When Was the Last Time You Let Yourself Play as an Adult?
Think back and ask yourself – “When was the last time you let yourself play as an adult? ” If you are anything like me your “free” time when you are done working consists of doing chores around the house and everything else gets pushed aside.
My inner dialogue tends to sound like this “when I get to the end of my to-do list, then I will give myself time to play”. This really should be changed to an If-Then statement – IF I ever get my to-do lists completed (#never), THEN I can play.
And by play, I mean anything of a creative nature that makes your heart sing a little. This idea of putting fun off until never, sounds backwards and unfair, doesn’t it?
If we are to have any life in this life of ours, we need to leave plenty of time for play.
Why Adult Play is Important
Play is what makes everything else seem worthwhile. When we are young children, we do this instinctively. Remember when you were little and you had so much fun trying new things because you didn’t insist that you be immediately good at doing it? You would just try it for fun.
Children’s play teaches them valuable life skills about taking turns and other social skills they need to succeed in school and life.
Little kids work hard at having fun as a form of play when given the opportunity. And, in the process of doing this, they get so immersed in what they are doing they lose all track of time and experience flow.
As adults, we may get to experience flow in our work lives if we are really lucky. But, it is also important to find a creative pursuit or hobby that gives us this beneficial flow feeling during our time off. For more on the concept of flow, see Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s Ted Talk.
Right now, my daughters are hard at play making a wheel of fashion. What they land on, they have to try to find an outfit to fit that description. They came up with the idea, found the cardboard, paint, etc. and have been happily engaged in doing this for over an hour.
My problem is when I do have spare time, I often have a hard time thinking of fun things I could do. I have made plenty of lists and jars of ideas of fun things my kids could do over the years, now it is time to create a jar of my own. And, then I need to schedule time for play on a consistent basis.
Benefits of Play
According to the Healthy Aging Research Journal – “Healthy aging is reflected in well-being, participation, playfulness, and cognitive-emotional functioning” by Waldman-Levi, et al. 2015, www.har-journal.com.
In this article they discuss various factors impacting healthy aging in adults. “Another potential contributing factor to healthy aging is a person’s playfulness. Studies of the concept of playfulness pertain mostly to its measurement and consequences in a work setting. Auerhahn and Laub suggest that playfulness facilitates healing, improves morale, and increases motivation. Tegano showed a significant relationship between playfulness and creativity in adults, as was previously identified with children.”
As playful adults, when we engage in different types of play, we help our physical health through healing (above) and by the physical benefits of doing something like riding a bike. We help our mental health by escaping from our daily life for a bit by reading an engrossing novel.
The link between play and creativity feels especially true to me because when I am creating I am having fun. And, when I play, I also feel like I can be more creative because I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself for how something turns out.
If our morale and motivation can also be improved by taking a playful attitude, we can make boring tasks that we have to do more fun. And because it sounds like fun, we are more apt to want to do it.
Take exercise for example (I don’t love it but I know I need to do it), I’m more likely to do a specific activity if I do it with a friend. We can check out new places to go for a hike, take a yoga class, or try a new sport as a way of exercising and also playing at the same time.
Your Play Personality – What Will Appeal to You?
Believe it or not, there is even a National Institute for Play founded by Dr. Stuart Brown! They want the world to know that “having fun – playing – is the healthiest way to spend your time (after feeding and housing yourself).” On the site there is a section devoted to play personalities, which is really fascinating reading.
The Play Personalities are:
Definitely, take the play quiz too called “Understanding Your Play Style”. Mine came back as the Explorer – very cool!
Ideas for Play as an Adult
Here are some ideas for playing as an adult. This list is not exhaustive. Create your own list of things that appeal to you and most importantly – sound like fun!
- Magazine – Collages
- Coloring books for adults
- Creative apps for your phone
- Card games
- Painting a canvas
- Painting pots/ceramics
- Crafts – jewelry making, etc.
- Board games
- Go for a bike ride
- Any kind of physical activity that you enjoy – skating, swimming, softball, etc.
- Video games
If you are still not sure what you want to do, you need to check out an author named Sark. She is an author and artist and can be a source of great inspiration just by flipping through her books. Check out her books either through this link or at your local library.
People of all ages can play without worrying about it being a waste of time. Just remember you are doing important work when playing, it just might not look like it.
When you play, you get the benefit of being in the present moment and take the pressure off of your adult life. And, you will ultimately have more life satisfaction if you can find ways to engage in the types of activities described above.
What is your favorite way to let yourself play? I’ve shared some ideas in this post – “How to Have Fun Again When You Forget How” for ways to have fun.
I would love it if you would share your ideas with the rest of us in the comments below. I hope you schedule some play time for yourself soon!
Did you enjoy this post? If so, don’t forget to share it on Pinterest!
While you are here, make sure you grab your copy of the "Self-Care Mini-Guide" to help you figure out how to add self-care to your daily life. Just click the link Loveselfcare Self-Care Mini-Guide to download your guide!