The Power Of Play
In my work with children I am often reminded that Maria Montessori advocated for children getting what they need. “Play is the work of a child,” she argued. When working with children, both at school and in the office, the play that we do together can often be exhausting, and for good reason. They are doing the work of their childhood. Taking time out of their day to make meaning out of the world and events around them using their tools—imagination, investigation and toys. Doing so is healthy work and a part of the larger set of building blocks of healthy development across the lifespan. In light of this information, it could make you wonder about yourself. What about grown ups? What work should we be doing to continue healthy development across the lifespan? It’s clear that when it comes to traditional terminology, we don’t have any problem “working” at all. According to the US Travel Association, 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018. Work is not our problem. Our overall health and life balance, however, is an issue.
So, what can we do about it?
Let’s take January, considered by many as the longest month of the year, and make good use of it. I’m not here to talk to you about lofty goals, workouts, or nutrition—I don’t do those perfectly and I know being surrounded with 100 ways to make your year better can be daunting. Rather, let's add some levity and simple enjoyment to our lives—no purchase necessary. Doing so is critical across our lifespan for overall wellness. However, before we move on, let’s add a simple disclaimer: Working on your health and seeking out balance is not an excuse to shirk the responsibilities of adulthood. Being well rounded and seeking wellness means to find balance in responsibility, the command to take sabbath, and to seek to enjoy our lives as Ecclesiastes 8:15 reminds us.
For adults, doing things for enjoyment’s sake invokes a variety of health benefits, including boosting creativity, relationship growth, and stress relief, to name a few. Some, however, may feel that the idea of enjoyment without an endgame is trite or juvenile—maybe even lazy, and as adults, they just can’t swing them. This doesn’t mean you don’t need it, just that you need to re-engage in a way that best fits your needs. Yes, needs. We need and were created for these types of enjoyment.
According to Dr. Stuart Brown, MD, founder of the National Institute for Play (yes, it’s real), there are several types of activities that can reawaken a person’s innate need for play if integrated into an adult’s life. Also, the types of play identified below build into adult life easily if we are intentional about it.
Rough-and-Tumble play: high-intensity physical play – as high-intensity sports and competitions
Ritual play: plays with set rules and puzzles – board games, sports
Imaginative play: playing and exercising the imagination – arts & crafts, storytelling, acting, improv classes
Body play: spontaneous plays to get adults “out of gravity” – yoga, Pilates, hiking, snorkeling
Object play: involves the manipulation of objects – building blocks and bricks, fortress play, etc.
Medical research shows the powerful impact of adding enjoyment and wellness-seeking activities to one’s life. They provide stress relief, engage different parts of the brain, add to the lifespan, and build additional capacity for growth. In a 2019 journal article published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Van Vleet and Helgerson present research that adds to the growing body of evidence that adults engaging in play will benefit in a multitude of ways. Particularly this study noted that adults with type 1 Diabetes who engaged in play were more likely to have “better mood, greater diabetes disclosure to one’s partner, greater support received from one’s partner, and greater perceived coping effectiveness with the day’s most important diabetes and general stressors.” (Van Vleet et al., 2019)
Mental health wise, we see that making time for this evokes a more optimistic outlook, helps to combat depression, enhances brain flexibility, and keeps social and emotional skills sharp (National Institute for Play, 2022). It is important to recognize that this kind of activity for adults is not as easy to identify as that of children’s play—getting to that state can be more difficult for us as we have a myriad of responsibilities and distractions running in the background of our brains. Start small, challenge yourself by requiring yourself to do something that provides enjoyment and lifts your mood for 10 minutes a day. Work your way up to 30 minutes to an hour, and give yourself grace on the way.
If this still feels daunting, one way to learn is through observation. If you know a child, observe them. If they invite you into their play, just try it out. I promise they are forgiving (and directive too, if you don’t do it the right way, they will let you know). Together, let’s take advantage of a season that is typically drab and dull and add some joy. Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, reminds us, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play at any age and stage is a gift, let's continue to remind ourselves of that this January.
Play for adults. National Institute for Play. (2022, April 11). Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.nifplay.org/play-for-you/make-play-part-of-an-adult-life/
Pausch R. (2008). Last lecture: Achieving your childhood dreams. YouTube, 2008b. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?%20v=cyuZWDX55mI
Thomas, D. (2019, February 7). The Christian Century. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.christiancentury.org/article/faith-matters/playful-romp-god
Study: A record 768 million U.S. vacation days went unused in '18, opportunity cost in the billions. U.S. Travel Association. (2019, August 16). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.ustravel.org/press/study-record-768-million-us-vacation-days-went-unused-18-opportunity-cost-billions
Van Vleet, M., Helgeson, V. S., & Berg, C. A. (2019). The importance of having fun: Daily play among adults with type 1 diabetes. Journal of social and personal relationships, 36(11-12), 3695–3710. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407519832115
Mark your calendars for our 7th Annual Golf Classic on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at Adams Pointe Golf Club in Blue Springs. More details and registration link will be available soon.
