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The Mental Health Benefits of Play for Adults

The intentional inclusion of play in our lives as adults can often be neglected. Or rather, it can be one of the things we ‘know’ is important and still is hard to make time for. We get caught up in the responsibilities of work, family, and other obligations, setting aside little time for play. However, taking the time to engage in play can have significant mental health benefits for people of all ages, including adults! Here we will explore the ways in which play can benefit mental health, and how to incorporate more play into your daily life.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

One of the most significant benefits of play is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety [1]. Research has shown that engaging in play can help reduce cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. Play also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosting chemicals [2]. This can lead to decreased feelings of anxiety and increased feelings of calm, joy, pride, and excitement.

There are many different ways to include play in your daily life intentionally. You could join a sports team, take up a new hobby such as painting or photography, or include game nights with friends and family in your social calendar. Making play a regular part of your routine supports a more consistent reduction of stress and anxiety, rather than an afternoon of temporary relief.

Increased Creativity and Imagination

Another benefit of play is its ability to boost creativity and imagination. When we engage in play, we are often using our imaginations and coming up with new and creative ideas. If you have any children in your life, this is a wonderful chance to learn from them - to admire the way they turn their environment into whatever they need during their play.