Find the Inner Child & Play more!

Hello Gang!

Ste from Movement & Maintenance here… the LYS resident Sports Therapist!

Here is my monthly update for you all.

In the current stressful times, I would like to use this message to talk about and reiterate some of the benefits of regular play and exercise.

For thousands of years animals have moved for survival, food, and play. In the last 100 years or so, humans have become bogged down with statistics in the form of reps, sets, weight, and calorie intake to name a few. However, we often forget to add playfulness within our exercise regime. 

Play can come in any form, and it really is up to the person to decide what works for them. Some examples include, climbing trees, being one with nature, juggling, primal movement, or learning any new skill. Playfulness leads to creative thinking and smarter decision-making. Also, play offers the relatively unique chance to allow exercise to challenge both our analytical and creative aspects of thinking. When it comes to critical thinking, play and exercise offers greater mental firepower to aid in making complex decisions. While our routine ways of exercising, thinking, and acting may be useful, as well as comforting and familiar, they often prevent us from growing and adapting. Research shows that the prevention of growth, and adaptation can lead to depression, anxiety, stale relationships, and ultimately boredom.

Playfulness and exercise allows us to battle worry and anxiety successfully with curiosity and passion.

With the addition of play into our routine increases freedom and optionality. When we play, we tend to look at things in different and new ways, often because the particular game or new situation forces us too. The ability to see new connections between seemingly unrelated things is the hallmark of creativity. Regular play is a powerful tool to see the world with new eyes. In terms of current relationships in our lives, it is evident that play can make our existing relationships more intimate and meaningful. Which suggests play may be the antidote to loneliness. 

Furthermore, it is counterintuitive. We often associate play with superficiality and childishness, but play allows us to be vulnerable and intimate when it may otherwise be difficult for us. As adults, our mind is constantly analysing, judging, comparing, predicting, hypothesizing, problem-solving, goal setting, and any number of other productive mindsets we’ve been trained so well to operate within. And while these work mode mindsets are incredibly valuable and important, they’re exhausting if we can never shift out of them. While there are a variety of techniques to help you downshift out of work mode a little more often and give yourself a break such as mindfulness and deep breathing, there’s one way to genuinely unwind, relax, and get out of that exhausting mental work mode that almost all adults forget about. Play.

The trouble is many of the activities we adults think of as play aren’t really playful.

Watching Netflix may be entertaining, but is it really playful? Going out and getting a beer with your buddy after work is enjoyable, but is it really playful?

The key factor that separates playfulness from other forms of seemingly relaxing, stress-reducing forms of downtime is novelty. Far from the mind-numbing quality of most of our adult diversions from work, genuine play is radically stimulating, thought-provoking, and challenging even. The key difference is that it’s challenging and novel in a different way. In a way that isn’t seriously goal-oriented or pressure-filled.

A few examples:

• Learn a new instrument.

• Join a city-league team for a sport you haven’t played since childhood.

• Take a watercolour class.

• Go hiking in a new area.

• Try a new board game.

• Make a home video.

• Create a new playlist.

To finish, through ‘play’, we can communicate intent or possibility in a multi-layered, and at times, ambiguous contexts. Graham and Burghardt (2010) have critically discussedevidence for functional benefits of play including the development of motor skills, training for unexpected events, practice, and social benefits.

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