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5 Ways Playing More Can Unexpectedly Improve Your Life

Play as if your life depends on it (because it does)

Ellen Goodwin
6 min readOct 6, 2022

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I spent a couple of hours earlier this week watching TEDx talks about the power of play in our lives and how it can change how we see and do things.

These talks immediately made me think: am I playing enough? The honest answer was: no. (I’ve got some serious plans to change the no into a big fat yes soon.)

So what about you? When was the last time you played?

Not because your kids asked you to or you had to do a team-building exercise. Just any kind of play because you wanted to and could?

Outside of a game on your phone while you waited in line, have you really indulged in any sort of play recently?

It’s interesting that, as adults, we need to be reminded about the importance of play.

As children, we played like it was our job to have fun, and our brains and bodies loved it (we just didn’t know it then.) At its most basic, play, no matter what kind, changes your mental and physical state. It boosts your executive control system, regulates emotions, helps problem-solving, and increases whole-brain integration.

It can also lower your stress hormones and increase your bonding hormones. It can release the endorphins in your pleasure/reward systems and calm your nervous system, all while you’re having a good time.

Still, with all these impressive benefits, as adults, we don’t do it nearly as much as our bodies and brain would like us to.

Maybe because fun doesn’t seem like something adults don’t indulge in. Fun is easy, and easy feels like we’re cheating. Getting a brain boost AND laughing? That feels so wrong.

But it shouldn’t. There’s no real reason not to add play into your life, especially when the list of what “qualifies” as play is much longer than you think.*

A quick definition of play can be anything that isn’t work.

It can be running around and engaging in rough-and-tumble games. It can also be building something in your garage, coloring, sewing, or taking a painting class. It can be hiking, biking, or splashing around in a pool. It can…

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Ellen Goodwin

Productivity Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Podcast Co-host, Author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching. Learn more at Ellen@EllenGoodwin.com