When we think of play, we often think of a child playing in the sandbox, on the playground, or giggling and being silly. However, play is as important for adults as it is for kids.
“Each person has a unique play personality…when one remains in touch with it…when it is actualized, it empowers and brings pleasure to life.”
~Dr. Stuart Brown.
Through studies by Dr. Brown, play has been shown to reduce or eliminate depression and/or anxiety, and create connection with ourselves and with others.
Last week, after feeling sad and disappointed with a friend, I thought about hibernating for the weekend. I saw the old pattern in myself and decided that I would choose differently by putting myself in a situation where I had to play; play with friends, play with music, and play with dance, so I went to the Montana Folk Festival in Butte.
As my body began to move to the music, I noticed the sadness lift and happiness inside take over, especially when a woman named Maria De Barros came on stage from Cape Verde in a beautiful dress with laughter, love, and joy, I couldn’t help but feel and absorb it from her!
We can play in many different ways, according to Dr. Brown and The National Institute for Play (NIFP). What I was experiencing is called “body play“, such as jumping into a pile of leaves, going down a water slide, or dance.
Dr. Brown goes on to explain six other types of play:
•Attunement play – such as looking at a child, friend, or loved one and feeling joy
•Object play – these can be board games, word puzzles, skipping rocks, or flying a kite (it’s anything involving an object in the play)
•Social play – this involves play with others, such as ballroom dancing, wrestling with a friend or lover, or laughing together
•Imaginative and Pretend play – games involving imagination such as pictionary, writing a fictional story, or creating a desert island and “5 things you would take with you” game
•Storytelling play – using your creative energy to tell stories from your life, reading a story with character voices, or listening to stories being told such as with Garrison Keeler
•Transformative-Integrative play – as we play an instrument, we are drawn to create our own music, or follow a tangent of play in a new direction. It opens us up to new possibilities that we didn’t know existed – thus transforming our way of being.
These types of play can overlap and intermix, but most importantly we can play as adults, and it’s really important for us to do so to feel joy! An important point the NIFP states is that if we are playing to accomplish something, we are not playing. Playing is for the purpose of being present, of being in our bodies, or being with a friend. They also conclude that play “fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.”
My body continued to dance all the way home in the car last night, a lightness of being, and joy filling my face! So get out there and play: dance, sing, play an instrument, laugh till your belly hurts with a friend, draw, paint, play in the leaves, make a flower bouquet from your garden, ride a cruiser bike around town just for the joy, dust off the pictionary game, or anything else that brings a smile to your face. It’s contagious!
Categories: Health & Happiness