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  • Julie Galloway, LPC-S- RPT

You Whoooo... You Gotta Go Play

Playing isn't just for kids, it's for you too.

Play is a natural part of development for humans and animals. Without hesitation, I will state that play is an instinctive act that provides layers and layers of benefits across the life span. (Life span takes us from infancy through elderhood). Play is simple yet complex.

  • We learn how to interact with others through play. (and we WANT to play with others)

  • Play is responsible for introducing important life skills in a hands on approach.

  • Benefits our social, emotional, physical, cognitive, creative and communication well being.

  • Impacts our health, too by reducing stress and anxiety.

  • When we engaged in play we are thinking AND feeling.

Play has the ability to create moments that are full of laughter and fun but it also fosters empathy, compassion and trust.

Don't believe me yet? Keep reading.

Studies show that energized play turns on lots of genes in the brain, these genes show growth of new neural connections. And pretend play has been tied to increased cognitive flexibility and social responsively with a bonus of emotional regulation. Surprised?

One of the best parts of my job is promoting the simple changes that we can all make in our lives that provide the biggest benefits. Consistently, it is the adult client that pushes back the most. "Are you serious? and I don't have time for games." The importance of play in adulthood actually benefits 3 major areas that are often the reasons my clients seek counseling services.

  1. relationships

  2. job performance

  3. mood

But somewhere along the way, we found our leisure time in front of the TV or computer. It is time we shift back to days of old and bring back the fun...for our mental health.

Here are the facts and reasons you need to bring play back.

  1. promotes relaxation

  2. reduction of stress

  3. helps with memory retention

  4. helps with muscle tone and coordination

  5. prevents loneliness and isolation

  6. stimulates imagination which is needed for problem solving

  7. a great way to learn new tasks

  8. promotes optimism

Parents and Play

Playful parents who use toys and games, are teaching life lessons with the added benefit of decreasing stress and increasing success.There is no preaching or searching for how to say something, we won't need to find the right words or dialogue, our actions through play will model the hows and often the whys.

It really is less threatening and will reach more levels of cognition than having to explain things. Plus when we are playing we are actually more approachable basically because we are laughing and smiling.

Using play is the biggest connector between ourselves and our children...of ALL ages. Play doesn't just stop in childhood. Shifting to academics and homework responsibilities sounds like the right approach BUT it's not everything.

What's the best way to play with your children?

Allow them to lead the activity this does not mean that they get to boss you around, rather learning to play together helps our children to learn the fundamentals of negotiating and cooperation.

I get it tho...adults often have a difficult time justifying play time. If people around you don't value and prioritized play then we are most likely not going to either. However, it sure is difficult to argue with the benefits of being a playful adult.

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