DfE approved Senior Mental Health Lead Training AVAILABLE

The Importance of Play for Grown-Ups

Did you know?

Play is not all fun and games!

Watch any documentary about young animals and you will expect to see chasing, climbing, jumping and play fighting… over and over and over again. The evolutionary reason for this is because play releases dopamine and endorphins – the feel good hormones which are highly addictive. And that repetition is vital because it is the key to learning. Play actually teaches us things we need to know without a conscious and burdensome sense of this purpose. 


Two birds too many

The phrase two birds with one stone is not a particularly pleasant image that refers to us being able to tick off two things with the same action. When we are in a play state, ticking things off couldn’t be further from our minds which ensures that we are in the moment and fully present. The irony is, that within that state we are actually far more likely to positively impact on our physical and mental health in the long term. Try to avoid loading enjoyment with items from your ‘to do’ list and ringfence some time where it’s all play and no work!

Ditch the chair

Being a grown up involves a lot of sitting in a chair. Most of us work in a chair, drive in a chair, socialise in a chair… When we want to increase our status, we sit up in our chair and straighten our backs. If we feel we need to be in charge of our emotions, we sit ourselves down. Sitting on a chair becomes synonymous with being a grown up! Children, on the other hand, can’t wait to get out of their chairs as we well know. And this is because the flow of play seems much more natural when standing up or sprawling on the floor. Give it a go!

Choose your play mates

Children and young animals are biologically programmed to find states of play as they are in the most intensive developmental phase. If, as an adult, you aren’t sure how to go about playing, spending time with these youngsters can give you a good model. Don’t be misled into thinking you don’t like playing based on the specific activities your guide enjoys – you might not like rolling in the mud for example! Imitating their sense of freedom and adventure to find the things that do work for you is often a good way forward.