Mental health is a serious issue for adults – it affects people from all walks of life. While some may believe that play is for children, it can be just as important to an adult’s well-being. In this article, we take a look at the role of play in adult mental health and how it can help people to stay healthy and happy.
1. An Overview of Play in Adult Mental Health
The idea of play sometimes gets forgotten as adults, but it actually plays an important role in adult mental health. Studies have shown that play can help to reduce stress, improve communication, and encourage social engagement. Here are some key benefits of play for adult mental health:
- Reduced Stress Levels: Through play, adults have a way to de-stress and let go of worries or anxieties, leading to improved relaxation.
- Enhanced Communication: Playing together can help to improve communication between people and increase bonding, leading to improved relationships.
- Improved Mood: Research has shown that when adults engage in playful activities they experience improved mood, leading to improved mental health.
- Enhanced Self-Confidence: Participating in play can help to build a sense of self-confidence, which can lead to improved overall mental health.
Play can also help to foster creativity, problem-solving skills, and encourage healthy self-expression. Engaging in play can be beneficial for adults in multiple ways, from improving mental and physical health to providing a positive distraction from everyday life stressors.
2. The Benefits of Play in Mental Health
Play is an important part of adult mental health, as it can help reduce stress and provide relief from depression and anxiety. Studies have consistently shown that activities such as board games, card games, and outdoor activities bring people out of a negative state of mind and can even have an antidepressant effect.
Studies show that endorphins are released during play, resulting in a positive attitude and increased happiness. Endorphins are hormones that reduce pain and act as natural anti-depressants. Additionally, play can stimulate dopamine which is a “feel good” neurotransmitter.
Playing also serves as an effective distraction from negative thoughts and feelings, and can trigger positive social interactions. By engaging with others, adults can learn new skills, find support networks, and create meaningful connections. Social play can also help adults find emotional connections with others, building trust and decreasing loneliness.
Regular play activities can also help build self-confidence by improving decision-making skills and the ability to handle complex situations in a rational manner. This can be seen in the way that playing a musical instrument, engaging in a physical activity, or solving a puzzle can give adults a sense of accomplishment and wellbeing.
Here are some key benefits of play that adults can experience:
- Reduce stress
- Diminish depression
- Relieve anxiety
- Release endorphins for a positive attitude
- Distract from negative thoughts and feelings
- Improve decision making skills
- Create meaningful social connections
- Build self-confidence
3. Working Play into Your Life
Adult life can be chaotic and leave little or no time for play. Play is an important and needed component of a healthy lifestyle. Allowing yourself to take time to play with things that you enjoy can be an incredible stress reliever and improve your mental health. Here are 3 ways you can work play into your life:
- Take short play breaks. Taking a short break to do something you enjoy can be a simple way to reduce stress and get your creativity flowing. Such activities could include playing a game of music, taking a leisurely walk, or doing an art project. Set aside a few minutes each day and you will notice an improvement in your mental health.
- Plan a fun event. Planning an event to do something special or unusual with music, food, or art can be a great way to factor play into your life. Even something as simple as getting together with friends and playing board games can be a great way to take a break from the stress of daily life.
- Create a dedicated play space at home. Creating a dedicated space for play can be a great way to quickly and easily make play a part of your life. This could be anything from a craft space with supplies to a game room with puzzle and board games. By creating this space, you can ensure that play is always available to you when you need it.
Adding play into your life is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental health. It can be a simple and effective way to help manage feelings of anxiety and depression and promote productivity and creativity. Start taking the time to play today and you will be amazed at the results!
4. When to Seek Professional Help
There are times when an individual’s mental health problems are too severe for them to manage with self-care and play. It is important to be able to recognise .
- Persistent Low Mood – if an individual’s low mood does not begin to lift, even after playing and engaging in self-care activities, they might need professional help.
- Intrusive Thoughts – intrusive or irrational thoughts or worries can be very distressing and interfere with everyday life; if this is happening, individuals should seek professional help.
- Sleeping Problem – experiencing trouble sleeping or being unable to sleep can have an adverse effect on mental health. If this isn’t improving with more play or rest, it is important to visit a doctor or therapist.
- Anxiety – anxiety can be experienced in many forms, such as panic attacks, social anxiety or intrusive thoughts. If these do not subside with activities like play, talking to a professional is recommended.
People should not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, and it might be an important intervention for long-term recovery. Consulting with a psychologist or psychiatrist can be a valuable part of understanding and treating mental health conditions. Play therapy can also be helpful for adults, depending on the source of distress. In any case, if an individual is concerned about their mental health, they should consult with a doctor or therapist for additional guidance. Overall, there has been a lot of evidence that play is incredibly important in maintaining and promoting mental health in adults. Whether it’s through unpacking difficult subjects, promoting creativity and problem-solving, or simply bringing joy to everyday life, it’s worth taking the time to build play into your routine and make the most of all the benefits it offers.