Adding play to your everyday

Being playful in our everyday lives gives us the power to tap into our overall wellness and vitality.

With psychology expert, Dr Alice Boyes, author of The Anxiety Toolkit

The ways you choose to play as an adult should feel like an expression of your natural identity. Cultivate an identity as a playful person by paying attention to instances of when you’re playful. Notice when it’s easiest for you to be playful: with children, pets, your romantic partner, your family of origin, your workmates, or large groups of friends.

· Find the adult versions of your childhood interests. If you’re out of the habit of play and stuck for ideas, ask yourself “What did I love to do as a 10 year old?” This question comes from happiness writer Gretchen Rubin.

· What types of play aren’t fun for you? Sometimes it’s easiest to identify the types of play you enjoy if you start by listing what you don’t enjoy. For example, you might dislike board games, dress ups, and any forms of play that involve alcohol or a competitive element. Once you have a list of what you don’t like, make one with what you do like.

· Your sense of humour and play go hand in hand. Incorporating more humour and laughter into your day-to-day life will dovetail with becoming more playful.

· If fitting in time for play seems too daunting aim for incorporating more playfulness instead. Maybe you buy those zany glass frames you’ve been coveting, wear brighter colours and try surrounding yourself with physical representations of playfulness.

· It’s okay to like nerdy forms of play. For example, my mum recently started sending me daily maths problems during “maths week” at the school where she works. It was some of the most enjoyable mother-daughter fun we’ve had in ages. If you like nerdy or competitive forms of play, take care not to over-identify as only liking those types of play. Try to discover and experience all aspects of your playful self.

· If you place a high value on work and productivity, you may be more motivated to incorporate play into your life because it’s part of optimising your creative output. You don’t have to value play for play’s sake if that’s not your nature. You can choose to value it because it makes you more productive. Play allows your brain to process other information in the background, come back to problems/work with a new perspective, and boost your positive emotions, which will tend to make your thinking more expansive.

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