Why Adults Should Have Playtime Too

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Why Adults Should Have Playtime Too

You can learn a new task better when it is fun and done in a playful manner / Photo by Getty Images


When we hear the word "play" we often associate it with kids and their love for fun activities. The modern life is very demanding and we, as adults, are all focused on work and family commitments that we do not have time to have some fun. A fun time for adults is spending it in front of the TV or computer and then dozing off afterward. In today's hectic lifestyle, play for adults is seen as childish and immature. But just because we are adults does not mean that playtime is not for us. We also need to play to make us feel refreshed and relaxed. 

The importance of play for children is very well-documented. Now, there are studies looking into the many benefits of play for adults. What the research is studying, according to The Washington Post, is that play is not just goofing off but also reducing stress and improving quality of life. 


Why do adults play?

Play is not just beneficial for kids. It can be a source of relaxation for adults too. Playing with your family, friends, relatives, and even pets is a sure way to improve, enhance, and ignite your imagination, problem-solving skills, emotional well-being, and creativity.

Adult play time is a time to forget about work and responsibilities and to be free. It does not have to be structured. You can simply laugh with friends and enjoy yourself. By giving yourself permission to be carefree for a certain moment, you can get health benefits. 

According to Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, “Play primarily evolved to teach children all kinds of skills, and its extension into adulthood may have helped to build cooperation and sharing among hunter-gathers beyond the level that would naturally exist in a dominance-seeking species.”  This means that for people before us, the play was not all about fun but also a way of keeping the peace, which was important for survival.

Lynn Barnett, a profession of recreation, sports and tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that adult play exists because it is therapeutic and there is research to prove that. 

Adults who are playful can easily adapt to different situations, even stressful ones and turn them into something fun and entertaining. Those who are open to having fun are seen to have less stress in their lives and they have better coping skills. 

“Highly playful adults feel the same stressors as anyone else, but they appear to experience and react to them differently, allowing stressors to roll off more easily than those who are less playful,” Barnett said.


How play can be helpful to adults

While we see a lot of studies on the benefits of play on a child's development and health, these are still applicable to adults. Adult play can have a positive impact on one's physical and mental health. This also includes relationships and work productivity.  Below are some of the benefits that come with adult play. 

Stress buster
During play, endorphins are released in the body. Endorphins are the happy chemicals that make a person feel good. They make you happy and improve your well-being. Endorphins can also relieve stress in the body.

Stimulate brain function
In children, learning is best retained and absorbed when it is fun. This follows for adults too. When the challenges are more interesting, adults can remember and learn more.  Playing chess, puzzles, and other fun activities that stimulate the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.

You can learn a new task better when it is fun and done in a playful manner. Play can help you adapt and solve problems better.

Improves relationships with others
When adults play with others, fun and laughter are shared. This can improve and better one's relationships with each other. Play can increase understanding, compassion, and empathy for other people. When adults play, it is easier to break the ice and make new friends. 

Social skills can also be boosted and playing is a good way to improve them. Group activities can increase teamwork, cooperation, communication, and it can even give you a new perspective.


By giving yourself permission to be carefree for a certain moment, you can get health benefits / Photo by Getty Images


Increased productivity
When we are in a good mood, we can perform better. The quality of performance and work is improved. Play can make you energetic and happy so working is more fun. Another benefit of play is being able to prevent burnout at work. Having short periods of play between breaks can refresh your mind and body, making you ready to face the day ahead.  

Attracts the opposite sex
A playful adult is more attractive to the opposite sex based on a study from Pennsylvania State University. Researchers asked 250 students on what they are looking for in a long-term partner and sense of humor came first. According to Garry Chick, lead researcher, the attraction to playfulness may be based on evolution and what we are looking for in a partner.