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August 26, 2022

Incorporating Play In Adulthood

Elena Karamanova

An older lady sitting on the floor painting while playing with paint colours.

Grown-Ups Need Play Too

Yes, you read that right. Adults need time to play as well! When you think of the term “play,” do you imagine a child or an adult? We’re more likely to visualize a child because of the expectations society has placed around the term play. While it’s true that play is an important factor in child development— it expands cognitive capabilities and increases vocabulary in group interactions — it’s also important for adults to incorporate play into their daily routines. 

How Do You Define Play?

Play is a voluntary, engaging activity that a person does alone or in a group for the sole purpose of pleasure or enjoyment. 

Why is Play Important in Adulthood?

Our lives look very different from when we were kids. We have more responsibilities and expectations — bills, health, family members, cleaning, etc. With these responsibilities guiding our daily routines, time for ourselves often gets put on the back burner. 

Ask yourself: “when was the last time I engaged in a playful activity?” When we neglect to engage in fun activities that bring us genuine joy, negative effects can start to creep up such as burnout, sadness, and even boredom. 

Playful activities in adulthood have many benefits: they can reduce stress, improve brain functionality, strengthen relationships, and bring joy and creativity into our lives. 

Types of Play

There are three types of play you can explore to find activities that excite or interest you.

  1. Active Play: Any activity that involves moving your body in a way that brings joy.        Examples include swimming, yoga, playing a sport, etc. 
  2. Creative Play: Activities that encourage you to be imaginative and produce unique, personalized content. Examples include painting, writing, colouring, woodworking, knitting, etc. 
  3. Strategic Play: Activities that encourage your logical thinking in a way that’s enjoyable. Examples include video games, board games, etc. 

How Can We Add Play Into Our Adult Lives?

It’s important to make time for playful activities, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. When we allow ourselves to feel that excitement that we felt as children, we build a better connection with ourselves — one that we may have lost when we entered adulthood. This can make life meaningful. 

What activity did you love growing up? What would it feel like to do that or something similar again? Write down some activities that you’d like to do, and make a plan to work them into your schedule. Take note of how you feel when you do these activities. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, not a problem! The following list of playful activities might inspire you:

  1. Join a recreational sports league
  2. Take up art classes at the local community centre – painting, improv classes
  3. Host a board game night or play a board game online 
  4. Spend time in nature – hiking, swimming, canoeing, etc.
  5. Visit an arcade, play mini golf
  6. Participate in a Karaoke night
  7. Attend a Zumba class at the local gym 
  8. Spend an evening colouring – on paper or online
  9. Complete a crossword puzzle
  10. Go on a bike ride

Balance is Key 

Allowing ourselves to play again can boost our mood and give us something to look forward to. It gives us a break from our responsibilities and helps us fully immerse ourselves in the present moment. I encourage you to seek out playful activities every week. 

If you’d like support to bring meaning back into your life again, or help navigating  mental health challenges that get in the way of playful activities, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our mental health professionals.

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