Why ‘Play’ Is Key For Women’s Mental Health And How You Can Add It To Your Day

The transformative power of playful activity is becoming more and more widely known. Playfulness as an attitude and play as an action both have an important role in our adult lives. Even so, we can often label play as childish and lacking in importance and fail to make room for it in our daily lives.

 

 

Studies show that play is critical for the development of the human brain. Neuroscientists at Cornell University's laboratory of brain and cognition in Ithaca, New York, have mapped the brain activity of people learning new skills and have discovered that trying something new essentially rewires our brain [1] But play could mean different things to different people - it may be very physical, engaging the body or it may be more meditative. That’s why we explored some different ways to keep your childish enthusiasm, mama.

Barre

Combining pilates, yoga and ballet techniques, barre aims to lengthen and strengthen the body. Focused on posture and the intrinsic stabiliser muscles that support the spine, barre is ideal for postnatal strengthening. With varying degrees of difficulty, each class works to strengthen your body for a toned physique while you tap into your 3 year old ballerina.

Games

Your favourite form of play be what is described as 'ritual play'. It could mean a few rounds of Uno, a competitive game of Monopoly or some mind fitness in Scrabble; whatever your choice, this form of play involves rules and strategy and is usually in a group setting. If you’re looking for a solo game, studies have shown the Tetris help to ease anxiety by helping us get a mental state that psychologists call "flow" where we're completely absorbed or engaged in an activity.

Colouring in

This form of ‘imaginative play’ seems like a natural fit for mamas, but taking time to engage in some adult colouring is actually a form of stress relief. This incredibly accessible form of play helps to calm and quieten the 'monkey mind' by being equal parts meditative and fun and by allowing creativity to take over.

Move & shake

‘Body play’ refers to any kind of movement that gets us out of gravity. It could be pilates, hiking, surfing or dance. If you’re pregnant, find time to keep moving in ways that feel comfortable and joyful to you. New mama? Play for you might look like staying connected to an activity you used to do pre-baby; surfing once a week, weekend hikes or keeping up that dance class you love. 

 

‘Play’ doesn’t always need to feel like exercise. We could all benefit from a little more playfulness in our daily lives!

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