To say that the world today can be hectic or chaotic at times would be an understatement. Unfortunately, many adults have lost touch with one of the best tools for achieving or maintaining a sense of calmness and of being “centered.” That tool is play. Like adults, children face a number of stressors in their lives. They naturally turn to play as a way to release tension and temporarily free their mind of worries and concerns. However, since our adult daily lives are so consumed with work, family responsibilities and obligations that others rely on us to handle, making time for play isn’t as reflexive for adults as it is for children. Therefore, we need to make intentional choices to incorporate play into our routines.
The Many Benefits of Play
Ask any child what the best part of their school day is and they will almost certainly say, “Recess!” Whether you can work it into your schedule regularly or on an “as time permits” basis, taking a recess can be something that you, too, eagerly anticipate and from which you derive a variety of benefits, including:
- Stress relief. True childlike play, away from your work, laptop and smartphone, can be an excellent way to shed your mental and emotional burdens for a few minutes.
- Improved cognitive function and creativity. Adults who engage in playful activities often find that they have the unintended benefit of helping them think more clearly and creatively at work and elsewhere.
- Increased energy. Even a brief midday play session can have a very positive impact on your energy level when you turn your attention to afternoon tasks.
- Improved relationships. Nothing helps build or repair relationships like sharing laughs while playing games or enjoying adventures with one another.
- Emotional healing. Not only is play a great way to relieve stress, it can help you release and move beyond emotional pains.
- Improved teamwork. Many playful activities involve teamwork, a skill that can be diminished or lost for adults in our competitive culture. Reconnecting with the joy of shared victory can have a positive impact on many areas of life.
The Five-Minute Recess
Getting away from your tasks and your To Do list for 30-minutes or more can be very invigorating. However, when that’s not possible, even five minutes of “play” can be helpful. Having some interesting and engaging toys close at hand in your work environment (whether that is outside the home or at home) and allowing yourself to become completely engrossed in them for a few minutes here and there is a healthy habit to develop.
We know that play can certainly be a centering influence. Please keep it in mind. And if you have concerns about your mental health or a loved one, we are happy to talk with you and help with any counseling services. Get more information on our metro Denver mental health centers at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.