“Men do not quit playing because they grow old. They grow old because they quit playing.”- Oliver Windell Holmes
How many times has someone told you to act your age? I always found this to be confusing since there is really no accurate model or measuring tool to judge what a person should act like at a certain age. When it comes to play beyond age 10, there are no benchmarks, no way to measure what a 37 year old woman should act like.
As children, if we are lucky, we are allowed to and even encouraged to play. Somewhere in the space between adolescence and adulthood (a debatable time frame indeed), we become focused on work and responsibility. Play takes the role of a lesser priority. There is simply less time and more obligations. Like other self-care activities, like healthy eating, exercise and sleep, play has many benefits to strengthen and lengthen our lives.
Some lifelong benefits of play are:
- Play fosters creativity, flexibility, and learning
- Play is an inexpensive and drug-free antidote to anxiety, depression, and isolation
- Play connects us to others
- Play teaches perseverance
- Play teaches us how to lose gracefully
- Play makes us happy
Do you remember how to play? Do you know what made your heart soar and brought pure delight? Do you know what your partner loves to play? Have you played with him or her since you were dating or since the kids came? Playing with your partner brings joy, drops defenses, heals old wounds, fosters connection, and builds trust to try new things. Play provides the context for learning about our partners and ourselves.
It is human nature to play. When we are able to be in the moment and enjoy our play, there are no boundaries, no repression, just joy. We are not thinking about the past or planning for the future. We are able to be present with that moment on our lives.
Do not spend time or money searching for the fountain of youth. It is inside you. Play in it!
Written by: Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT
Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapy, family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield