Now we have constant work and stress, we HAVE to unwind.
When we are children as soon as a class is finished we run outside and play. We release and have fun. This is what our brain needs to do as adults.
I had thought that watching TV and scrolling through social media was relaxing for me. It isn’t, it doesn’t relax the brain. The quick moving images and the blue-light screens reduce the quality of our rest. It may make it hard to blue light can affect your sleep. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. The evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Not all colours of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.
In our hectic, modern lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and family commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stopped playing. When we carve out some leisure time, we’re more likely to zone out in front of the TV or computer than engage in fun, rejuvenating play as we did as children. But just because we’re adults, that doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves so seriously and make life all about work. We all need to play.
Play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a sure (and fun) way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.
Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life. A good activity to help relax and stimulate fun is a creative project. By making art instead of consuming life passively from the couch or running around hectically from sunrise to sunset the mind gets to recharge. “Playtime” can be dancing, playing an instrument, painting, writing, sewing or colouring.
“Life is what happens while we are busy worrying about everything. Slow down, get mindful, and enjoy the moment. These moments are your life” – Lori Deschene
Get your body moving in nature. It feels good for you. Even micro-moments can help. Take a step into nature anyway that you can. Connecting with nature is vital to reconnecting with our inner selves, and decompressing from a busy week. It is most vital as an antidote to technology overload. The health benefits of spending time in nature, as a form of digital detox, is immense. Not only does it significantly de-stress and relax the mind, but helps rejuvenate the spirit. There are many well-documented benefits to spending time in nature, such as an improvement in short-term memory, with many people finding improvements in memory after taking short ten minute walks daily. The science is simple, oxygen kicks the body and circulation into action, thus causing a decrease in headaches and fatigue, which in turn creates the more clear vision, and decreased levels of inflammation in the body.
While play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable. You can play on your own or with a pet, but for greater benefits, play should involve at least one other person, away from the sensory-overload of electronic gadgets.
Technology is everywhere – from smartphones and tablets to wearable devices and multifunctioning computers. It is hard to “play” whilst using technology. Choose to unplug and disconnect, put down our devices and make it a deliberate decision. Often we work with emails, social media and computers. We then come home and scroll through our personal accounts, and maybe reconnect into work devices. We often don’t know how to relax and unplug. We also don’t realise how much time we spend in front of screens. We become afraid of missing out on experiences. Though we are really missing out because we are too busy trying to take the perfect photo or write the perfect post, instead of just being there to enjoy the moment. Often technology may give us a free pass to be rude (texting during dinner). We would all be happier if we spent more time face-to-face and less time face-to-screen.
Relieve stress –Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Improve brain function –Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity –Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improve relationships and your connection to others –Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations.
How to play more?
Incorporating more fun and play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships, as well as your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. It’s true what they say – laughter is really the best medicine. Laughter makes you feel good. And the positive feeling that comes from laughter and having fun remains with you even after the giggles subside. Play and laughter help you retain a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
Try to clear your schedule for an afternoon or evening, for example, and then turn off your phone, TV, computer, and other devices. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you’ve allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, something you haven’t done since you were a kid, perhaps. And enjoy the change of pace.