Sunday 15 December 2019

The wellbeing benefits of rest and play

People who play have fun in life and are fun to be around
People who play have fun in life and are fun to be around

Calodagh McCumiskey's Wellbeing & Meditation

We all need to play. It is important at all ages and stages of life. It allows children to develop their imagination dexterity, creativity and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It enables them to explore and practice different roles and prepare for life. It's important for brain development, communication skills and promoting learning.

Through play children practice and learn new sounds and words on their own and with friends. It brings fun as we engage in play alone or with others. It teaches boundaries as we all learn when it is important to intervene and when to leave children to play.

For all of us play has many lessons and benefits - developing and practicing choice, spontaneity, balance, giving us a chance to test and expand our limits. We can explore patience and understanding as we fit into others rules and worlds. Play gives a fantastic chance to connect and build relationships with others - 2 of the most important factors in happiness and longevity.

A range of studies show that play-deprived children manifest responses on a scale ranging from unhappiness to aggression. Lack of play is correlated with psychiatric disturbances and social skills. With so much stress and the range of mental health problems in our society it is an area that is good for all of us to understand and engage in.

Play is beneficial for developing skills relating to the prefrontal cortex including impulse control and the ability to curb inappropriate action. Through free play children can become more creative and adaptable. Studies have shown that psychopathologies that result in criminality can manifest in severely play deprived children. Equally, there are wonderful stories of the role of social play contributing to the healthy development of successful, creative people.

In the book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life Gray describes 'what I think is the most dramatic effect of the play deficit: the increase in childhood depression, anxiety and self-control…over the past half-century'.

Play is a powerful experience for children and adults alike. As Plato says 'You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.'

It boosts connectivity, relationships, creativity, problem solving abilities and emotional wellbeing. Through engagement and bringing you into the moment it trains us how to connect and focus without attachment. Play is a focus on the act rather than the outcome - a valuable life lesson. If we can fully engage in what we are doing, enjoying the journey not just the destination, we will do it to the best of our ability, which will ultimately bring better results.

Play teaches us how to roll with the ups and downs of life. Playing helps adults maintain social wellbeing. We develop connection. This plays out in recreation and in team building exercises in corporate offices. It helps us stay sharp. Research has shown that playing games and doing puzzles can help us maintain memory and boosts our thinking skills. When we allow ourselves to be silly at times, it helps us to not take ourselves or our life too seriously which helps us laugh and bounce back from most of life's difficulties.

Play reminds us how things change and can bring excitement to life. People who play have fun in life and are fun to be around. All work and no play makes us all a whole lot duller. Wishing you and yours a play rich week, reaping some of the many benefits play has to offer. Enjoy.

Wexford People

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