Play is a very undervalued concept in modern culture. It is something most people leave behind as they “grow up” into responsible adults. Yet, who amongst us isn’t touched watching children in their innocent silliness exploring their world through the portal of play: making up stories, searching for lost treasures, rolling around on the floor with each other just for the pure joy in the experience, laughing uncontrollably and with full abandon at any little thing that strikes their fancy? “Child’s play” is too often used as a derogatory, immature statement towards actions that are considered insignificant wastes of time.
Play deprivation is creating physical, emotional, mental burnout, and stress-related health problems that are widespread worldwide. However, research with children and adults alike consistently reveals that there is tremendous value to playing that can improve the quality of life for adults as well as children! Musicians and improvisational artists of all genres understand this value and experience the benefits first hand. Creative play is perhaps one of the most important, valuable things you can do to generate more health, happiness and a better quality of life. Infusing play into the workday can keep you emotionally balanced and can reduce stress, both of which can contribute to living healthier and longer.
Just a few of the beneifts of play include (but are not limited to)
1. Play can inspire you to think differently
Play allows you to explore different possibilities and open new pathways. Play has created some of our most important and brilliant creations. It gives a safe space for experimentation and expansion beyond our normal routine ways of doing things.
2. Playing brings more joy into your life
Play creates laughter, joy, and a feeling of inner peace. It is almost impossible to stay stuck, angry, or frustrated when you are giving yourself permission to be free, silly and fully expressed. Let it out thru play, make silly sounds, dance for no reason, and see if you don’t find yourself smiling!
3. Play reduces stress
“Studies show that as humans, play is hardwired into our genetic code. With regular play, our problem-solving and adaptive abilities will be in much better shape to handle this complex world, and we are much more likely to choose healthy answers to challenging situations as they arise.”
4. Playing on a regular basis can increase longevity of life.
Being play-deprived is similar to being sleep-deprived. Our genetic code demands that we play, just as it demands that we sleep, and when we resist this primal urge, our physical, emotional and mental energies are deeply depleted. Play improves immune response, increases joy, and has a positive impact on the human system all the way through!
5. Play can stimulate the imagination, curiosity, and creativity
Research shows that play is a hands-on, minds-on learning process. It produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities. Play in corporate environments has been shown to increase productivity and enhance creative process and product development!
6. Play can greatly enhance your energy levels
Playing safely gives your body back the energy it needs through laughter. Doing things that bring you joy and being with other people who are having fun enables you to keep your energy levels up longer and sustain more vitality.
7. Play can provide you with an opportunity to take risks
Play lets us experiment, explore and take risks with ideas without fearing the consequences that might happen in “real life.” Play also helps us learn our way, develop curiosity, learn to think, make new choices, discover special talents, build social relationships, make things less scary, and experience new enthusiasm for life.
8. Play maintains & builds healthier relationships
A playful youthful spirit makes you a more attractive person! The more enjoyable you are to be around, the more you will spread that to others who will be attracted to your health perspective on life and the healthier your relationships will become!
Music making, dance, and expressive arts are forms of play that you can easily maintain your whole life. Bringing people together to play in this way builds community, creates a healthier individual and a healthier community! Find time and cultivate your relationship to play in a myriad of ways and you will be adding years to your life in these precious moments.
*Some content taken from Marianne St. Clair’s article: The Top 10 benefits of Play**