How Play Can Be of Great Benefit in Your Life
The Positive Impact Creative Play Has Had In My Own Life
How play can be of great benefit in your life has been inspired by my own experiences over the years. As creative play has been a major part of my life since childhood and over the years has been a saving grace in challenging times. I’ve been a shy introverted person most of my life and I suppose it is only been in the last ten years I’ve come out of my shell. I put this down to expressing more of my creative abilities through my role as a self-employed Spirit and Intuitive Artist.
However, when as a child I had the opportunity to create in school or at home where I spent most of my time playing and creating on my own, an inner confidence would rise within me. It was during these creative play periods I would feel safe, powerful and expansive.
At that time, I didn’t realise or understand how the power of creative play was actually impacting me so positively. This realisation only began to dawn on me whilst working in the childcare industry, caring for young children in nurseries (kindergartens) or children centres.
Where I witnessed first-hand how play was directing a child’s learning and understanding of themselves and their place in the world. The time spent playing with the children was one of the most cathartic periods of my life. It enabled me to really tune into my own inner child, that part of us that never grows up and needs our attention daily through some sort of playful or creative interaction.
On studying child psychology as part of attaining my childcare certification, I came to learn the significance play and the major impact it had on a child. One that enabled the child become a happy, emotionally balanced and creative individual, who is not afraid to express themselves.
The Inner Child
Unfortunately, the encouragement to play and be creative as we get older and reach adulthood seems to be put on the back burner, as the focus becomes more about achieving, duty and responsibility. Leaving little or no quality time to be playful and creative, unless a concerted effort is made to do so by the individual.
As I mentioned above, we all have an inner child, this aspect of self that always yearns to play, create, explore, experiment and have fun. Yet as adults we can ignore these yearnings, because of the belief play is just for children. Shying away from being childlike, in fear of ridicule or being seen as childish. This however could not be further from the truth!
Our inner child aspect governs our health and well-being. Ignoring this aspect can lead to emotional and mental issues, then eventually physical problems. Therefore, it is imperative to re-introduce play back into our lives in one way or another to live a more harmonious and fulfilling life.
How Play Improves Your Health And Brain Capacity
It has also been scientifically proven that play helps to expand the capacity of brain function. Creating new neuropathways.
These neuropathways are responsible for experiencing greater awareness, higher inspiration, new thought patterns and behaviours that constitute positive interactions and deeper connection to self and the external world. As new neuropathways are created it enables us to discover solutions and innovations to implement in our life that not only impacts us, but who we connect with.
Dr Stuart Brown Our Founder – National Institute for Play (nifplay.org) made it his life’s work to study the power of play and how it affects our health and well-being. Emphasising the importance of it in everyone’s life no matter what age. In his book Free Play: How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination and Invigorates The Soul he says, “Play is the purest expression of love”.
So, what does he mean by that statement? He means when playing for no particular reason when it is purposeless, when the pressure is not present to perform or do it a certain way, it allows us to relax and just be ourselves. When in a relax state, we don’t have the same barriers, walls or defences up that block receiving the love that we are beyond our humanness. Therefore, we are able to accept and surrender to what is, aligning us with truth and love in its highest and purest form.
Some Of The Benefits Of Play
- Reduces fear, stress and anxiety
- Allow us to learn new skills in a non-pressured situation
- Help us to develop positive social interactions
- Cultivates pleasure, happiness and a joyful outlook
- Improves focus and productivity
- Balances the emotions
- Opportunity to research, explore, experiment, in a fun non serious manner
- Create innovations
- Improves our ability to improvise and become more resourceful in difficult or sudden unexpected situations
- Connects us to the here and now
- Assists with feeling grounded
- Builds confidence
- Helps us to see life more objectively
- Opens us up to be vulnerable
- Experience a sense of freedom
- Allows us to express our uniqueness, weirdness and desire to just be silly
- Let go of the need to always achieve, progress or be successful
- Overcome the fear of failure
- Learn we are enough just from existing alone before any achieving
- Strengthens the ability to be curious and courageous
- Encourages us to come out of the comfort zone (or stifle zone as I like to call it!)
