BOOK: “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Brown, S. (2009)
QUOTE: “It is utterly false & cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age. ~ Margaret Mead
Playing is not only as an activity but also a state of mind which makes life enjoyable, whether we’re participating or just watching. It’s a form of release which allows us to connect with our Healthy Inner Child & the HIC of others.
Shortages of the following benefits of Play predict possible health problems & emotional fragility
“I see Play as a way for women & men to establish mental balance, & embrace a healthy form of comfort” ˜∼ Jennifer Louden, Women’s Lifestyle expert
a. is a doorway to learning – a hands-on, minds-on learning process. The components of play are the same as those of learning :
– curiosity, discovery, games, novelty, pretense, risk-taking, social etiquette, trial and error, & other increasingly complex adaptive activities
Play makes it fun to learn perseverance – the rewards for mastering a new game shows us that it’s worth sticking to something – a necessary trait for healthy adulthood.
>> Perseverance & violence are rarely found together
b. inspires us to Think Differently – Walt Disney was dedicated to play, & his willingness to buck conventional wisdom changed the world of entertainment. He didn’t let criticism get in the way of his child-like imagination.
An Apple Computers ad: “Here’s To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules & have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO !”
We’re always creating our experiences in life, so why not have some fun & develop a thirst for curiosity, like Leonardo DaVinci. The renewed sense of imagination could be endless!
c. Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s & Dementia – according to various studies – challenging your mind with mentally stimulating leisure activities is great for your brain’s health (board games, cards, crossword puzzles, reading, playing musical instruments, writing, slow walking….)
Apparently these activities trigger chemical stimulation, resulting in an increased ability to learn, & possibly the ability to deal with or compensate for physical changes linked with dementia. (CHART….)
Play takes the mind off stressors, giving the body a chance to restore itself. Seniors who participated in activities they enjoyed, once a week for about 20-years, reduced the risk of dementia by 7% or more.
❖ Reduces Stress & Enhances Energy Levels – Too much stress increases chemicals such as cortisol & nor-epinephrine, which disrupt the immune system, making us feel edgy, hostile, and can lead to heart disease.
Dr. Blair Justice, Psych professor at Texas U. says: “Playtime is also essential to help adults relieve stress. You don’t have time to make yourself sick”.
• Body Movement is most often associated with PLAY, for children & adults :
> exercise – releases sugars & fats into the bloodstream, while stimulating endorphins. It’s great for heart health, reduces hypertension & cholesterol, improves neurological & spinal problems, burns off stress-related hormones & improves sleep
> sports – When we jump on or over stuff, play football, dance, run…. we receive the pure pleasure of feeling our bodies move & work. Dr. Stewart Brown defines it as “the spontaneous desire to release ourself from gravity”
> entertainment, which is fun & soothes tensions. An online survey by RealNetworks, Inc., a ‘casual games’ developer, found: 53% play for stress relief
64% play games as a way to unwind & relax
42% believe game play is a way to keep their mind sharp
75% of responding parents see educational benefits for their kids
Less stress + more play (in the right proportion) increases longevity.
NEXT: Benefits of Play (Part 2)