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Monday, May 18, 2020

9 Ways That Play Can Keep Spirits Alive During Times of Stress

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Are you a little stressed lately? Modern life is typically hectic and stressful, and play can quickly fall off the list of things for which we make time. Right now, many of us have plenty of time and are experiencing a ton of unprecedented stress. Engaging in play, whether it's with your significant other, pets, children, or others who live in your household is a way to keep spirits up during these trying times. And there's no need to make play a complicated endeavor that feels like one more task to be completed. Throw a Frisbee in the backyard, hang out on your backyard playground equipment, indulge in dress up, or play fetch with your dog. Any of these activities are fun and will help you and your family reap the benefits of playing.

1. Play triggers the body's natural feel-good hormones and chemicals.

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Play can lift the spirits because even 30 minutes unlocks your body's feel-good hormones. These include endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. What do these chemicals have in common? They reduce stress, increase your sense of happiness, and make people feel alive.

2. Laughter releases endorphins to promote positive feelings.

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Need a quick burst of endorphins to brighten your mood? Try laughing. Studies have proven that laughing leads to a significant increase in endorphins and other opioid peptides. These chemicals are released in the parts of the brain controlling emotional regulation.

3. Play and laughter with loved ones can foster empathy, trust, kindness, and connection.

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Sometimes too much togetherness can strain familial relationships. One way to rebuild fraying bonds is to indulge in shared play. Having fun together and sharing light-hearted moments fosters good feelings, and restores connections between loved ones. Designing areas that foster family play will encourage spontaneous outbreaks of group play! Contact local outdoor play equipment companies and stores to design an area for your yard.

4. "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

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Famed playwright George Bernard Shaw is the source of the quote and it still rings true today. No one is ever too old to engage in play. Play has a multitude of physical and mental health benefits that keep our bodies and our spirit young!

5. Play engages the mind and encourages creativity.

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Research has proven that play is the best way for young children to learn. Guess what? That same principle applies to adults. Adults, just like children, learn new tasks best when they are relaxed, and learning the skill is fun. Play also serves to activate the imagination, and an active imagination helps improve adaptation and problem-solving skills.

6. Need to boost productivity? Try playing.

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Play can seem like a distraction from our to-do lists and projects. Actually, it's just the opposite. The creative part of the brain engages during play and that little voice in your head, which regularly critiques your efforts? Play helps shut that down. A play break often will refresh your mind and leave you in the right frame of mind to approach an existing problem in a new way.

7. Play helps children and adults learn cooperation.

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Need a dose of positive socialization? Try play! Play encourages children and adults to get along, work together in a group, and follow agreed-upon rules.

8. Play is an excellent way to manage stress in a healthy manner.

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Feeling stressed? Combat it with play. Fun is a natural stress reliever! The endorphins released while playing also increases your sense of well-being.

9. Play can help heal trauma.

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Unfortunately many people have experienced a trauma at some point in their lives that affects their health in many ways. Play is an excellent way to restore emotional balance and work through emotional trauma. Engaging in playful behaviors leads to positive psychological health benefits for children and adults. Someone struggling with emotional problems benefits from playing with an emotionally secure partner, and often that shared play will help reshape behaviors.

As adults, when you play together, you are engaging in precisely the same patterns of behavior that positively shape the brains of children. These same playful behaviors that predict emotional health in children can also lead to positive changes in adults. If an emotionally-insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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