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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

The Power of Playfulness

Jun 30, 2021 06:30AM ● By Marlaina Donato
Couple laughing and dancing together in kitchen being playful


Mirth has been a memory for most of us this past year; something that we need now more than ever. White-knuckle survival and transition can drain neurotransmitters, those chemical messengers vital for strong immunity and good mental health. Taking a vacation from seriousness just might be what the doctor ordered.

As kids, we rarely turned down an opportunity to roll in the grass, laugh ourselves into bellyaches or catch a wave of spontaneous fun. With the advent of adulthood, pouring a drink or going on a shopping spree often becomes a knee-jerk relaxation strategy, leaving the option for nourishing play in the distant past. 

Recent research shows what kids and kittens already know: Snippets of playtime are good for the soul and provide benefits like reduced depression, stronger emotional resilience and higher productivity on the job. A study by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, in Germany, published last year in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being suggests that even serious, poker-faced humans can train themselves to be more playful. 

Postponing levity accomplishes nothing and doesn’t solve today’s problems, yet we may find it almost impossible to grab downtime without guilt gnawing away at our joy. Try making a to-do list that is solely dedicated to pure, inner-child-approved, illogical fun. Some activities to consider penciling into the calendar:

  • Roll around the floor with the dog or play hide-and-go-seek with the kids.
  • Host an adult sleepover; stay up late watching a scary movie or one made for a younger audience.
  • Make ink blots with watercolors or play with air-dry clay or easy-to-make salt dough. 
  • Grab some crayons and adult-designed coloring books.
  • Blow bubbles in the backyard or during a morning shower.
  • Go out for low- or sugar-free ice cream or gluten-free pizza.
  • Fly a kite or find shapes and faces in passing clouds.
  • Roll in the leaves or down a grassy hill with that special someone.
  • Bounce a ball during work breaks.
  • Belt out karaoke songs and delight in being off-key.
  • Play charades or a favorite childhood game.
  • Have a staring contest.

Having some fun doesn’t break the bank, and the only requirement is to check self-consciousness at the door. “Wasting” time is being free, and that is worth its weight in gold.

Marlaina Donato is the author of several books and a composer of healing and inspiring music.

5 Top Tips to Finding Your Next Doctor

1 Keep an Open Mind! Healthcare has come a long way. Today, you have access to practitioners that branch outside of traditional medicine and aim to identify the root causes of conditions while using alternative treatments that may help you get the relief you need. Just because it’s not a pill, doesn’t make it pseudoscience.

2 Build Your Health Care Team. There is no one doctor that can be the be-all-end-all for your health needs. Be sure to have a team of practitioners with different “lenses” and areas of expertise who will treat the root cause and not just the symptom(s).

3   Environment Influences Healing. Health is multi-factorial. Your mental and emotional environment plays a pivotal role in your healing potential. Your doctors and their staff should create an office atmosphere filled with positivity so you can get the most out of your care.

4 Your Story Matters.  Before you begin any treatment, be sure to have a comprehensive consultation to discuss your health concerns. Find practitioners who welcome questions and will take the time to listen and treat you with respect.

5 Report of Findings. When it comes to our health, we often make decisions without understanding the risk versus benefits. Knowledge is an important part of the healing process and is essential to make conscious, informed health decisions. Find practitioners who take the time to explain their exam findings and the recommendations for treatment in ways that make sense to you.

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