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Why Play Is Important: Boost Vitality & Reduce Stress

Dr. Scott, and Dr. Ellen Antoine jumping in the air

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Summer is the perfect time to harness the more relaxed and carefree vibes of the season to give yourself a boost! We’re sharing our expert insights on why play is important, and how it may help boost vitality and reduces stress.

There’s no doubt that stress reduction is one of the most important areas you can focus on when trying to improve your health. Chronic stress can lead us to a place where we feel drained, low energy, uninspired, and stuck in a rut, no matter how well we’re eating or sleeping.

If you find yourself struggling with stress, take some time off, even if it’s a 20 minute break. It’s time to play!

Everyone knows play is both fun and beneficial, but have you ever stopped to consider how truly powerful it is and how crucial for wellness?

two adults playing outside

Play: An Essential Nutrient in the Diet of Life

I’d like to see what kind of shift could happen if doctors started writing more prescriptions for play! I think it would come with some dramatic results.

Compulsively doing what we think we should be doing (even if it’s something we enjoy doing!) can come at a cost. It can make us feel limited and trapped, and uninspired.

When it comes to play, it’s not about doing what you should do. It’s about switching it up to give yourself an energy boost.

I love this definition of play by Dr. Stuart Brown, who heads up the National Institute of Play.

“Play is something done for its own sake. It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

Play shouldn’t be reserved for kids. Here are just a few ways play benefits your health, body, and mind!

  • Helps us to get back in touch with our true selves, the selves we were before we had so many obligations and responsibilities.
  • Releases stagnant energy, physical and mental.
  • Is powerful enough to rewire the brain for more energy.
  • Liberates and activates. It’s a gateway to vitality, generates optimism and boosts the immune system.
  • Develops resiliency, the ability to bounce back from stressors, both metabolic and emotional.
  • Allows us to let go of ego, embrace intuition, express ourselves and is fundamentally rewarding. It amplifies our own inner light and lifts others up in the process.
  • Reconnects us with joy. It allows us to feel inherently alive, and radiant.
  • Reconnects the body and mind to the present moment and disconnects from worry and fear.
  • Allows the body to release tension and reduces stress.
  • Moves you from headspace to heart space.
  • Is an embrace of life.

Life is full enough of demands and obligations that can start to suck the life out of us. We need more carefree moments!

What defines play may be different for everyone, but at its most basic level, it’s just FUN. It’s fun, but it’s not entertainment.

Play comes from within you, while entertainment happens to you. Entertainment springs from someone else’s creativity, while play arises out of your own.

So, while it might be “fun” to go to the movies or a concert, those things aren’t really categorized as play.

Maybe play is just taking a more playful approach to everyday tasks or doing something that you love, lights you up, and energizes you. Either way, it allows you to reconnect to your vitality each day.

a person playing with their dog

When you are playful, you rewire your brain into a more passionate, more energetic, and more alive way of being in the world.

Need some inspiration? Take some inspiration from childhood, when play was all you knew! Try playing tag or having a race with your kids, throw the frisbee, have a water balloon fight. Get outside and play with your dog.

Pretend you’re on vacation. Keep one weekend a month free from chores and obligations so you can relax like you’re on vacation. Go out for breakfast. Explore different areas of your city. Take a day trip.

Be more spontaneous. Do more fun things on a whim. Spontaneity is way more playful than planning!

Those are just a few ideas I came up with that aren’t tied to any accomplishments or goals. It’s just play for its own sake, and like Dr. Brown, I think there’s something to that.

Ask yourself what activities make you feel playful and alive, then do more of them! Take time to engage in playful activities that will make you feel alive and improve your connections with others as well as yourself. These activities are every bit as important as your obligations when it comes to energy and vitality. Don’t ignore this essential nutrient!

What are your favorite ways to play? Share your great ideas with others, in the comments!

You can book an appointment by clicking here. We are also happy to speak with you at (317) 989-8463, Monday-Thursday, from 8AM – 5PM Eastern time.

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40 North Rangeline Rd. Carmel, IN 46032

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