We all have a natural desire to play – to laugh, have fun, and even be a little silly – so it’s great that play offers so many benefits for our mental health and well-being. Being playful can help our relationships, job, and mood. When we are genuinely laughing and having fun with others, we release stress, build connections, and give our brains a break. Playing can spark our creativity and imagination. For children, playing gives them a chance to digest everyday experiences, learn social skills, develop an identity, and boost confidence. Thankfully, we can easily add play to our day. Children can remind us best what it means to laugh and be playful. They are quick to embrace simple joys. Jumping in puddles. Singing at the top of their lungs. Chasing bubbles. In one squeal of delight, children teach us so much – to let go, be present, enjoy the moment, and allow ourselves to play. Let’s get back to more skipping, dancing, and running with airplane arms. The positive impacts are countless.
In today’s Wellness Wednesday, we add play to our day.
As a class, group, or family:
· Ask everyone to think of the last time they played or felt playful? How did they feel? What do they remember about that experience? Invite people to share some examples.
· Most of us would say that when we played, we were present in the moment, we laughed or smiled, and we enjoyed just doing something fun without thinking about anything else. After, perhaps we felt lighter, calmer, our brains felt clear. If we played with someone, we probably felt more connected to them.
· Next, watch the video “Train Passengers Sing Over the Rainbow!” by The Liberators (https://youtu.be/xctzp0dp9uc 4:37).
· When it ends, talk about what happened while you watched the video and how you feel now. For most of us, we smiled and started laughing as we watched. By the end, we likely felt happy or joyful.
· Brainstorm some ways to add play to the day. The goal is to think of activities that allow us to be playful and silly, even a little goofy. All ideas are welcomed and encouraged. Even everyday can be playful. Next time we make a grocery list, include the family and have a scavenger hunt around the kitchen and cupboards. Cleaning up? Put on a song and turn it into a cleaning party! Adding play in our day means we find ways to include a little fun in our routine. Adding some playfulness to our day is one of the easiest ways to feel content and spread joy.
Ask yourself, there is no wrong answer:
How do I feel after playing?
What do I notice about my heart, face, smile, mood?
When was the last time I was playful or silly?
Connecting to our faith:
“Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.” (Psalm 33:12)
God wants us to enjoy his creation, to play in it, to laugh.
“Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that our hearts become free and filled with light, so that we can rejoice as children of God.” (Pope Francis)
· BOOK: "The Memory Of Play" by Camryn Wells and Eleanor Loseby
· ADULT BOOK: "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence J. Cohen · ARTICLE: “Playfulness is good for your mental health” https://luminohealth.sunlife.ca/s/article/How-playfulness-is-good-for-your-mental-health?language=en_US