Have you forgotten how to play? When we suffer from mental illness, play often goes out the window, but we need to play to gain good mental health; it is vital for refuelling our brain with positive thoughts and increasing our self-esteem.
I must admit when I have been in the depths of depression, the last thing I want to do is play, and the closest I get is throwing the ball for my dog, but sometimes that is enough, if you have a pet, you know how our furry companions can force us into play mode even when we don’t want to.
I’m actually writing this article because of my dog, called George. He is maybe getting on in years, but he has never forgotten his love of playing with his array of toys. We should all be more like him, never losing the art of playing to give us good mental health.
What is the Art of Playing?
But what is the art of playing when you feel so rough you can’t even get out of bed some mornings, well there are still things you can do to improve your mood through play, and good mental health starts with the small things.
Most of us have smartphones these days, so the perfect choice for those with limited energy is to download some of the free games and begin in this way, they will not only allow you to play, but they will also release feel-good chemicals in your brain when you reach an achievement.
I have a set of games on my phone, some of them are kids games, but sometimes that is all my brain can muster if I am in a depressive state. So I recommend having a look through the kid’s selection and picking something from there. Then the games go up in levels from kids to adult mystery games. This is all part of the art of play, don’t think of it as wasting time; you are not. You are instilling the basis of good mental health.
Good Mental Health Begins With Play
We all learned to play; all mammals do, even some birds like magpies play. We learn through play, and this in itself creates our skills for later life. As adults, we shouldn’t forget that play is still a vital need; we need to let off steam through physical activity or mental pressures through board games and the like. We may not be learning life skills anymore, but playing takes on a new role which is to balance our mental health for the better.
Good mental health starts with looking after ourselves and taking the time to play either through sporting activities, especially group sports like football; we build up our confidence and self-esteem.
When we stop playing, our lives become dull, yes we are adults, and we do need to be serious sometimes, but if you are serious all the time, then stress builds up and will cause an undue strain on your mental health. This is why playing, even if it is building a den in the living room with the kids or going to the woods and playing tag, can lift our spirits and create positive vibes, which leads to good mental health.
Our body and mind need to be free, and the act of playing allows this freedom.
When Was The Last Time You Played?
Was it with the kids? With your partner? With your pet? How did you feel afterwards?
Playing releases endorphins into our brain, which makes us feel good; even if we are exhausted afterwards, we still feel good because we had fun. Good mental health requires you to step out of your comfort zone and play more often. If you need an excuse, then it is for your mental benefit to do it, which will make for better relationships with friends and family members.
If you are stuck for ideas on how to play because it has been so long, have a look at the list below:
- Goalposts for jumpers, grab the kids and a few friends and play football.
- Download lots of games onto your phone for playful moments by yourself.
- Play with your pet, teach them new tricks.
- If you are creative, build a go-kart, take it for a runout, or write a short story, you could also create jewellery or take up pottery.
- Think of the games you played as a kid, tag, rounders or baseball, searching along the coast for seaside finds.
- Learn a new sport, go on a charity walk or run, do good in your playtime.
- Make paper aeroplanes and have a distance challenge.
- Board games, such as Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.
- Fill up the water pistols and get soaked with the kids; they love making a parent soggy.
There are many things you can do to make sure you are taking care of yourself through the art of play. Good mental health is all about play; we can’t be depressed or stressed in the moment of play as our thoughts are in the game. And you gain respite from mental illness from introducing game time.
I hope you can see why I think the play is crucial to creating a better mental balance in yourself, and the more time we spend laughing and playing, the sunnier our outlook will be. If you have any suggestions for play, I’d love to read them in the comments below.
Peace & Blessings