“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” ~ Lucia Capocchione.
The road to wellness is full of choices. Balanced nutrition, care providers who listen and understand you, time for rest and relaxation - these are vital components of a comprehensive wellness plan. We believe play is also an essential component of the wellness equation.
Play can improve lung and heart function, boost good hormones and endorphins, and decrease stress in our minds and bodies. Researchers have proven play increases creativity and productivity at work and at home. Dr. Stuart Brown, play researcher and psychologist at Stanford University says, “the opposite of play is not work, it's depression.”
Unfortunately, play often gets lost along the way as we become adults. Instead, we prioritize output, metrics, and work over time for restoration and enjoyment. Young children that were denied opportunities to play tend to have more difficulty managing stress and socializing as an adult. Early development play is a building block to wholesome relationships and learning how to solve problems and conflicts creatively later on in life.
Are you struggling with intrinsic motivation? Do you struggle to find your place in social networks? Give yourself permission to relearn candor play. Candor play is an open and honest expression of you. Self-actualization through authentic play should not be bypassed; in fact, play is essential to a thriving, productive, and meaningful life.
Incorporating play into our already busy lives can feel like one more thing to add to our to-do lists. However, when we focus on enjoyment, we can reconnect to a sense of flow and relaxation that can lead to healing and restoration.
Clinical psychologist and chief of the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, NY, Dr. Rudy Nydegger, says there are two basic tenets of play. “First, it is something that we do for recreation that is purely for enjoyment and/or entertainment — it is something we do just for fun.” "Second, it is something that is intrinsically motivating. In other words it is something that we want to do and is not something we need to be coerced or 'bribed' into doing. It is voluntary; we do it just because we want to.”
When was the last time you did something just for fun?
If you aren’t sure where to start, think back to your childhood.
Dr. Stuart Brown studies the benefits of play in both children and adults. He says, “What I would encourage on an individual level to do, is to explore backwards as far as you can go to the most clear, joyful, playful image that you have, whether it's with a toy, on a birthday or on a vacation. And begin to build from the emotion of that into how that connects with your life now.”
What did you love doing as a child? These answers can be a great place to start building your play muscles. What activities, tokens, or images can you add to your weekly routine? Who can you ask to join you in your play? Early play memories are still with us when we become adults, connect them to the adult life you are living now to re-ignite wonder, joy, and creativity. This is a great journal exercise to focus on if you are someone who likes to journal.
Play can be as simple as watching the birds in your front yard, throwing the frisbee in the park, coloring or painting, and riding your bike. You may be pleasantly surprised at how play positively impacts your work, relationships, and improves your life as a whole.
We understand the complexities of depression, and want to partner to help those who are struggling. The team at Aspen Ketamine Center can guide you through the process of starting ketamine and incorporating play in the form of meditation, yoga, exercise, and community building on your road towards wellness.
How do you make play a part of your daily routine? Let us know in the comments!