who looked forward to Christmas more than anything else in the world — is still there. You carry your inner child with you for your entire life, and you can never lose them completely. They will always be a part of you, and you always have the opportunity to get in touch with them again.
The best way to do that is through play. By scheduling even just a few minutes a day for a little playtime, you can get in touch with your inner child and experience the same joy and wonder that they did.
Of course, not all of our inner children are feeling as warm and fuzzy as we just described. The unfortunate truth is that many of us carry wounds from our childhoods that never fully healed. Maybe you experienced trauma as a child, and you still feel that pain even today. Maybe your inner child struggles with low self-esteem, a fear of failure, or anger leftover from your past negative experiences. If your inner child is hurting, we can promise that you’re not alone.
But there’s good news: Playtime can teach you how to heal your inner child. If you’re carrying wounds from your past, playtime could be exactly the remedy you need.
Now, that’s not to say it’s not important to seek the help and advice of a trusted mental health professional. If you’re struggling with trauma or anxiety from your past, we encourage you to reach out to a counselor or therapist who can help you recover from those issues.
But don’t make the mistake of undervaluing play when it comes to healing! Getting in touch with your unique sense of authentic joy can absolutely help heal your inner child. By bringing out your inner childlike qualities through playtime, you give yourself the chance to experience that true joy and wonder you missed as a kid, and you open up new possibilities for greater enjoyment in life in the future.
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But How Exactly Does Play Improve My Health?
There are plenty of ways that playtime can improve both your mental and physical health as an adult. The most obvious way is through simple physical activity. Even when you aren’t in the gym and following a specific workout pattern or training for athletic competition, just by moving your body, you’re getting exercise.
That movement can only be good for you. Just by moving your body, you can strengthen your heart, boost your lung capacity, and reduce your cortisol levels. A short walk, a quick bike ride, or even a few minutes of running around your yard with your dog can be enough to reduce stress and increase endorphins — those hormones that make you feel happy and relaxed.
And that’s not all! Playtime doesn’t have to be all about physical activity. The truth is, any kind of play can have incredible effects on your mental health. The simple act of laughter can release your feel-good hormones just like physical exercise, boosting your mood and lowering your stress level.
Additionally, especially as we get older, play improves cognition and gives us a serious boost in creativity. Have you ever noticed that taking a short break during the workday can actually help you boost your productivity later? That’s because giving your brain a break enables you to approach your work from a new perspective and practice your problem-solving skills.
Not only that but incorporating play into the way you work can have a massive impact on productivity. When you’re fully immersed in play, that’s when you’re actually able to access your flow state. When you’re in a flow state, you are concentrated, productive, and you’re able to work more quickly, efficiently, and happily than ever. That’s why play is important, even in the workplace.
So How Can I Play More in My Life?
We’re so glad you asked! The good news is that incorporating more play into your life doesn’t have to be difficult. There are very simple ways you can start playing more in your life right now. Here are just a few examples:
- Host a game night, or plan an activity with friends, family, or coworkers.
- Schedule time to go to a park and ride a bike, fly a kite, or play with your pets.
- Tell some jokes! When you approach friends and even strangers with a sense of humor, you inject a little bit of fun and playtime into your day and theirs.
- Take a class and learn something new. Interested in dance or pottery or photography? Check online to see if there are classes for adults in your area.
- Keep small toys or brain teasers at your desk at work.
- Pick up your favorite book from when you were little and give it a re-read.
When it comes to finding new ways to play, the sky is truly the limit. So ask yourself — what makes you happy? What activities do you enjoy doing? When was the last time you got so wrapped up in having fun that you forgot about your worries, and how can you recreate that experience?
Maybe for you, playtime is all about getting together with others and spending time in your community, or maybe you’d prefer to schedule some solo playtime to rest and recenter yourself instead. Whatever you need to do to incorporate more play into your life, we encourage you to do it! The benefits are huge, and you never know what incredible things you’ll be able to accomplish with the clarity and healing that comes from playing.
Ready to Play?
Friends, we hope this post encouraged you and inspired you to get out there and play. Playtime is an essential part of life even into adulthood, and the potential for joy and happiness it can create in your life is limitless. Whether you want to try something new, pick up something old, or engage with family and friends around you, playtime has the power to improve your health, boost your creativity, and help you live a life of greater joy than ever before!
Sound good? We think so! So if you’re ready to get in touch with your authentic joy, schedule in some playtime for yourself today. Remember, it doesn’t have to be much — even just a few minutes a day is enough to start seeing the benefits.
Now, are you ready to play?