These are just a few of the many benefits to play, however we can begin to recognise now how it not only allows us to enjoy life, but also benefits our health and well-being at the same time.
What Play Teaches
Play teaches us to be more open-minded to see things from a wider perspective or the bigger picture and thus enables us be less limited in how we live our life. To realise that experiences and situations, things or people, or even ourselves, are not fixed or rigid. There is always room for growth, expansion and greater awareness and understanding of what is going on. It invites us to be like a treasure hunter, an adventurer who seeks to discover the buried treasure that often requires a little digging under the surface of things. To go on a journey of discovery whether that be a solitary activity or through interaction with others.
There are many programmes on tv and social media posts showcasing creatives who re-purpose what we often see as junk, or what we no longer have use for. So, it just goes to show there is so much potential and possibility to be experienced in everything. It is through play or creative play that helps us to realise this and tap into this for ourselves.
Play also enables us to really start to appreciate all that we do have, the abundance in our everyday present experience, dissipating that sense of lack we may feel. In actual fact, a sense of lack can derive from an absence of play or fun, indicating more of this is needed.
Creative & Playful Activities
If you are wishing to implement more fun, creativity and play into your life then here are some simple childlike suggestions to kickstart your creative and play adventures:
- Jump in puddles
- Take photos of the sky in puddles
- Play with playdough
- Blow bubbles
- Learn to juggle with two or three tennis or plastic balls
- Create bubble paintings: Squirt a little washing up liquid in a pot then add some poster paint of your choice of colour. Add a little more paint than washing up liquid then a small amount of water until it is a runny consistency. Use a straw and blow into the paint so the bubbles reach the top of the pot. Place a sheet of paper over the paint bubbles. Be mindful this is a messy activity so cover any surfaces to protect from spilling or splashes.
- Create a paper weave: Decorate two sheets of paper 12×12 cm with simple marks either with felt pens or pencil crayons e.g.; dots, dashes, crosses, waves, swirls or any mark of your choice. Cut one sheet into equal strips then with the other sheet cut slits into it, leaving a centimetre space from the edge of the paper and with equal spaces in between such as 1.5 cm apart. Then with your strips weave them in between each slit.
- Play Frisbee with a friend or family member
- Cloud watch
- Create simple mono prints: get a plastic shopping bag or any plastic bag not been used, use some poster paint the colour of your choice. Spread the poster paint thinly with a brush on the plastic bag and with your finger draw shapes or patterns in it. Place a sheet of paper over the top of your paint drawing and rub. Peel off to reveal the print.
- Fly a kite
- Dance with a ribbon on a stick to the music of your choice
- Make hand or foot prints with poster paints: decorate with a black felt pen with patterns, for inspiration look at Indian henna patterns There are lots of henna patterns online to give you inspiration.
- Upload a game on tablet or android mobile
- Do puzzles such as wordsearch, codebreakers or crosswords
- Skip in nature
- Do bark rubbings
- Hug trees
The list could go on; however, this just gives you a starting point, allow your imagination to start flowing. Be open to receive inspiration and follow through on the promptings.
Further Exploration Through Creative Play
If you wish to further your creative and play endeavours whilst receiving support, I would like to invite you to my free Interactive Art play event I’m holding. This event is an introduction into using a playful and creative approach to connecting to your intuition. Here is the link to learn more:
Eileen Burns23 November 2022 at 5:47 pm
Brilliant blog Janine and great suggestions, I know this is something I teach my relaxation therapist students. As so many adults don’t have hobbies as such, don’t make time for play
Janine Keall24 November 2022 at 11:43 am
Thank you Eileen. It is great you teach the importance of this with your relaxation students.