Contributed By - Sharleen Lucas | RNextdoor
“Play is messy, risky, timeless,” says Timothy Butterfield, writer for Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
No wonder everyone loves playfulness. But amidst a busy life, when do adults have the luxury to play in a messy, risky, and timeless way?
As it turns out, playfulness is a necessity rather than a luxury with its ability to improve nearly every facet of your life. Studies say that it boosts your physical health, makes you more appealing to those around you, and allows you to reframe day-to-day frustrating or tedious situations into amusing, transforming, and inspiring moments.
And here’s more good news, playfulness is an innate human quality that exists within you. Everyone has it to varying degrees. You don’t need to dig hard to find your playful self. Under your strong work ethic, worries, perfectionism, and busy lifestyle, you are an innately playful and alluring person. Perhaps it’s time to unbury it and let you be a little messy, risky, and timeless.
Here are 7 ways playfulness liberates the fabulous you.
It enriches your mental health.
A playful attitude sends a signal to your brain that everything is okay. This calms your body’s physiological stress response, improving your overall health and coping skills. Instead of ramping up to fight or run, a playful mindset opens your brain to flexible and creative thinking, improving your resiliency to life’s serious and painful experiences. When the instinct rises to lash out in anger or withdraw in shame, you decide to push into a challenge, gaining deeper insight. Set free your inner playfulness, and you will uncover a happier, healthier, and more resilient woman.
It helps you enjoy exercise again.
Playfulness motivates you toward a more active lifestyle and, therefore, increased physical fitness. Researchers recommend playful exercise with other people because it motivates you to play again. It’s no wonder pickleball is North America’s fastest-growing sport. Players of all ages report improved wellness while having fun exercising and connecting with friends and family, the perfect recipe to inspire you off the device and back into the game.
It captivates your audience.
Have you ever wondered about the woman who sits alone at a party? Within a minute, she’s surrounded by men and women alike, mesmerized by the words dripping off her tongue like irresistible sirens? With just a smile, you can be that woman.
Studies say a wide smile, which is the inevitable companion to a playful demeanor, makes you feel attractive. But, it’s not just your perception. When you step into a room smiling, you really are more enchanting to those around you. A smile is neurologically contagious and triggers generosity and kindness in people. Repeated smiling also interrupts mood disorders and strengthens brain neurons to sustain a positive outlook.
Try this popular Taoist, and Buddhist practice called a smile meditation: smile and feel it impact your entire being from head to toe. Then, see how it influences those around you.
It unearths your inner Tigress.
Speaking of wise Taoists, in referring to a playful woman and a particular male body part, they say, “When the Tigress plays, the dragon whips its tail.” Your playfulness is a sexual turn-on to your partner and attractive to potential ones, and it displays a bold spirit willing to take a risk or two. Such an attitude requires vulnerability and courage but pays great dividends in a safe relationship. Newness and novelty increase dopamine production and excitement for sex, showing your partner your desire to play. There’s a reason the term is foreplay.
It boosts your work success and confidence.
Since a playful nature helps you reframe problems, it stretches your ability to think outside the box, be creative, and take risks. According to multiple studies, this empowers you at work by increasing your innovative thinking, inner motivation, integrity, and intellectual success. Impressively, playful thinking also reduces the dreaded imposter phenomenon, that insecure, nagging sense that you’re a failure and a fraud.
It inspires the children around you.
An adult’s playful mindset impacts children, inspiring them to feel safe enough to play, too. When a child plays, their brain structure and function is enhanced, and toxic stress melts away. Playtime is a child’s science lab, a little messy and risky where they get lost in time. By being a playful adult, you create a science lab of curiosity and exploration for both you and the children around you.
It is as unique as you are.
Research agrees playfulness is multi-faceted and hard to define, so it’s okay to think something is more fun and playful than someone else does. Don’t compare. Let yourself be herself! One mother of a delightful four-year-old boy offers a similar insight, “I try to play vicariously through my little guy, but it isn’t the same as doing it for myself. Sometimes I need to play just for me.” Be careful of defining your playtime by those around you, and let it be as unique as you are. Yes, you, fabulous you…messy, risky, and timeless.
About the Author:
Sharleen Lucas is a registered nurse who worked at the hospital bedside for eight years. She now enjoys combating her addiction to news and health research by passing it on as the RNextdoor from her dream home in the Colorado Rockies.
You can find her at RNextdoor.com.
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