“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw
When it comes to health and wellness, we see the same topics discussed ad nauseum: nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress (finally lol). But how often do we discuss the health benefits of PLAYING?
Once we grow up, play can be perceived as unproductive, useless or even accompany feelings of guilt. Plus we tend to be short on time with all of our responsibilities.
Dr. Stuart Brown, head of a nonprofit called National Institute for Play, wrote the book "Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.” Dr. Brown's (and many others) research is showing lack of play to relate directly to factors like poor coping skills, anxiety, health and even as a predictor of criminal behavior - among other equal factors.
"Play is something done for its own sake," Brown says. "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."
The (Serious) Benefits
Too often, I see people nailing their macros, training 5-6 days per week & ticking off the "must-do's" checklist - but who are stuck & frustrated. They scratch their heads when I ask what they do for fun or when they last played. Inevitably, when they start prioritizing this simple piece, their progress rebounds.
Takeaway: Regularly find time to play and remember that you are physiologically wired to benefit from it - so give yourself permission to enjoy it!