You don’t think anything of it when you see a child play outside. It seems like the most natural and beautiful thing. All adults know that kids should play, but they starve their inner child–they don’t have the same opinion about themselves for some reason. Not only that, but all grown-ups view playing as a waste of time. Why should they play when they have so many other things to get done in a day?
Well, the answer to that question is more intuitive than you might think. Adults should play because they have so much on their plate. One could even argue that they benefit more than kids from being playful. But unfortunately, we live in a society that’s discouraged and looked down on. So, the only time it’s seen as appropriate for adults to play is when they do it with their kids.
Otherwise, even having a dance party with friends is childish and useless. But, as necessary as it is to be serious and work, it’s also vital to relax. And that doesn’t just mean having a spa day or drinking with colleagues after work. Relaxing can also mean running around, dancing, or playing games. And, more often than not, those activities will make you happier than the fanciest spa treatment ever could. If you don’t play during your free time, here are ten reasons that might convince you to start.
10 Reasons Why Adults Should Still Play
1. Play Relieves Stress
One of the issues that adults deal with most often is stress. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it can come from anywhere. From relationships to work and even hobbies, everything can be stressful. But play can be one of the best ways to alleviate all pent-up stress.
As you probably know, stress can damage your body and mind irreparably. That’s because the hormones released when you are stressed (mainly cortisol) create dangerous imbalances in your body. Of course, stress plays a vital role in small doses. But if you struggle with it often, the repeated release of hormones will cause physical and psychological damage.
For example, stress is linked to a higher risk of cardiac issues. To avoid all these issues, you need to release that stress. When you play, the brain release endorphins, which counteract the effects of cortisol, thus reducing stress levels.
2. It Improves Brain Function
Play isn’t limited to things that people would consider childish. Sure, you can run around and frolic in fields, which has benefits. But you can also engage in games that stimulate the brain. If you think about it, many more games stimulate the brain than you might think.
Playing chess and solving puzzles are just two games that stimulate the brain in that you can engage. Such activities improve your memory and keep your brain sharp. And you don’t even need to be with someone else to play such things. You can always download an app and play it on your phone.
3. Your Inner Child Stimulates the Imagination
Adults don’t have many opportunities to be creative. And their routine is pretty much the same all the time. You go to a stuffy job, get your work done, come back home, eat, watch a movie, and sleep. And the next day, you have to do it all over again. So even if you are lucky and have a nice job, that doesn’t mean your mind is stimulated. Sometimes, even artists or people with creative jobs end up in a rut and feel unimaginative.
Play will always get you out of such ruts. Games allow you to escape reality and find a world where being creative is not something to be afraid of. Being playful will enable you to dream and use your imagination. After all, if you didn’t use your imagination, you’d never be able to mime or draw when playing board games.
4. Play Boosts Your Energy
Indeed, you’ve seen how kids can play for hours and still seem full of energy. And that’s probably something that has always confused you. After all, how can someone run around for hours and seem like they’ll never stop? Well, this energy doesn’t come from the physical side of things. Kids are often physically exhausted when they play. But they draw all their energy from the mental side.
Being playful can improve your energy levels by putting you in a better mood. So, the effects can be seen right away. From the first time you play, you’ll feel the positive effects. And the best part is these effects last all day. Unlike caffeine, which improves energy levels for a couple of hours, after which you’ll feel exhausted, playing is a sustainable way to boost your energy.
5. It’s a Fun Way to Work Out
As you probably know, exercising is vital for a healthy life. But that doesn’t mean it’s always fun, which is why most people avoid doing it. Plus, a gym membership can be expensive, and going to the gym is always intimidating, so finding alternative ways to exercise is good.
Playing can do the job if you lack the motivation to work out. Dancing around the house or running can also burn calories while tapping into your playful side. This way, exercise will no longer feel like a chore. Instead, you’ll have fun while enjoying the benefit of moving around and burning calories. This will improve your mood, metabolism, and other aspects of your health.
6. It Helps You Sleep
You might not believe it, but play is associated with better sleep. These two issues seem unrelated, but it makes sense why one would influence the other. As you know, the body needs to sleep to reset and prepare for the next day. If that didn’t happen, your body would have to use up all resources until there were none left. Still, even though sleep is a vital function, many people struggle with it. And that’s because of the lifestyle they have.
The brain is a key factor in the sleep process. It’s the one who has to signal your body that it’s tired and needs rest. But, in this day and age, people are more and more sedentary. Because of that, at the end of the day, you are probably mentally drained, but not physically. Play can help you use that excess energy, which means the brain can signal the body that it’s tired and it needs to sleep. So, if you want a good rest, always make sure you play before going to bed.
7. It Improves Concentration
Many people have trouble concentrating, mainly because they force themselves to do a tedious task without taking any breaks or doing something fun before. If you wake up and start working immediately, you’ll unlikely be productive. Your mind will wander, and you’ll want to do anything but the task.
Taking time to play before starting a tedious task will always be helpful. Not only will you be in a good mood, but your body will be filled with energy. By doing something fun before working, you’ll keep your mind from drifting. You won’t have to drool over doing something fun because you’d have done it already. Plus, the more relaxed you feel, the easier it’ll be to concentrate.
8. Your Inner Child Helps You Discover New Hobbies
What might seem like a game to some can be a real hobby or even a full-blown career for others. Take chess, for example. Most people look at it as a simple game. But that didn’t stop others from working every day and making a career. The same goes for sports, arts, and many other things. Until you try something out, you don’t know if it’ll become a hobby or not.
When you play, you allow yourself to discover things you’d have never tried otherwise. And there’s no pressure to be good at the game. If it’s not for you, you can move on. But at least you know you gave it a shot.
9. It’s a Way to Bond with Others
There are only so many things people can bond over when having coffee together. Sometimes, being playful is the best way to create meaningful connections and bond with new people.
When adults play, the activity has a sense of freedom and innocence. No one feels judged or forced to act in ways that are not true to themselves. It’s the best way to let go and just be yourself. Plus, it gives you a reason to hang out and an activity to do together so that you don’t just sit in silence.
10. It Makes Your Inner Child Happy
No matter how old you are, a part of your subconscious mind is still a child. This part deals with good experiences as well as memories from your childhood. And that accounts for everything, from fears to traumas.
This part is complex but holds onto every child’s simple desires. In simpler terms, your inner child wants to play. And, when your inner child is happy, your subconscious mind is better equipped to handle all that baggage from your childhood that most adults never sort through.
As an adult, it might seem weird to play. But that’s just because society has constructed this idea that play is only fit for kids and no one else. You’ll find evidence that proves otherwise if you read into the topic. And the things described above are just ten of the dozens of benefits that playing brings into your life.
Play improves your mood and is one of the best ways to relax. But it also has numerous physical benefits, as play can often be a more fun way to work out. In addition, playing stimulates your imagination and creativity, and you might even find a new hobby when rifling through games. Most importantly, play is something that comes naturally to all humans. Adults might be older and wiser than kids, but even they have an inner child who only wants to take a break and play sometimes.