Monday, 17 October 2016

(Mental Health) - Food for the soul: Don't act your age!

Yes, you read the heading of this post correctly! Don't act your age once in a while and do all the things a child would, such as play board/TV/computer games, watch animated movies, play hide and go seek and such.  

What few people realise is that play is not only important for the development of children but it is equally important for the well-being of adults.

The benefits of play for adults are numerous and includes things such as an increase in energy levels, the enhancement of brain functionality, stress and anxiety relief, depression prevention and creativity enhancement to name but a few.                                                                  

Playing (games such as tennis, monopoly, hide and go seek) with other adults can also improve your relationships as well as help to further develop your social skills.

Does the value of,"playing as if you were a child" sound far-fetched to you, even though you have now read of some of the benefits? Well don't take my word for it, just "Google" the topic (play for adults) and you will find a wealth of information confirming all I have said as well as some articles linking back to scientific evidence to back up these facts. This topic has long interested me and I have actually been doing some research on it for years. Do your homework and it will overwhelm you just how beneficial recreational childlike play is!

I must say that I am living proof of the benefits since I too make play a part of my regular routine in the form of building puzzles, colouring in pictures, playing games on my Xbox/Nintendo/PC and rolling around on the grass with my dogs (just like a child would) amongst many other childlike activities. 

Just how has this benefited me you may ask? Well I am a 35 year old woman with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, I hardly ever get sick and when I do (the flu) it never lasts for longer than two days. I still have all my teeth, - no grey hairs, my weight remains constant and I have very few lines and wrinkles.

I am also a very happy person who very rarely has a down mood or demeanour. Now I do realise that my diet and overall healthy habits have a lot to do with all this, however I am convinced that my "play" sessions are big contributors as well, because since I started my little "play" routines I have noticed a huge change in myself in that I don't seem to care that much about what other people think anymore and I don't sweat the small things in life (in other words I don't stress as much anymore over petty nonsense).

Still sound ridiculous to you? Well many people in New York City would beg to differ, since they all pay big bucks for the chance to play like children in Brooklyn's very own "Adult Play School". Their reason for doing this? Stress release mainly I would think, but I am sure they also do this for many of the other reasons (and numerous proven benefits) I chose to make play part of my routine. 

Still not quite convinced? Well then take my little challenge. For exactly one month, try to play for at least an hour every single day, doing things such as;
2. Playing a board game of some sort with others
3. Playing any type of TV or computer game
4. Watching an animated children's movie
5. Playing outside with your dogs (running around with them etc.)
6. Finger painting a picture
7. Sculpting items out of play dough
8. Playing a game of hide and go seek with your children/friends
9. Building with Lego or other blocks
10. Colouring in a picture

This list is in no way extensive and you can add any other forms of play you wish. The more childlike it is, the better. However any form of play will have its benefits, - stress release normally being the main one. 

Once you have taken the challenge and completed it successfully, I guarantee you will feel so much better and no longer find the whole concept of "playing" ridiculous. If not, well then what did you really lose, except an hour a day spend doing something outside of watching television or sitting in traffic?

Happy playing y'all.


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