The new year brings so much excitement and a fresh perspective to life. We look forward to the lives we have the opportunity to impact in 2023. We are grateful to you for joining with us to bring change to our community. Each gift commitment provides stability not only to our organization, but to our clients as well. Thank you for working alongside us to provide high-quality, affordable counseling services for individuals, children, and families. We couldn’t do it without you and the life change you help provide through your giving is making a generational impact!
Thank you, Mariner Foundation, for your generosity. We appreciate your continued $5,000 grant given this year. You are helping make a difference.
We express our sincere thanks to High Street Baptist Church for the opportunity to invest in your institute students. We are grateful for your love offering. It is an honor to partner with you to impact generations.
We are so grateful for the trust and support of Jeremiah 924 Foundation. Your generosity has effected countless lives and your faithful support means so much to us.
Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County – once again, we say THANKS for your grant donation. Thank you for joining with us to invest in the lives of Jackson County students.
Thank you to Zarda Foods, EPR Properties, Daniel & Irene Arnautov, Ryan & Keri Horn, iPlumbKC, Michael & Julie Hirons and Greg & Charlotte Shireman for your generous year-end gift. Your support provides stability to our mission and hope to our clients.
John & Kimberly Shrader, Chris & Kim Thiele, Church of the Four Corners, Dan Ripley State Farm Insurance Companies, Especially Jewelry, Roger & Pam Lantz, Erin Dunn, Mike & Amber Balbier, and Kyle & Tiffney Hoffman, a huge thank you to each of you for joining us to reach the families in our community. Your year-end gift allows us to finish the year strong. We appreciate you!
To all of our faithful monthly and recurring supporters — THANK YOU from our Peace Partnership team! – Stone AMP SEO, Jeff & Lacey Cherry, Zane & Melissa Morerod, Jondy & Heather Britton, Mark McDonald, Lone Jack Baptist Church, Matt & Kristy Newton, Clayton & Pam Wooldridge, Mark & Cathy McGaughey, Greg & Jennifer Spears, Roger & Jennifer Madsen, Brent & Amanda Miller, Mike & Jan McGraw, Willie & Adia Valdes, Linda Hartman, Dave & Rosie Bourland, Rudy & Stacy Blahnik, Mike & Tracy Pruitt, Sandra King, Diane Smith, Stan & Linda Byrd, Dan & Gigi Rippee, Andre & Rose Fantasma, Kevin Quinn, Scott & Lydia Hurley, Jon & Naomi Thompson, John & Keshia Otradovec, Tamara Stroud, Rick & Kathy Daulton, Church at Coffee Creek, John & Vicki Hefner, Cory & Leslie Young, Jenny Glasgow, Teddy Koehler, Brandon & Vanessa Blanchard, and Rick & Jan Britton.
We appreciate each and every one of you!
Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets in our 3rd Annual Peace Partnership Christmas Lottery. We sold 211 tickets which allowed us to raise over $11,000. Congratulations to our winners! What a fun way to raise funds to provide affordable counseling to those unable to afford it. THANK YOU!
Thank you to Casey McBride, Lee & Debbie Miller, Keith Dorrian, Cam South, ReNu Brain Treatment Center, David Peebles, Community Choice Pediatrics, Kay Carlile, Jacob Sanders, Tre Robinson, Jon Brody, Lori Chally, Hilary Tichota, Kenneth & Joyce Chambless, Rex Worboys, Candace Roberts, Tim Blanchard, David Glasgow, Teddy Koehler, Michelle Sloan, Allen Steenbock, David West, Nazira Creager, Brad Stebenow, Tarae Thibeaux, Nancy Wade, Devyn Horsley, Amber Martin, Beckie Fite, Mark Hillenburg, Orion Management Solutions, Khalilah Holland, Matt Terwilliger, Cindy Hillenburg, Butch & Karen Bellis, Aaron Parra, Jenny Glasgow, Angeline Berry, Candice Berry, and David & Holly Fox for your December raffle ticket purchases.
Would you like to hear more about how you can help us grow? Our Director of Development, Naomi Thompson, makes herself available for coffee/breakfast and lunch meetings to learn more about the work we do at Peace Partnership. You can reach her at: 816.272.0653 or email@example.com to find out how you can join our team of Partners. To make a donation through our website, please click on the link below.
Have you or someone you know been helped by Peace Partnership or Genesis Counseling? If so, would you please consider paying it forward to help another find healing along their journey? We are asking anyone who is not currently partnering with us financially to consider donating $100/year for the next 3 years to help make a difference in someone else’s life. Collectively, we can help SO MANY PEOPLE! Please consider a gift today. Call the office for help getting your gift set up or choose a recurring donation on our website here. We are so grateful for your help changing lives!