Play is the Gateway to Vitality

by lydia on July 5, 2016

There is a key element I don’t talk about much on the blog that has a big role in our health. That element is fun, or better yet: PLAY. A couple years ago, a few colleagues of mine and I created a course called ‘A Calm Mind.’ Our goal was to educate and give steps to take toward optimal health focused on mental health and mood through lifestyle and nutrition. My friend and colleague Melanie taught an amazing lesson on Play and Mood and I felt it was a great post to bring up, especially now during the summer when play is naturally what we all want to do. Adding an element of fun can go a long way towards a good mood and healthy balanced life.

Adults and kids having fun playing in a garden

Play & Mood

I, Melanie, think most of us know intuitively the importance of play for children. Maybe far less of us realize that play is necessary for adult health and mental well-being as well. I know for me personally, as the mother of four playful kids, I have had long periods of losing my sense of play and almost feeling incapable of even knowing HOW to DO play. Motherhood and life are tough jobs, and if we are not careful to care for ourselves, we will lose that sense of playfulness that is so vital to our well-being. So let’s meet up in this post, eh? We’ll learn a little about play.

The opposite of play is not work, it is depression. Brian Sutton-Smith

The Benefits Of Play

Excerpted from

  • Play Connects Us To Others

Sharing joy, laughter, and fun with others promotes bonding and strengthens a sense of community. We develop empathy, compassion, trust, and the capacity for intimacy through regular play.

  • Play fosters flexibility, creativity, and learning

Play is a doorway to learning. Play stimulates our imaginations, helping us to adapt and solve problems. Play arouses curiosity, which leads to discovery and creativity. The components of play—curiosity, discovery, novelty, risk-taking, trial and error, pretense, games, social etiquette, and other increasingly complex adaptive activities—are the same as the components of learning.

  • Play is an antidote to loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression

When we play vigorously, we trigger a mix of endorphins that lift our spirits and distractions that distance us from pain, fear, and other burdens. When we play with other people, whether they’re friends or strangers, we are reminded that we are not alone in this world. We can connect to others in delightful and meaningful ways that banish loneliness.

  • Play teaches us perseverance

The rewards of learning or mastering a new game teach us that perseverance is worthwhile. Perseverance is a trait necessary to healthy adulthood, and it is learned largely through play. Perseverance and violence are rarely found together.

  • Play makes us happy

Beyond all these excellent reasons for playing, there is simply the sheer joy of it. Play is a state of being that is happy and joyous. Jumping into and out of the world of play on a daily basis can preserve and nourish our own hearts, and the hearts of our communities.

Play is vital to a good life AND mental health and well-being. It is time to incorporate play into whatever demanding schedule you have. It will enrich your life and stimulate your brain.


  5. – All kinds of games


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Melanie Christner, author/founder of the Honest Body website, is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, GAPS™ practitioner, and Restorative Wellness Practitioner.

She specializes in functional nutrition and in using food therapeutically.

Combining real food, digestive therapy, functional lab tests, with attention to lifestyle, allows her to help families and individuals thrive and feel good. Helping families and individuals to thrive again is the most satisfying profession she can think of.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly August 3, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I love, love, love this post!! When people think about getting healthy, they always focus on the food side of things, but there is also a mental side. Play is so very important and I think a lot of adults forget this element in their daily, crazy lives. Thanks for sharing! :)


lydia August 9, 2016 at 7:12 pm

We are hard-wired for pleasure and to avoid pain – play is a great way to do both! It is indeed an aspect that we don’t talk about much in many health circles 😉


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