Occasionally during my work as a therapist, a younger client will mention something about how being an adult does not really seem like fun. I recall being younger and thinking basically the same thing. Now that my friends and I are all adults, I’m grateful to have reached this place in my life, though I do find that in general things can lack the playfulness they had before we found ourselves surrounded by commitments – that is, unless we prioritize our playfulness.
What’s the point of being playful? Aside from the pleasure of having a good time (which may be all the motivation you need), there are many benefits to playfulness in adults, including:
- Promoting creativity and flexible thinking
- Leading a more fulfilling life
- Improving cognitive health as you age
- Decreasing risk of developing age-related diseases
- Increasing problem solving skills
Okay, so we know that playfulness has benefits, but if you are someone who’s been stuck in a rigid routine that has not included playfulness as a part of it, you may be wondering what it might look like to actually incorporate this into your life as an adult. Here are some ideas you can try to get started:
- Join a social group that focuses on something you enjoy, like art or a recreational sport.
- Try something new. This could mean going somewhere different, eating food you have never tried before, or picking up a new hobby.
- Practice building an attitude of appreciation through gratitude exercises. Focus on being more joyful.
- Make time to laugh. Whether it’s watching a funny video, reading a cartoon strip, or spending time with your funniest friend, laughter releases endorphins, which help us to feel good and even relieve pain.
- Express yourself! Whether it’s through dancing, singing, drawing, writing, playing music, or whatever you choose, making time to express yourself can encourage playfulness.
- Create unstructured time focused on being playful. This might mean carving out 30 minutes a day where you can choose to go for a walk, practice hula hooping, try your hand at origami, and so on. Dedicating time to develop playfulness in your life on a regular basis, whether it is every day or even once a week, can make a difference.
Still not sure how to be more playful? Try watching children play or reflect on your own childhood to recall some of the ways you used to enjoy spending time. While the activities may not be the same, reflecting on how we used to spend time can remind us that we were in fact playful at one time, and we can be again!