The Importance of Play!

I’ve just been watching our pet squirrel having lunch 🙂

Well, he’s not our real pet of course, but we like to call him that because he visits the garden every day for either breakfast or lunch, and sometimes both!

Some say squirrels are pests, but to me he is such fun. I love watching him load his cheeks with the acorns that we put out for him and bury them around the garden. It’s so funny when he buries one deeply and then moves a leaf over the top to either mark the spot or hide it from other animals, I haven’t worked out which one it is yet! I’m sure he hasn’t yet rescued all of the acorns he buried last year so in a few hundred years time there will be a garden full of oak trees!

Creation is such fun and gives us a big clue about our Creator God: that he is fun and wants to bring us joy! Why else invent giraffes which such long necks, tree frogs that are so colourful, chameleons that change colour, peacocks and their wonderful feathers, monkeys that swing and laugh, and penguins that play? He is creative and fun and has put that inside of us too!

As adults, we can feel guilty when we do something with no apparent purpose, like playing and having fun. A lot ‘adulting’ involves paying bills, organising our homes and our lives, or looking after our work and other people. And if we switch off from all of those things for 10 minutes, half an hour, a day, or even a week, it can feel brilliant but oh-so-indulgent. Sometimes we even forget how to play or what it is that we enjoy doing. But when you start again you can feel alive and it can have such a positive impact on other areas of your life.

If you feel overwhelmed and stressed there is even more reason to carve our some time to play. Here are 7 reasons why it will definitely help, and 7 ways of including play in your life.

Play helps to:

  • Relieve Stress – because it can trigger the release of endorphins which are natural feel-good chemicals.
  • Relieve Pain – the release of endorphins as well as making you feel good can also relieve pain
  • Improve Brain Function – in play you come across natural challenges which can help to prevent memory problems and improve brain function.
  • Boost Creativity – you will learn a new task better when it’s fun and it will stimulate your imagination at the same time
  • Improve your connection with others – sharing fun and laughter can build your trust and empathy with others
  • Keep you feeling young and energetic – in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” 
  • Boost your resistance to disease – it improves your energy and vitality helping you to function at your best

7 Ways to include play in your life:

  • Have a play date with a friend rather than a coffee. Go for a walk and pick leaves, go to a museum together.
  • Set yourself a target of doing something playful each day even if just for 1 minute
  • Have a play drawer or box where there are a few fun thing to do that you can pick from such as colouring or a puzzle
  • Invest in jigsaw storage so you don’t have to do a jigsaw in one go but can do it over time
  • Learn a new skill 
  • Befriend a fun person
  • Hang out with a kid and just play

Because play is so beneficial for our health, at Fitfish we have created an online session called Ignite, designed to spark joy and creativity. Our first session is a drawing workshop with illustrator Sian Bowman and it’s happening on Wednesday 16th November. It would be great to have you join us to switch off for a little bit, get creative and reap some of the benefits of play! You can find out more here!


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