Playful way to thrive
MANY of us are anxious and stressed – our children too. So how can we support healing and hopefulness in these traumatic and uncertain times?
Prioritising caring and lighthearted interactions and time for fun and relaxation is essential. Rather than focusing on schedules, give time to cultivating curiosity and playfulness. Many studies find playfulness and curiosity support our resilience and ability to cope in the face of stressful situations.
Being playful improves our mood and creativity and supports our connection with others. In short, being playful supports better mental health.
In early childhood courses, I teach teachers three key things to focus on to support children’s healthy development: “attachment relationships”, “caregiving” and “play”.
Connections and relationships, care and caring interactions, play and playfulness are key priorities in these times.
In Resilient: How to Grow an unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, Rick Hanson says that as well as developing inner resources such as grit and compassion, focusing on enjoyment is a powerful way to care for ourselves. We can cut stress and better connect with others when we seek enriching, fun and enjoyable experiences. Play ticks these boxes.
Many families will be feeling anxious about schooling from home, feeling pressured about the juggle of doing everything from home for the foreseeable future. Play can help. As the holidays end, keep the focus on play and curiosity, on enjoying experiences and relationships, on being playful.
Every day should have fun and enjoyment planned. Playfulness through our words and body language is a way to show our family and children we care about them and enjoy them. And it will lower stress.
Trying to be playful when anxious might feel hard. But a curious fact is that brains are not able to experience stress and playfulness at the same time.
So, when we give our energy to being playful, we disrupt the stress and anxiety.
Playfulness will reduce our sense of worry and overwhelm. Playfulness will help us enjoy each other, make our relationships more intimate, relaxed and meaningful. Interacting playfully will bring a sense of hopefulness and possibility. Playful moments will reassure us and our children that positive experiences can still take place, good times can still happen, and hope is real.