I was watching a friend’s 3 year old grandson roll about on the floor in a public place. Why was he doing it? Because he could! He had no inhibitions, not doubting thoughts, just a desire to play and feel the experience or rolling around.
We all know the saying “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” by George Bernard Shaw. When does that freedom of playing stop? I think it stops even when we are children or certainly teenagers and instead our rational, inhibiting mind kicks in and starts to restrict our inner child.
What favourite games or activities did you do as a child, how did it make you feel? As I recall those memories even now a smile spreads across my face. There is a sense of freedom, joyousness, being right in the moment – a chance to explore our bodies, our environment and our minds. Play was about laughter, making friends, feeling good, feeling happy. And as adults we still need and deserve those things.
We know that play is essential to development and growth in all young mammals but play in adults is also incredibly beneficial. Play in adults relieves stress, builds bonds within friendships, stimulates brain function and promotes connection and a sense of belong, all crucial for good mental health.
I know that there is a place and time for everything and that rolling on the floor in a restaurant although it might make you feel great, could have consequences! However as adults we can still find time and ways of means to play.
As I’ve mentioned in several blogs it stars with attitude and choice, an intention and willingness to let go of possible embarrassment, of ignoring social norms and doing your own stuff regardless of what others may think. In fact we don’t know what others are thinking and may even be envious of our expression of freedom and inhibition!
Play can be an individual activity such as splashing in puddles, skipping when out walking, blowing bubbles or playing with a pet. Play with others can be spontaneous or planned, building sandcastles on the beach, arranging board game evenings, playing hide and seek, doing I-Spy on a car journey, the list is endless. Whatever you do it should give you pleasure, fun, laughter and freedom of movement and thought.
What have you done recently that has been fun and playful? If you’re stuck with what to do go back to those memories of play as a child and if possible live them again. Don’t get put off by others saying that it is “childish” or they haven’t got time, they are missing out big time!
Leave your adult self behind and once again find your inner child!