When you’re stressed or depressed – it’s easy to get stuck.
Yes, well there’s exercise, there’s mindfulness, there’s all the sensible, practical “solutions” .
But after 6 months of lockdown, it’s getting where we need to pull out all stops…..
and PLAY!!! It’s time to channel our inner 7 year olds…
Play is good for you – in lots of ways
I have a 91 year old patient – she and her carer play a game of Scrabble before her carer helps her with dinner. In her wisdom, she understands the importance of play.
Play is another area where today’s neuroscience is contradicting 20th century “shoulds” about the need for us to be serious and practical and sensible and productive. (Which every kindergarten teacher has known for decades, of course.)
In fact, play is now confirmed as being fundamental if you want to increase your productivity, creativity, well-being and physical health.
So take some to remember your pre-COVID life and think about how you played, where you played and what you played at. COVID safe play may need a bit of tweaking of course but the challenge to discover and implement is worthwhile.
Look for ways to include play into your life NOW (not “when things get back to normal”). Keep screen time minimal.
So what IS play?
While every kid knows automatically what play is (and isn’t) we adults probably need a bit of reminder of what makes play really PLAY.
- Fundamentally purposeless (inherently done for its own sake – not just for some practical value)
- Voluntary – not an obligation or a duty
- Inherently attractive – you want do it because it’s fun and it makes you feel good
- Free from time – when we’re playing, we lose our awareness of time and its passing
- Diminishes our self-consciousness – we stop worrying about how we look or how we’ll be judged
- High in improvisation – we’re not locked into a process – we experiment, improvise and make space for serendipity
- High in continuation desire – we want to do more of it because its truly pleasurable (ever seen kids play themselves to exhaustion)
Source: Play: how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul by Stuart Brown. Scribe Publications, 2009
So it can be useful to check into whether your current “re-creations” are actually play-full – and explore how they could be more so…
For me this is embodied by table tennis – it ticks all my boxes. https://sites.google.com/site/monbulktabletennis.
For you it could be crafting or gardening or singing or fishing or woodworking.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
Explore how to bring play into your life now, today – rather than just sinking into sullen endurance.
Because we’re in this for the long haul, this is unlikely to be our last lockdown – so let’s adapt rather than tolerate.
Some videos for inspiration