THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN DIFFICULT TIMES
by Rachel Madorsky, LCSW
The more we laugh, the more resilient we become. The more we think about our problems, the bigger our problems become.
Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
But honestly, how many of us do try to solve our problems by thinking about them (over and over)? There are a lot of scary things happening in the world. It’s easy to be serious.
How can we take time to play when there are so many things to worry about? So many unknowns occurring in our lives?
The answer is this. Every time we press the pause button on our stress, we teach ourselves that we have power, choice and freedom.
When we feel light-hearted and connected we are in a much better position to help ourselves and others. These are the qualities we receive when we’re at play.
Playing reminds us of our aliveness and our innocence. Playing improves our intelligence by exercising a part of the brain that allows new information to come in.
When we play, our minds become less rigid, increasing our chances of looking at the world (and our struggles) from different perspectives, including a more optimistic point of view.
When we allow ourselves to laugh with others, try something new, let go of the need to look good or impress anyone, our confidence rises and we take our power back.
Being playful is one of the purest forms of relating. It’s the kind of coping strategy that doesn’t leave you feeling regretful the next morning and instead allows you to feel more relaxed, more real, and more open to receive the goodness of life.
A few years ago I had the grace of being by my grandmother’s side while she died. I was holding her hand as my mother was holding her other hand. It was one of the most beautiful and heart breaking times in my life. At the funeral, the rabbi asked the immediate family to please rise. As we did I whispered into my mother’s ear “he said rise”. My mother is 4’6 and my joke made her laugh.
The darker and more stressful the time, the greater the need to release the tension, to to let go and be light. We need each other. With playfulness there is an opening of the heart and mind, reminding us that we are in this life together and no matter what happens there is still magic and delight to be found.
We have phrased it wrong. It is not social distancing. It’s physical distancing with social connection. Don’t let these difficult times stop you from enjoying your life and practicing the art of play.
For those of us that like lists, here is a rundown of the important benefits of play, especially during difficult times.
Sing a song, dance your heart out in the living room, look at things with new eyes, and connect with people who bring out the best in you. One of the most powerful ways to learn or re-learn how to play is through the art of improvisation. I know a place (online) where you can laugh hard and get some of the best play time there is.
Jump in and say Yes to yourself.
Rachel is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Relationship and Business Coach.
She is one of the co-owners and founding faculty members, teaching and performing at ColdTowne Theater since the doors opened to Austin in 2006.