July 4th, 2016

For Quick Stress Relief, Take a Dose of Pure Play!

After 25 years as a playologist (a teacher and student of play), I still stand in absolute awe at the power of pure play!  

What do I mean by pure play? It's the kind of thing we do simply because we like it.  Someone asks us “Why do you paint?” and we say “I donīt know, I just love it”.   Pure play is anything that makes your heart sing - anything you love to do “just because”.  For example, I LOVE to go to the ocean when the tide is low, take off my shoes and socks, walk in the wet sand, and splash around in the puddles of warm water that are left to enjoy at low tide.  I mean I love it.  I do it because it makes me very happy.  No other reason.

Yet, for so many of us, pure play feels like a distant memory. Our lives are so full of the day-to-day tasks of living.  And when we do take time out for play or recreation, there are often ulterior motives. For example, we go to the gym to lose weight, we go dancing so that we can meet other single people, or we do crossword puzzles in order to keep our minds sharp because we've read somewhere that it helps.

Of course, these are all great activities with valuable benefits.  But if weīre not having any FUN, then, ironically, even our play activities can begin to feel like work; they can feel like another task to add to the long list of daily to dos.  Do you know what Iīm saying?  

Dogs are masters of pure play.  Watch a dog playing and you wonīt see them hesitating and thinking “now, should I run to that tree, or maybe that bench over there would be better”.  They donīt analyze much.  They just follow their instincts and go for it.  We could learn a lot from dogs!

Unlike dogs, however, most of us spend a LOT of time in our heads - solving problems, planning, thinking, worrying, and more thinking (did I mention thinking yet?).  Our hearts LONG for something that feels easy, joyful and refreshing!  Pure play gives our over-worked brains a BREAK, and letīs simple joy take over.

In fact, one good dose of something we love to do busts stress like nothing else.  A deep sense of relaxation and renewed energy gushes up spontaneously from somewhere deep inside and restores us, easily and naturally.  Itīs pretty amazing!

And, like so many extra good things, itīs backed by a LOT of science.  There are literally hundreds of studies highlighting the critical role of play to our wellbeing.  And not just for children, but for everyone.   George Bernard Shaw said “We donīt stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  Turns out he was right.

What would a dose of pure play look like for you?  If youīre not sure, try asking yourself “what did I do for fun as a child?”  Did you like to ride go-carts, build things, finger paint, sing, dress up, ride a horse, dance, play charades or act, or lose yourself in an awesome book full of adventure?  Usually the things we loved to do as children are things we love to do throughout our lives (or at least give us good hints at what we would love now).  What would really make your heart sing?

Do it.  Take a dose of pure play very soon.   Do it as though the quality of your life depends on it.  Because in so many ways, it does!

Hereīs to you and living well!    ... Lee

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Power of Wellness

Lee Chamberland

Stress Relief & Happiness Expert
Vancouver, BC, Canada
(604) 738-7685
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