Do you feel like a big kid? I do. I’ve never wanted to ‘grow up’. It all seemed a bit too serious for me. Growing up meant no more playing, and I couldn’t imagine a life without it! I think many people don’t realise or have forgotten, the amazing impact of play. To me, play is something that takes you away into another dimension – for the time period of that game, you can really feel that you’re in the present – there’s no worrying or dwelling on the past……there’s just NOW.
These days, more and more, we see articles about the impact of play on our children. Wouldn’t it be great if school could include more play and less workbooks? Forest school is becoming more popular, as are the Steiner schools, where child-led learning is commonplace. For those unsure about this, tell me, do you really enjoy a life without play?
The impact of play in learning and development
I remember working at a childminders many years ago. The children there were mainly pre-school age. So our days were full of fun and games! One day I put up a display of their work – lots of colourful, glittery paintings. Then I went to get them a drink. When I came back, there was glitter all over the floor, and a painting was missing the bottom part of the picture. I asked who did it. All the kids looked at one little girl. So I asked her if she knew anything about the glitter on the floor. She said ‘I know! I think it just rained glitter in here!’. I had to smile. She was learning after all. By rubbing the picture with her finger, the glitter had fallen off. No doubt one of her first lessons in gravity (and persuasion)!
Children discover so much when they play. Building games like lego or even Minecraft, teach them how to create something out of nothing. How colours go together. How patterns are created. When they do this with friends, it helps teach them communication skills, and a little competition always fires up their passion to win! No doubt they laugh a lot too! Laughter causes us to release happy hormones called endorphins, that interact with receptors in the brain. This makes us feel better and more relaxed.
The impact of play in mental wellbeing
So what about the grown ups? Well, everything that applies to children, also applies to adults. The impact of play is just as amazing. We are all human after all! In fact, it’s much more likely that we need play in our lives, as anxiety is known to increase as we age (and especially during the menopause). The world gets on top of us and too much of a serious life can really get us down.
Enjoyment in something means we feel more motivated and energised to do it. So by making learning fun using play, it makes sense that children learn more easily. The same is true of adults though! I’ve been to many training sessions where we’ve played a game so the tutor can get the message across – think along the lines of ‘I’m a celebrity’ or ‘Krypton Factor’. There’s a lesson in every game.
It’s true that play at work can increase a departments productivity. Happy staff are more motivated. Play can strengthen work relationships, so employees trust each other more. Feeling trusted builds confidence. This then leads to a more supportive atmosphere and ultimately, more productivity (and less sickness!).
How can we introduce play back into our lives?
Fun is of huge value to me. I can literally feel myself relaxing as I get excited about doing something fun! And it doesn’t have to be a big activity. You can introduce fun into your day in so many ways. Here are some ideas:
- If you have a big project, break it down into chunks and in between do something fun! I often set an alarm for 30 minutes – giving me a set time to concentrate. After that, I have a 10 minute break to play Scrabble® GO or the Ultimate Cribbage app. This works great if you’re a student and you find a big essay daunting.
- Introduce game night in your house. We used to do this every couple of weeks (we really must start it up again!). The plan is for each person to choose a game and commit to playing everyone’s game that night (unless it’s Monopoly…that will be one long night!).
- Make believe is also play! At dinner time, we often have very silly conversations where we end up rhyming our words or coming up with some bizarre question that has many silly answers (last night was our daughters confusion over ‘Sing a song of sixpence…a pocket full of PIE’ – what type of pie do you keep in your pocket?!)
- Go for a walk and make a game of it – search for random items on your walk (something red and spiky?) or even come up with some silly ways to move (backwards, hopping, skipping, have a race).
- Play ‘I spy’ or ‘I went to the shop’ or even ‘Mallet’s Mallet word association game’ – a game you play when you’re small, you can play when you’re big too!
- Instead of sitting down, go for a walking meeting! Doing something out of the ordinary like this feels a bit naughty and like we’re playing a game. Make it even better with a trip to the coffee shop on the way!
- At work, introduce fancy dress days for charity! Get a prize for the best outfit and display photos of the winners on a board. You’ll find people communicating better and a bit of competition makes it even more fun!
- Surprise your loved ones with a trip out somewhere or a meal out – let your playful side interrupt the daily grind!
How can it help me?
Playing unlocks our creative sides and wakes up the brain cells. We can come up with new ideas when we do them in a different way. Play is the highest form of research – all these items we use every day were discovered because someone decided to have a play and use their imagination. Then they dared to put their ideas out there.
Which brings us to life coaching. In every one of my sessions, we always have a discussion about what makes you feel good. About how you can incorporate your early childhood passions back into your life. Finding the balance between the responsibilities you have, and the downtime you so desperately need.
If you’re struggling to find your playful side, maybe life got in the way. Our subconscious minds form when we are small, and we go through life believing that everything is fixed a certain way. That there’s no way to change. Our beliefs are set in stone. But it’s not true. You can choose to unblock whatever is holding you back by accessing Hypnotherapy. It’s a powerful tool that helps you release those limiting beliefs and get back to who you truly are. Because in the end, you are that lovable, passionate child with a playful side, that just happens to be in a grown-up body.