Holland: It’s time for a play date

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Winter is coming and for many that means staying inside more. After the beautiful colors of fall and so many opportunities to be outside having fun, it can require a different mindset to keep your spirits up during more gray days that are just part of winter.

Since I did not win the lotto, it is safe to say like many others, I am not going to travel or live like a snowbird on a sunny beach with swaying palm trees and plenty of shells. I would settle for a measly million lotto win… just saying. Regardless, it is safe to say there is no playing on the beach in my near future.

So, what is my battleplan to survive and to have fun, in other words to “play” in the colder months? What does play really mean anyway, and what does it do for adults? We know that it is healthy and needed for children to learn and develop cognitively, physically and emotionally. But what about adults? Did something happen between childhood and adulting that was against play? Well besides the obvious of going to work. There is that. But how important is play for adults?

While some might be critical of what some call frivolous activities, it is evident that there are actual rewards that can come to you through play. Play is as simple as an activity that you enjoy and have fun doing. One that you do not have to do. It does not need a purpose other than being enjoyable and fun. It can be as simple as just getting together with friends and hanging out. Maybe you like to play board games, read a good book, work on a collection you have, craft, watch a favorite movie, or just get out and explore what is new in your community. Perhaps it is an activity that is shared with others or is just some very needed “me” time to just do what you want. Research has shown some common themes that play is important for adults too since it can:

• lift our mood and improve our outlook on life;

• lead to greater creativity and problem solving;

• improve relationships, decrease social isolation, and help with our sense of humor;

• relieve stress and increase our well-being;

• help with healing and a sense of hope; and

• help in feeling younger and more energetic.

Many companies have incorporated some elements of play in the workplace as they have come to recognize its value in strengthening teamwork, innovation, and in being able to see solutions in new ways of thinking.

Of course, life cannot be all play. But it has been said for eons that life should not be all work either. Maybe we just need to find a balance where play is more included. I can already think of many new or forgotten activities that will be fun. It does not have to be expensive either. There are probably things already available to you at home, in your community, or through swaps with friends such as games, puzzles, movies, or whatever — just get creative.

While I am not good at resolutions, I think a new approach in surviving the winter months is to simply include more fun. I am looking forward to exploring what is available close by and different activities that abound. My new modus operandi for winter is to have more fun! This just might work, at least it will be fun finding out.

Teresa Holland is a guest columnist, writer, and retired advanced-practice registered nurse. Send comments to [email protected]

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