The child within needs a way to get out sometimes. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Austin Maker Faire, “a gathering of fascinating, curious people...From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these "makers" to show hobbies, experiments, projects,” which is geared towards kids and getting their brains hooked on learning. Though my grandmother would probably still consider me a kid, at 31 you would think that I’d be a little out of place in such a setting. Instead, I was welcomed at all the stations, encouraged to be myself, and rediscover my creativity. This while my husband illuminated hundreds of kids with the vast and intriguing world of virtual reality.
While we adults are all caught up in the world of being such, and all of the responsibilities that go along with it, it is important to take a step back sometimes. Like waaaay back, to when we were kids. What would 8 year old Sandra do? She’d probably tell me that I’m spending too much time doing boring things, and not nearly enough time playing with her friends.
According to Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D., in his article for Psychology Today entitled “Why Play Is Important”, “[Play] can encourage creativity, planning, problem solving, and a whole bunch of task-specific skills like spatial reasoning and logic. For both humans and animals, play is a low-risk way to develop our cognitive abilities.” Now, I’m not saying that we should do everything that dogs do, but minus the butt sniffing shenanigans they really seem to have a lot of their lives figured out.
Play helps to reduce stress and activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which signals to our bodies that we are in a safe space, free from danger. Existing in this state helps us think about things that maybe we haven’t had time for previously, sometimes revealing new, ingenious, even playful solutions. Play is also a great way to encourage bonding and can help strengthen relationships. And laughing. Laughing is sooooo good for you.
So take some time today to play. The kid inside you will be glad you did.