The Power of Play and Unstructured Time

Play is an important part of every being’s development. Play is A physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective. Play can assist in self-awareness and self-development. You are never too old to play. Also, providing yourself the permission and kindness to have unstructured time is key to well-being. We’ll explore the benefits of experiencing awe, moving our bodies, curiosity, and aimless wandering.

Some psychologists consider this mixture of mental and bodily experience to be an emotion called awe and when we experience awe it is restorative to our mind, body and spirit. An 8 year Japanese study says spending time among the trees, out in nature, can improve immune function, lower stress, and reduces depression and hostility. When you connect with something much greater you’ll experience awe. Have you ever stood among the redwoods, stared out over the grand canyon, hiked above the clouds in Glacier National Park? Have you ever held a newborn baby? Have you ever looked closely at a snowflake?

Welcome Stress…Calm the Body, Calm the mind. The body gets used to doing things the same way. This results in no gains. People need to push a little bit to get results. Muscles require a bit of stress to continue to grow and strengthen. Physical activity can calm the mind, energize the body, help you think clearly, help you relax. It depends on what you do and when you do it. Some key tips in helping making movement a habit is to find a buddy. Especially someone you don’t want to let down. This will motivate you to get up and go; even when you don’t want to. Research shows that playing music while exercising improves your mood and it distracts you from fatigue. Plan ahead. Put it on your calendar, work around the week ahead, be flexible…stuff happens. Get outside when you can. Th fresh air, natural light and if possible nature will do your mind, body and spirit good. Keep it bright. Studies show that bright lights lift the mood; especially during the dark winter months when we all lack exposure to daylight. And find a class. Being social and connecting to others has added benefits for being positive, staying engaged, and being mindful.

Ask yourself what really matters in my life? What do I believe in? What brings me the most joy? What lights me up? Be CURIOUS Curiosity has several benefits: helps us survive, develops empathy, Improves academic achievement, keeps the mind healthy, encourages exploration and new ideas. Helps us continue to grow and evolve. Don’t be afraid to wonder and ask why? (Be respectful and avoid prying personal questions.)

Allow yourself to be a bit spacious. Loosen your focus on yourself and notice what is around you. Enjoy and appreciate being there. Set aside some time with no destination; it’s not about getting somewhere; it’s about creating space and time. Stop occasionally to notice your senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste. For example my daughter and I went for a hike and we named it the  Heart Trail, because everywhere we looked we saw heart shapes in the leaves, the moss, the rocks, etc.   Think about when you go for  Ocean Beach Walks, or when our forefathers would often go for aimless walks to clear their mind, inspire creativity, problem solve, relax and connect to nature.

This critical to your well-being.

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