To Play in May – On Health

Kids jumping copy“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – make it. Life is love – Enjoy it!”  Sai Baba

girl playing on tire swing copyMay Day – Time to Play, May is made to be merry…I was rolling these thoughts around my head and thinking about my blog this Sunday, May Day, as I got ready for church.    I flipped on the radio as I put on my make-up and did my hair…and heard a Ted Talk on Play by Jane McGonigal. The topic crystalized my thinking and was so good I decided to share these excerpts from Jane’s talk:

“Now let me tell you my story. It started two years ago, when I hit my head and got a concussion. The concussion didn’t heal properly; I had constant severe headaches…and suicidal ideation is quite common with traumatic brain injuries. It happens to one in three, and it happened to me. My brain started telling me, “Jane, you want to die.” It said, “The pain will never end” …And these voices became so persistent that I started to legitimately fear for my life, which is the time that I said to myself, “I am either going to kill myself, or I’m going to turn this into a game.

darts bullseye copy“Now, why a game? I knew from researching the psychology of games for more than a decade that when we play a game — and this is in the scientific literature — we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism, and we’re more likely to reach out to others for help. I wanted to bring these gamer traits to my real-life challenge, so I created a role-playing recovery game called Jane the Concussion Slayer.”

Not only did playing this game help Jane recover, but her game has evolved into SuperBetter, a game anyone can play to fight the things that keep them from their goals.      A Link to Jane McGonigal Ted Talk:

coloring copyMany of you have seen the new craze of adult coloring books, so did you know play isn’t just good for kids? No wonder they are flying off the shelf –  Play is healthy for all of us. It really can heal us. (They are using video games with combat vets with traumatic brain injury and PTSD). It can also help us stay healthy and thereby live longer, as well as helping us enjoy the life we are living.

baby playing copyWhy?

Play releases stress. Stress suppresses the immune system, thus making it more likely for us to get sick and stay sick, while play releases our own body’s endorphins, natural “feel good” hormones which can temporarily reduce pain and create a sense of well-being, even helping depression.

chess copyIt improves brain function:  Having senior moments?  Play!  Puzzles and games can improve memory, increase brain functioning, and improve problem solving skills.

Play improves relationships: Play encourages the development of social connections. Sharing fun activities and laughter helps build empathy, trust, compassion and intimacy for adults, just like it does for kids.

water-fight copyIt recreates a sense of youthfulness:  George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow older; we age because we stop playing.” Play creates energy and increases a sense of vitality. It improves creativity. Play makes us laugh, and laughter really is the best medicine.

So just for today….find a kid or a grandchild and play a game.  Or be a BIG kid…splash in the rain, chase your dog around the yard, play a game of hopscotch, dig in the back of your closet and find that Uno game or…Farkle, or Dominoes, or Monopoly.

Play your way to happiness as if your life depends upon it…just like Jane did.

The Merry May may be coming your way….At least, I hope so!



About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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7 Responses to To Play in May – On Health

  1. What a frightening experience, Joanne, and delightful way to combat the injury and heal. Play is amazing and we don’t do enough of it as we get older. Having a grandchild has upped my playtime a hundred fold (although I need a nap when we’re done). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bernadette says:

    Playing adds balance to my life. Lucky for me I have grandchildren so I can go to it with enthusiasm. But playing like meditation calms the mind and allows creativity to bubble up to consciousness.


  3. Glad your injury healed. I love adult colouring books!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. robjodiefilogomo says:

    Glad you are feeling better—you are incredibly right that playtime can be so important. Even as children…it can be a learning tool—a fun one at that!! And really it’s no different for us adults!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mariaholm says:

    what an encouraging post not to forget to play joyfully

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jo, I just came inside from playing hide and seek. (Tag is really not my forte.) I’m going to check out that TED Talk, now. Happy May to you, too. Oh, did you know that May 4 is a Holiday, too? Trekkies call it “May the Fourth Be With You.” (I did not make this up.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Clive says:

    Being a man, I’ve never grown up anyway. I really don’t get the colouring thing though. My playing is mostly Xbox and the like. But that can be useful too: there’s a new game being promoted by the Alzheimer’s Society here in the UK, it collects data as you play which helps their research. At last, I have an excuse!

    Liked by 1 person

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