The word play is defined as “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”. As kids, taking part in such activities had a big role in our day to day and having fun was on top of our priority list. As we get older, the act of playing becomes less and less frequent so we can focus on more “important” things. However, various studies show that having recreational hobbies as an adult has more benefits than one may think, and SHOULD be considered a priority!

Here are 3 backed-by-science reasons to make room for fun in your life and escape the pressure of adulthood, even if just for a little while!

 

1 - Reconnecting with your inner child keeps you moving

Children find it natural to move their bodies whenever they feel like it, especially when going through strong emotions such as excitement, anxiousness or anger. This is a great cue to take from them, as movement is one of the most efficient tools to reduce stress, which in return can contribute to a happier mood, strengthened immune functions and balanced hormones.

Although any type of movement will have a positive effect on your health, finding an activity you look forward to and enjoy doing is essential to making sure you stick to it. Whether it’s a friendly match of badminton, hitting the gym for a few hours or simply going for a walk, if you have fun doing it, you’ll be more likely to practice it regularly and reap all the benefits that activity can offer.

 

2 - Having fun while learning helps improve brain health

Embracing a child-like curiosity and getting excited about learning increases the activity of neural pathways that use feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters such as Oxytocin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine. These natural mood-boosters are responsible for a cluster of reactions that help promote pleasurable feelings like motivation, satisfaction and happiness.

When positivity is associated with learning, you develop a higher interest for the new material, which in return allows for a deeper understanding of it. Finding joy in learning also helps strengthen visualization, memory, and critical thinking, skills which can awaken new potentials within you and offer a strong sense of empowerment.

 

3 - Laughter is the best medicine

Bill Watterson famously said "We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” One simple and free way to focus on the present is to laugh (even if forcefully)! Having a good laugh frees you from the noise of your mind and instantly brings you in the moment, which puts your body in a state similar to meditation.

Other therapeutic benefits include short-term ones such as stimulating the organs, increasing the release of Endorphins, promoting relaxation and soothing physical tension in the muscles. Over the long run, your mind and body can even gain from a stronger immune system, diminished pain and depression as well as an improved self-esteem. Who knew laughter could be so healing!

Since what’s considered to be fun is so subjective, finding ways to make your heart feel young again will look different to each individual. It’s important you connect with yourself and go for things that feel right to YOU. This can look like going on a hike, learning a new language, or having a water-balloon fight. Whatever you choose, you can do it guilt-free, knowing you’re also being productive through this well-deserved, approved by scientists playtime. ;)

 

 

Sources:

Feeling young at heart may help you live longer:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-young-heart-may-help-live-longer-201412177598

https://40plusstyle.com/10-things-to-do-to-feel-young-at-heart/

Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

Why You Need More Fun in Your Life, According to Science
https://michaelrucker.com/having-fun/why-you-need-more-fun-in-your-life/#:~:text=Research%20shows%20that%20when%20we,to%20connect%20and%20be%20creative

Why Fun, Curiosity & Engagement Improves Learning: Mood, Senses, Neurons, Arousal, Cognition:
https://cognitiontoday.com/why-fun-improves-learning-mood-senses-neurons-arousal-cognition/#:~:text=Having%20fun%20and%20being%20excited,which%20improve%20learning%20and%20memory