Adulting can be very stressful. Many adults find coping mechanisms, some healthy like exercise, or meditation. A glass of wine at the end of a workday can be good for you but polishing off the whole bottle isn’t. However, play can be a good way to handle the stress that comes with managing adult life. Studies show that play and being playful helps children improve brain health.
Play increases your mental and physical wellness. It boosts creativity and allows adults to anticipate different outcomes. In addition, you develop mental flexibility and more courage in threatening situations. You can hone your trial-and-error learning. The positive emotions that come with playing unlock a sense of childlike joy. Being spontaneous and joking around is great for your mental health. It also increases satisfaction with life.
How to enjoy play again
1. Figure out what works for you
Look at your childhood play patterns. There are websites that can help you identify your play personality. You can figure out if you prefer video games, dancing, exploring, collecting or knitting. If you had a childhood hobby that you abandoned, this may be the best time to pick it up again. And the best part of it, you now have adult money to indulge your inner child.
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2. Set aside time to play
As an adult, you may need to schedule playtime. After identifying the play events you like, find time in your day to indulge in them. If you’re an explorer, you can spend your lunch break visiting a museum or an arts centre near your office. You can also make time to knit after work when you’re back home. Adding play to your schedule makes it easier to form a habit.
Taking the time to think about playfulness, when you were playing, and revisiting your memories helps improve mental health. Research shows that simply thinking about playing improves well-being. To start this, journal about playful things before bed. Write about playful things you experienced, who you played with, and what you accomplished. You can also share your progress using online journaling platforms such as Instagram.
How else can you feel joy
Joy causes many psychological and physical benefits. There are more activities outside of play that can bring about joy for adults. When you experience joy, your body experiences some changes. Your breathing speeds up, your pulse increases, and your body warms. This improves mood.
Joy also triggers the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and endorphins. These are called happy hormones. They are the body’s natural opiates and trigger feelings of euphoria. While joy is something you can experience naturally, there are still ways you can source it.
Research shows that eating food with others increases feelings of joy, like play. Eating with others is one of the easiest ways to experience psychological flourishing. Preparing food with friends and family can also stimulate joy. If you can’t spend time with others, you can make a call during meal prep and have digital company while you cook.
Having an exercise goal and meeting it every period releases happy hormones. However, if you push your body too hard, you can experience pain instead. It’s important to stick to exercises you can handle if you’re aiming to look for joy. You can also use exercises like aerobics or jump rope if you want to look for more playful methods.
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3. Sharing your feelings
If you journal, you can write down how you feel. Studies show that writing about intensely positive experiences brings better moods that last longer. Moments of great joy such as a surprise party, seeing an old friend after a long time, or mastering a tricky recipe should be documented. You can do this by talking about it with a friend or sharing it on social media.
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