When was the last time you played? We know sleep and food are essential for our wellbeing, but do we understand just how important play is to our wellbeing, even as adults?
My husband and I have been busier than normal as we have been moving apartments and preparing for our first baby on the way. We both highly value recreation and playtime, and typically make time every weekend for at least one fun, playful activity. During this busy time, we have not made time for play, and I notice a decline in my mood and in our connection.
Most people are familiar with the Food Plate recommendations for daily nutrition for physical wellness. Dr. Dan Siegel has created a similar concept for mental wellness, called the Healthy Mind Platter, and playtime is part of the Platter.
This makes sense if you think about the benefits you obtain from play. I notice when I play, I laugh and I relieve physical and mental stress. For me, play often includes physical exercise and connecting with other people, which are both vital to our mental wellness. Play brings energy and excitement, a real change a pace to my life. Play is the ultimate form of mindfulness, of being totally present and in the moment, which also increases our mental wellness.
In addition to the benefits play has for individuals, play is great for revitalizing couple relationships. Play brings newness; even if you do the same activity, it is never the exact same every time. Play brings spontaneity and lightheartedness. For couples, play can increase intimacy and general positive feelings for each other through its newness and spontaneity. In therapy, I often give couples the “assignment” to do something together they have never done before. Traditions and favorite activities are important in couple relationships, but new experiences bring even more zest to a relationship and allow for couples to connect in new ways.
Make time for play. Play with your kids, your significant other, friends, or yourself. Play can mean different things to different people. Here are some of my favorite playtime activities:
• Throwing a frisbee with my husband
• Playing a board game with a group of friends
• Playing the ukulele
• Playing with my dog
• Exploring a new part of the city
Playing “kid” games with your children is a great way to strengthen your relationship with them, and you might find that hide n’ seek is still fun as an adult! Play is great because it doesn’t have to cost a thing and doesn’t always require planning ahead. Take advantage of the nice weather! Playtime is calling.