Why We Need Fun and Play

Why We Need Fun and Play

Why We Need Fun and Play

(Taken from Whole 30)


In 2008, the NY Times ran an article titled, “Why Do We Play?” The article reads, in part:

“Scientists who study play, in animals and humans alike, are developing a consensus view that play is something more than a way for restless kids to work off steam; more than a way for chubby kids to burn off calories; more than a frivolous luxury. Play, in their view, is a central part of neurological growth and development — one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains.”


But play isn’t just for children. New research from the University of Houston shows a direct correlation between play and how much joy and fulfillment people experience in their lives. Play deprivation, like sleep deprivation, negatively effects our well-being, happiness, relationships and creativity.


• Check this Tim Brown TED Talk for more on play and creativity

• Watch this short video demonstrating that creativity depends on playfulness and fun.


Our heavy focus on productivity and work robs us of our playtime, and leads to “play deprivation.” A recent article in the Washington Post says:


“We stop playing at our peril… We think we are a playful culture, but we are really overworked. Americans on average have 13 paid vacation days per year, and most people don’t even take them. Other countries have 40. We take our weekends to play hard, but that’s really to let off steam from our play-deprived lives and just get enough energy to get back into the ring.”.


•Read this NY Times article on the first playground for grown-ups, in Brooklyn, NY 


Play More!


Wondering how to add more fun and play to your day? Here are five easy ways.


Go after laughter. If you suspect you’re laughing less as time goes on, you may be right. A researcher at University of Glamorgan in Wales concluded that as people age, they don’t laugh as often. But giggles are good for you: They lower stress levels, exercise your lungs, strengthen your immune system and may even protect you against heart disease. Plus, laughing is loads of fun. Make a point of watching a funny movie, TV show or stand-up comedy routine. Click on those hilarious videos your Facebook pals are passing around. Tell some jokes. You’ll feel better for it!


Switch up your same-old. Stuck in a rut? Now, that’s no fun. Try shaking things up a little. Take a different walk to work or school and admire the scenery. Do your weekly grocery shopping at a store you’re not used to. Who knows what new gourmet treats you may find? It doesn’t even have to be much of a change to make it fun.


Sign up with your social circle. If you’re planning to take an exercise class or evening course, get friends to go with you. Weekly aqua fitness sessions can be a hoot when pals join in and you crack jokes throughout class. Experts at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research say that people are happier when they have a connection to their community.


Do something you suck at. Yes, really! Whether it’s balancing on a slackline, flying a kite with your neighbor’s kid, or working on your swan dive, it can be fun to add activities to your everyday life that you haven’t mastered. We’re not talking about setting yourself up for frustration, but challenging yourself to a task you don’t yet know how to do. Without the pressure of having to be perfect, you’re free to laugh at your clumsy attempts, maybe learn something new and, most important of all, just enjoy yourself.


Practice peace, love, and forgiveness. Naturally, life is less fun when you’re hung up on your neighbor’s noisy car muffler, your co-worker’s gossiping habit, or your own thighs. When you make a point of extending goodwill and forgiveness—and yes, that includes a healthy dose of self-love—you can let go of what makes you grumpy.


Source: http://www.besthealthmag.ca/

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