Adults are often encouraged to “grow up”. We are told to act our age and start thinking realistically. However, as an individual who’s entire career, though varied roles, has been with children, I believe and have felt to my core the benefits of staying “childlike”.
Oxford languages states play as “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”
Currently I am a behavioral therapist who works with children on the Autism spectrum. Our day to day entirely resolves around play and finding what motivates our kids most! Before we’re able to have successful behavioral interventions, we must build the initial rapport with each client. Each day and week this process is continued to ensure the success rates increase of POSITIVE behaviors. Typically this is found through play of exciting toys, stimulating exercise, or high rates of touch like hugs, squeezes, and tickling.
Children, and maybe more so adults, are better engaged when fun is had and responsibility is taken away for a while. As functioning adults, we work 40+ hours a weeks, balance kids and a spouse all while trying to find what fuels our personal fires.
You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup
While our play may not look like dolls or playing chase in the yard, the idea is the same. Moving your body and imagination allows for stress to be relieved, new ideas to be created, and fellowship to be had. Things such as reading, working out, baking, and meditating are ways I detox from the mundane tasks of daily living.
Adults tend to feel guilty for taking a break or walking away. There’s always something we can be doing to get our ducks in a row. However, when we take a stand and prioritize ourselves, we feel better and the people who depend on us most do too. Taking care of yourself shows other generations the fruit of taking time to regroup. So go! Play! And watch the way your heart becomes more engaged with everything around you.
My Idea of Play
As a workout enthusiast, I run 4 days a week, go on multiple walks with my dog, and am a member of a dance studio. This is my play! On weeks I don’t work out and move I feel more sluggish. I am less productive and my mind is so easily clouded it’s not even funny. Physical activity has become my therapy and saving grace ever since I can remember. An avid dancer and swimmer in high school, I found great joy in making new goals, reaching PRs, and seeing how many “one mores” I could do.
My thrill for endurance has bled into many aspects of my life. My play skills have taught me the power of dedication, the importance of never giving up, and the reward of resilience. In college I turned to running, dance, and weightlifting. That’s the thing about play— there’s always something more to find. We can become so creative in our play, there’s always something new to explore!
I encourage you all to play daily and find your inner child. You may come to see you’ve missed them more than you knew. To play is not childish but childlike. And may we all see the beauty in that.
May it be the piece missing that makes you whole.
Find more from Juliana here.