The Blog | We Must Play February 09 2018

If I were to ask you, what’s your favourite ways to play what is the first thing that springs to mind? Recently, I was listening to The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. Which, by the way, is incredible. And she posed this question. Instantly I went wait… What!? Play!? Is cleaning your house play? Doing laundry play? Who has time for play!? Do I even like to play? And if so what is my play? This one questions had me reeling for days. This idea of the importance of play is her 7th guidepost - Cultivating Rest and Play: Letting go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth in how to live a wholehearted life that Brené Brown discusses. In this guidepost she lays out what exactly she means by play. Taking pages from the leading play researcher Stuart Brown. She describes play as:

  • Time spent without a purpose
  • You do not want it to end
  • You lose time when doing it
  • You lose yourself/don’t care how you look while doing it

    Research completed by Dr Stuart Brown and the National Institute for Play has shown that play is a basic natural necessity, like sleep. And like sleep, most of us are not getting enough of it. Without enough play we are more susceptible to depression, sickness and stress related diseases. Plus it’s just not fun. There is a strong connection between play and emotional and cognitive development. Practicing play, no matter if its physical, creative or even just having a giggle with your kid improves your physical and emotional wellbeing.

    I spend time daily watching my toddler play, completely engrossed in what he is doing, not having a care in the world for what is happening around him, if I am watching, what he has to do next or should be doing and I wonder where and when did we lose that?
    According to Brené Brown, the main barrier to adults being able to rest and play is that exhaustion has become a status symbol and productivity has become a symbol of self-worth. This belief leads us to even viewing sleep as a waste of time and leaves us sleep deprived and prone to disease and depression.

    So, loaded with this information I spent some mindful time thinking about my favourite forms of play. I realised that though sitting on the playroom floor playing cars with my toddler is not play for me. Running in and out of the sea as the waves crash on the shore with him is. And though I love him deeply, REALLY some of my favourite forms of play are listening to a podcast, trying a new restaurant with my husband or going to the movies with a good friend. I also asked my husband to write down his favourite ways to play which is revolutionising our weekends. Not everything over lapped for us but the ones that did are now our centerpiece for how we want to spend out free time. It's so much more fun! 

    So have you lost your play? Or not convinced yet. Here's a great Ted Talk by Stuart Brown discussing the importance of play and some of the research behind it. 


    Bex Murphy - Doer of all things at Mala Earth, community connector, social media superstar & most importantly mumma of two