You imagine how wonderful it would be to feel transported back in that way as your grandkids swing on the playground swings. This is not for children, is it? Play as an adult has many benefits, including the ability to reduce stress levels and strengthen relationships.
Stuart Brown, MD, psychiatrist, says that play is similar to love. Although it can be hard to define, we know it's intrinsically motivating. This means we do it to bring us joy. Play, like love triggers positive brain chemicals.
Brooke Feeney PhD, a social psychologist, says that play can make us more creative and optimistic. It also helps us to lower our guard, which makes us stronger, making us more connected. Play can enhance relationships of all types, but it can also be a rewarding solo activity. Here are some simple ways you can play your way to a more enjoyable day.
Sad? Use Wordle to Get Rid of It
It may be that the most popular word game is also the best to lift your mood. Strategy games can reduce sadness levels by encouraging "future thinking," which frees us from the rumination that we often struggle with when we feel down. Are you not a Wordle user? You can play anything, from mah-jongg and Monopoly. Feeney says, "Games encourage self-expansion and the learning of new skills that combat sadness and promote well-being."
Anxious? Take a 'awe-walk' into the world.
Five minutes spent in nature can bring out a sense of wonder that reduces stress and helps us think clearly. Dr. Brown says that admiring beauty can be a'state or play' in itself. He explains that outdoor activities tap into spontaneity, which is a key ingredient of play. Your brain releases "happy" brain chemicals when it can't predict the next turn in the trail. He explains that being playful does not necessarily require you to schedule a game or ping-pong. It's about anything that puts you in the moment. We can't worry about the future if we are enjoying the moment.
Are you stuck in a rut. Turn up the volume.
Upbeat music can enhance "divergent" and imaginative thinking. Because music triggers activity in brain areas responsible for innovation, it may be called "the language of play". Play must be interactive. You can boost mood-enhancing effects of music therapy by dancing in your kitchen to your favorite song or singing along to your radio. The more movement you do, the brighter your brain regions will become. Take a cue from Dr. Brown (90), who mixes music and movement with Oklahoma tunes! While cycling
Lonely? Have a lot of fun together.
Cooperative play is the best way to strengthen bonds. Feeney says that cooperative play involves working together to achieve a common goal. It can be done in-person or remotely. You can play charades in the living room, go on a virtual scavenger hunting with your grandkids, and ask 20 questions over coffee with your best friend. You can't make a playdate. You can overcome loneliness by "generative" play. This is simply the act of nurturing something, either literally (like gardening) or metaphorically (by creating something new, such as a craft). This is how we feel connected.
The article was originally published in First For Women.
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