Play Is Good for Your Mental Health
Play is an established pattern of behavior in all animals. For example, dogs are tireless players. No matter how old a dog is, you can always get it to play some kind of game. Although it isn’t the same for humans, it’s been proven that play is good for your mental health.
In humans, play seems to be relegated to childhood or restricted to certain areas. Indeed, adults have a tendency to disregard play in favor of long lists of tasks to carry out. Or they become spectators instead of participants. This is why televised competitions and reality shows are so popular.
As a matter of fact, eliminating play from our lives is a big mistake. Anthropologist, J. Huizinga coined the expression “homo ludens”. In his book, he suggests that play is an essential part of being human. Obviously, in adults, play isn’t a spontaneous and permanent activity as it is in children.
“Life is a game, play it.”
Play is good for your mental health
Even though you might not notice it, there’s always a part of you that wants to play. In other words, you want to carry out enjoyable and useless activities simply for the fun of it. In fact, in adult life, play has exactly the same benefits as it does for children. It helps you to socialize, learn, and be better equipped to face reality.
Many young people between the ages of 25 and 35 say that video games are their entertainment of choice. Indeed, this is the section of the population (more specifically teenagers) that video games are most popular with. There’s nothing wrong with these kinds of games. However, they’re rather limiting, since they’re usually played alone. In fact, more than having fun, people are entertained by them. They help pass the time.
For other adults, watching football matches or TV contests meet their need for play. On the other hand, some turn play into an obsession and turn to gambling. This is actually a distortion, or perversion, of play. In addition, the satisfaction people are able to achieve from gambling is offset by the possibility of an even greater dose of suffering.
Freedom and commitments
Many adults think that play is a waste of time. They believe that adult life should be full of “serious” activities associated with work and commitment. These people tend to standardize the way in which they access playful activities by simply choosing to be spectators. For example, at the cinema or theater.
However, travel has been gaining importance due to the fact that it represents one of the few spaces in which it’s possible to play. Because play involves getting you involved in something that doesn’t have a practical purpose. It allows new aspects of your personality to emerge. You can be amazed. You can laugh.
When you allow room in your life for play, you can learn a lot. A full life involves both commitments and freedoms. For this reason, you should always make space for love, work, play, and thinking. In fact, a harmonious combination of these aspects equals good mental health.
Learning to play again
Adult games aren’t the same as children’s games, at least not in form. That’s because adults don’t find the idea of playing hopscotch or tag for hours on end too appealing. In fact, adult play needs to incorporate enthusiasm, joy, and creativity. We’ve never forgotten these important feelings.
Anything artistic, provided it’s not being done for any economic reason, is a good example of adult play. For example, music, painting, theater, dance, and all artistic disciplines are suitable games for all ages. The best kind of play is that which involves cooperation and a group. In fact, you don’t really know someone until you play with them.
Ideally, play should always take place in a warm and welcoming atmosphere in small democratic groups. They need to allow spontaneity and discourage criticism and over-competitiveness. Your mind and body continually need time to play. Play helps you grow and be a better person. Therefore, if you want a better life, go ahead and play something you enjoy.
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Maturana, H. R., & Verden-Zöller, G. (2003). Amor y juego: fundamentos olvidados de lo humano, desde el patriarcado a la democracia. JC Sáez Editor.