Because Play (really) Matters

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood we stopped playing. It probably happened unconsciously as we found our days spent in what seemed like more responsible and adult-appropriate tasks, chores, activities. Work. Family. More work. Manage the home. Kids. Work.

play_swingHere’s the problem with that: play is healthy. We know how important it is, especially for kids, where the research and opinion about providing time for kids to play is plentiful. It would not surprise any of us that the play has been linked to developing children’s cognitive and social skills that will eventually enable them to engage in more complex tasks as they get older.

Here’s the thing: as adults, we know we are continually growing and developing our own skills. Learning is a lifelong process, and our cognitive and social faculties aid us in our work life, our home life, our relationships, our ability to manage stress, etc. Why then, do we stop playing? One reason is that social norms that govern acceptable adult behavior tell us that adults should be serous and duty-bound. Another reason is that allowable play for adults is believed to be competitive play. Well, neither of these are the case.

Playing is about having fun. Doing what you love. Leisure time. Smiling. Laughing. Joy. For some, play might be going on a bike ride. For others it might be building blocks with a grandchild. We need to reclaim our right (and need) for play and recreate a concept of play that is more expansive and inclusive. Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen, saying it’s vital at all ages. So, let’s play

Here are some ideas

  • Play a board game. Either an adult game night, or with your kids.
  • When your kids are doing something fun, like a trampoline place or mini golf, do it along with them.
  • Build with legos
  • Play with your pet
  • Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Put on some music and color.
  • Play ping pong, pool, or smashball
  • Go on the swings at a playground
  • Read something enjoyable just because you like it

Here’s a grea
t article on the benefits of play (stress relief) with links to other articles and studies on the subject.

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lorri sulpizio

About lorri sulpizio

Lorri is a former college-basketball coach and personal trainer, turned leadership professional. She is Director of the Leadership Institute at the University of San Diego and principal consultant at Lotus Leadership Institute. She loves anything fitness, reading and spending time with her kids and family.