Posted by: Suzan | October 10, 2017

Play More and Age Less



Play comes easily for children. They love to dress up, get messy, try anything new, and invent new worlds. Children laugh naturally. A study showed children laugh about 300 times per day as compared to an adult who averages about 17 laughs a day! Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us forget how to play. Instead we may choose to zone out in front of the television or computer with our free moments.

“If only we could think like a child again, there’s a good chance we would find the freedom we gave up to become adults.” Iyanla Vanzant, a collaborator with Harvard Health, suggests that play for adults can help:

  • Relieve stress because when you play endorphins, the natural feel good chemicals, are released in your body. It can also ward off depression with the increased social interactions.
  • Improve brain function because it challenges your brain and helps with your memory. (e.g. playing a card game, Chess, or Scrabble)
  • Enhance relationships because when you laugh and play with others, you foster more trust, empathy, compassion, and intimacy.
  • Keep you young and feeling more alive. It can enhance your immune system and help keep you healthy as it boosts your energy and vitality.
  • Stimulate your mind because it’s easier to learn when you’re more relaxed and enjoying yourself. Your imagination reawakens and this can help you to better problem solve.

So how do you play more? It’s possible at any age. My “adopted Mom,” Sophia, mentored me on play and she was in her mid-70s with Emphysema. She had COPD, a breathing situation where she sometimes struggled for breath and had to be on oxygen 24-7. She still lived her life full out. Sophia took improv classes, worked out at the gym, had frequent happy hour gab sessions with girlfriends at her home, and even had a boyfriend several years younger. She told me never to call on Thursday nights because they would be “busy.” One time they took off for a few months to adventure around the U.S. and explore national parks. Yet the most endearing memory I have is how they dressed as clowns and created a comic routine which they took to nursing homes to bring smiles to others. All of this with her oxygen tank at her side. She taught me that we’re never too old to play. In fact, if we play we’re less likely to grow “old.”

George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Here are 10 ideas on how to play more:

  • Explore how you would like to play. Take out your journal, or any notebook, and write about, What brought you joy in your past? What have you always wanted to try? What makes you laugh? What could make your life more fun?
  • Plan a game night with friends. Have everyone bring over a game and make it a potluck.
  • Create a movie night with friends. Watch something on Netflix (or your favorite at home movie provider) and then discuss it. Make it a potluck to keep it simple.
  • Organize a group to listen to music and/or go dancing. If you don’t have a group in mind, take a dance lesson.
  • Sing Karaoke with a group or alone with a You Tube video.
  • is a great place to connect with about any kind of group out there (e.g. hiking, cooking, gardening – you name it)
  • If you love animals, consider volunteering at a shelter where you can give them some attention or even adopt a playful pet.
  • If you love children, volunteer at a school or a church. I volunteer with Pre-K kids and they are the best teachers on play. They remind me how fun it is to play with abandon.
  • Join a sports team or create your own. It can be as simple as throwing a Frisbee at the park or at the beach.
  • Go to an arts and craft store and buy some fun stuff to play with alone or with others. It will bring out the playful creator in you. Remember it’s not about the final product. It’s more about the process of having FUN.

I help women over 50 to learn how to play again! Please let me know if I can help you. You can contact me here!



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