The Importance of Play

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Play is considered a regular part of childhood, however as we grow older we tend to consider play to be an indulgence or a break in our everyday hectic lives of endlessly dealing with ‘grown up stuff’. However, it is imperative to include ‘play’ as part of the ‘grown up stuff’, as it provides a number of mental health benefits which we should all take advantage of.

What is ‘play’?
  • It is a psychological state that when we talk about it, everyone can relate to that feeling of well-being that emanates when playing.
  • Definitions for the word ‘play’ can be just as similar or as different between them, because it is a word that when attempting to define it, personality, likes, life experiences, skills, culture and interests, may influence the way in which we explain what we consider ‘play’ to be.
  • Not everyone plays in the same way; This can be illustrated by an example of two persons playing chess. While one person’s aim in the game might be simply to win and considers that to be play, the other player may simply enjoy the fact of being engaged in the game and be completely careless about the outcome of it.
So why don’t adults ‘play’?
  • Due to globalization in the 1960s as well as the general rejection of the ideals of new materialism, it has been noted that since the 1970’s, play time for adults has decreased intensely.
  • Another reason behind the zest to earn monetary reward or get ahead in the corporate world sacrificing play time can be explained through evolution. In older times, if humans decided to play instead of gathering food or search for refuge; they would be more vulnerable than their human counterparts to being prey.
Why should we play?
  • When individuals play, it allows them to discharge emotionally in a healthy way.
  • Play has been used by therapists to help patients of traumatic experiences change the endings to such negative events in play therapy.
  • Individuals who have played more during their lives have been demonstrated to live longer as well. This is because play is a factor that positively contributes to health and intelligence.
  • Play allows us to change from moments of boredom and habits of everyday life to escapades of pure joy and novel experiences; In turn positively changing our everyday routine into incorporating more moments of pure happiness.
  • It also allows us to feel competent in a certain activity as it allows for a perfect combination of recognizing our skills and capabilities while doing what we love.
  • The more you play, the better memory you may have — results of a study looking at individuals who play video games had a better cognitive capacity than their non-playing counterparts.

So whenever you are hesitant to engage in crafting, playing music, or whatever it is that gives you that pure childlike joy, remember that it will provide you with more than just an enjoyable time, but will also contribute to enhanced health and wellbeing. With this being said, you have now met an essential aspect to adult life besides work. Now get to play.

 

About the author:

Alejandra Vergara is a student at Simon Fraser University studying psychology. . Currently, she is volunteering with The British Columbia Psychological Association and is writing for the Piece of Mind blog.

 

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