The Magic of Playfulness & Imagination
Being playful doesn't have to be doing a specific activity, it can be a state of mind as well. Developing a playful nature can be significantly helpful in the inevitable stresses of everyday life. It is a child-like, free, fun, attitude that can be learned by anyone, and leads to better overall well-being and mood. With children there is no ambiguity, they already know, instinctively, what play is. Many adults tend to lose their sense of play as they get older. However, it is never too late to expand that natural playful attitude and explore that amazing imagination of yours. If you think about even just day dreaming, you are creating mental visual constructs within your mind's eye that you can manipulate and play with, which can be fun! Remember as a child, you could so easily and naturally get absorbed in a make-believe world? Playing cops and robbers, playing house or a superhero...we could travel to exiting places, become whoever we wanted, and it really felt as if it were real! Right?! We could transport ourselves, using our imagination, to an unknown fantasy world, which would bring hours of fun and enjoyment. You could pick up a stick, and in your mind imagine it was a sword, deep down you know it is a stick, but you were playful, imaginative, and so absorbed, that it became a sword. Where has that creative imagination gone? Maybe you don't have HOURS to spend becoming absorbed in your playfulness or fantasy world, but perhaps, 5 minutes a day would suffice. If you can play make-believe or just be playful and light for a few minutes, you can generate positive feelings. and with practice, you can create a happier default state. When we vividly imagine something, your brain will believe it is actually happening, as if you are truly there. Try a mini escape to a sacred safe and comfortable place in your mind, a place in nature where you feel safe, calm and protected. (Either real or imaginary). See what you see, smell what you smell, hear what you hear, taste what you taste, feel what you feel, stimulating all your senses. In this, you are sending signals to the body and mind that you are safe right now in your safe scene. Even though it is make-believe it is REAL to the body. There are a lot of physiological and biochemical changes going on as you do this. It can tremendously combat the stress hormones in your body, as well as stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. Ultimately, you can use play, and imagination to get out of the "fight or flight" response so you can live a happier and healthier life, at any age!
Dedicate time each day for prescribed play, such as: read a fictional story, engage in a game with your kids, play a card game, make silly faces, have a costume party, play paint ball, colour or make some art, create a make-believe place in your mind you'd like to visit, and just be there for a moment, whatever playfulness means to you, escape into your play sanctuary. Activate your imagination to add some joy and vitality to your life. Find your own ways to maximize your feelings of fun, pleasure, and more levity as you bring more playfulness into your life.